With the coming of the third Iron Man movie, we naturally have the third Iron Man video game based on the movie. Iron Man 3: The Official Game breaks away from the platforms of its predecessors and actually manages to stand out as a decent mobile game. The previous two Iron Man games were made by a Sega team that no longer exists so this time around the development and publishing was handled by Gameloft. Gameloft may not have the best reputation among the video game world, but this time around the Iron Man license was handled with a little more respect. What Gameloft has managed to produce is a smart and fun little mobile game and a very interesting take on a license that has primarily been about third person action. Iron Man 3 throws out all of the gameplay from previous attempts and is instead presented as an endless runner game with some action elements. A very interesting direction for the series but I really feel like Gameloft sat back and thought “What do people play on their phones?” and based their development on that question.
Gameloft has produced quite a few superhero games on iOS such as the Amazing Spider-Man game and The Dark Knight Rises; both of those were open-world third person action games that were too big in scale and clunky to work on a phone. It was smart of them to take a different approach with Iron Man 3. The concept here is much simpler. You play as Tony Stark in the Iron Man armor and you continuously fly forward dodging obstacles and shooting down enemies that get in your way and you go for as long as you can. There are items and power ups that you can snatch as you fly and all of the suits have health and weapon upgrades to add a little bit more depth, but it’s nothing real meaningful. The most you are going to do is maybe increase the distance you make before dying. There are multiple suits in the game that have their own looks inspired by the films and their own special attacks, which are just used to clear the screen of enemies.
Each mission starts with Tony starting to fly and they give you the option to choose some bonuses for the match. This is where the microtransactions start. The currency in the game is these little crystals that you can use to purchase bonuses, speed up cool down timers, or even revive your character if he fails in a mission so you can just keep going. You earn these crystals by completing objectives and earning trophies, but of course they are all purchasable multiple times throughout the game just in case you want to throw some money their way. Now the two ways you can play Iron Man 3 is to either tilt your device to make Tony switch lanes or you can use touch controls and slide your finger across the bottom of the screen to make him move. I was playing with the tilt controls for a long time before I even knew there were touch controls, but let me tell you, using the touch worked a whole hell of a lot better for me. I guess it just depends on your preference. As Tony is flying the goal is to dodge the obstacles in your path, but enemies are also showing up on your screen which you have to tap with your finger to blast them out of your way. You also have another attack where you slide your finger around for a continuous beam that’s more powerful. That’s pretty much it, it’s simple and different for an Iron Man game but what’s most important is that it is actually fun to play, especially for fans of endurance and endless runner style games.
The mission structure is somewhat strange. There is more to the game besides the flying, such as the story missions, but you are only allowed to complete one a day, unless you pay of course. You can attempt the missions as many times as it takes to finish it but once you do you are presented with a twenty four hour timer until your next mission. Until then all you can do is just generic runs that don’t further you in the story and are just there for collecting upgrade points and furthering your score. Even that is almost useless as the leaderboards in this game can just be bought. It’s the definition of pay to rank. You do however gain experience which you can use to unlock extra suits, of which there are a lot.
Iron Man 3 is a bright and colorful game, and the graphics are actually really well done. The Iron Man suits in particular really stand out, as they should, and look really awesome. The game moves at an extremely fast pace, and this is where I ran into some trouble. The game seems to pick and choose random times to have a bad frame rate. Overall I didn’t have too much trouble, but sometimes the frame rate would suddenly drop to sub-par and the game becomes almost impossible to keep up with which would become entirely frustrating. Luckily my experiences with the game were mostly positive, but let’s say you’re playing on a phone and getting a lot of text messages or emails then you might just want to play when you have no distractions because that kind of stuff will really mess with the game. The sound of the game is also well done but does come with some of the worst voice impersonators I have ever heard in my life. Nobody really sounds like their movie counterpart and it's a pretty big disconnect. The environments are all fun to navigate if you are into challenging yourself and it is extremely satisfying to be able to maneuver through the obstacles without hitting anything, but my main problem with the levels is the fact that it is way too long before you get to see another level. For the longest time I thought there was only one level in the game until I got far enough to see the next one. In the time it takes to get to the other stages some people could have already had their fill and moved on. Variety is a huge problem with this game and something they should have thought about.
Iron Man 3 was an interesting approach to a movie licensed game and while it certainly has quite a few faults it also does quite a few things right. The thing to take note of is that this is a free game on iOS and for free it is definitely worth your time to at least check out. The game is flashy and can be pretty addicting while pushing you to your limits. It’s by no means a perfect game, but it’s not bad either.