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Iron Man 2


Iron Man 2

Platform: Xbox 360
Category: 3rd Person: Action

On April 15th I had a chance to sit in on a developer conference call for the upcoming action game Iron Man 2. In attendance were Dean Martinetti (Producer SEGA) and Mike McHale (Development SEGA). This provided us a chance to get a bit of insight into the game slated to be released May 4th. Before you get into the content of this preview, I have to let you know that I was 10 minutes late to the conference call, so I missed the first bit of what was discussed.

As I joined the first thing that I heard was that one of the notable things during the development cycle was that they had more time to polish Iron Man 2 then they did the original. I see this being a result that they had a base to work from. They stated that the day after the original Iron Man game shipped the development team started to talk about what to fix in a sequel if one would be released. Flying around in a big area, customization of the suit, and improved controls (e.g. make transition from ground to flight much easier) were all on the list of things to improve.

Given the list of things to improve, they noted how the original game had players holding buttons down to hover or fly and it was a bit convoluted. For this sequel the controls have been simplified. For example, to switch from hovering to full out flying you need only press 'A' and press the joystick forward. Things are much easier this time around. Another example of this is that flight steering has been moved to the right stick and hover remains on the left stick, making them two separate functions that affect the control. The camera remains on the right stick when hovering, but when flying the camera becomes automatic and follows your actions. SEGA believes that it is very smooth and makes things easier on the player.

One of the things that they strived for in Iron Man 2 was an emphasis for battles to be more melee oriented which they believe makes for a more satisfying feeling. Interestingly enough it was discussed during the conference call that there is a constant switch from interior to exterior environments and vice-a-versa. This allows you to have to focus on enemies more and actually see who you are fighting. The closed spaces of interiors make this happen and it is something not found in the original. It also helps to focus on the emphasis of melee oriented battles.

This time around you can customize the melees, along with your suit and weapons, in Tony Stark's lab. This lab area for is seen to make the game much better this time around. For example, you can do 20 varieties per weapon by mixing different weapons with each other or different properties. You can test your customizations in the lab as well. It is believed that you will spend a lot of time just tinkering in the lab.

It was also discussed that the framerate has been drastically improved form the first game. There are still issues that may be noticed when there is a lot going on screen at once, but it not as prevalent as the original game. This is attributed to the game being locked in at 30 fps where as the first was locked in at 60 fps. It was explained that by going to 30 fps it allowed them to do more with less issues noticeable issue, if any at all, within the lower 30 fps vs. 60 fps. A lot more details and destructible items are included due to the change in frames per second as well making for a better looking game overall.

For the sequel the SEGA was able to open up exteriors and interiors more and it affects how you attack missions and combat. Some missions allow you to do other things secondary of the actual mission objective at hand. Not all missions allow you to do this, but some do and this helps make the game more of an experience. This changes the linear feel.

Given the characters in the movie, you can play as Iron Man or War Machine in most missions, except for a couple that require a specific character to be played. It is your choice and who you chose makes for a different experience for how you play each level. War Machine is more brute force, uses traditional ammunition, where as Iron Man is more acrobatic and uses energy based weapons.

In terms of making Iron Man 2 special, it is Tony Stark that makes this sequel important in many ways. His attitude, style, genius, etc., was something that was deemed as key to focus on. By doing this the game allows players to take the character and experience him, not just play as him. It was also noted that the developers wanted people to feel the power of Iron Man and/or War Machine while wearing those respective outfits (e.g. destruction of your surroundings while in one of these personas). It seems as though they want those who pick up the game to feel the roles that they play in such a way that it just isn't something you only control on screen.

One of the biggest things I was interested to know was if Iron Man 2 was just going to be a virtual version of the movie, keeping it quite linear. To my relief they stated that in terms of gameplay they were able to go outside the movies story, so essentially you are able to play in the Iron Man universe and not just the events of the movie. They got to design custom elements, with permission of course, and alter specifics when completing missions. Overall they actually feel as if Iron Man 2 could stand alone on its own without the tie-in to the movie, which really does say how they see the overall gameplay experience.

For those that were wondering, the heroes that are playable from the movie are Iron Man and War Machine. Non playable characters on the hero side are Nick Fury, Black Widow and other members of S.H.I.E.L.D. During the conference those that were participating got a bit more information about villains in the game. Each version of the game gets different ones based on the respective console/platform it is on. For example, the Xbox 360/PS3 has Dynamo, while the Wii version you will find Ghost, Mauler and Firepower for example. In the DS there is even reference to Wilbur Day who is known as Stiltman.

One of the questions that I asked, and was addressed, was what was going to happen with the Iron Man franchise given that there is no talk of any more movies and the fact that another superhero franchise, specifically spider-man, still releases games with no movies. Dean noted that they would love to do an open world sandbox game with the franchise. Mark again noted that the game's could be made on their own separate of the movies and the sky is the limit. That being said, it was stated they were not ready to talk about where the franchise was going from here.

The dev-team was proud that they had a chance to work with Matt Fraction, who currently writes the Invincible Iron Man for Marvel comics. On a side note, Matt was also consulting with the makers of Iron Man 2, the movie, and the game makers had no idea this was happening. For the game Matt wrote dialog for the cutscenes and he also rewrote some of the story elements to allow them to make sense and flow in the Marvel universe. He turned out to be a very important contributor to the game.

A final note asked at the end of the discussion was about achievements/trophies for the next generation versions. There will be easy challenges (achievements/trophies) for casual gamers, but there are also ones that will cause gamers to put in the time. These are geared for the more hardcore gamer. Some achievements are also character specific as well so they will encourage you to try a different character in order to get certain achievements/trophies.

Based on the conference call I'd have to say that Iron Man 2 is sounding pretty darn good. We hope to have our review copy of the game around the May 4th release, and our review will follow just after that, so stay tuned for full impressions and review of the game at that time.

- Kirby Y


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