We were invited by Sony to demo the highly-anticipated Iron Man VR during their Playstation Exclusive Showcase, recently. The result of our preview was nothing short of excellent, exciting, invigorating, and somewhat disorienting.
When you were a kid, reading Iron Man comics or watching the animated Iron Man series, did you ever wish you’d be able to don that iconic red and gold armor? How about when Robert Downey Jr. took up the mantle of Tony Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? No matter when it was, we’ve all had that daydream of what it would like to be Iron Man. Now, thanks to the brilliant minds at Camouflaj LLC, that daydream is becoming a Virtual Reality.
In Marvel’s Iron Man VR, when you put on the Playstation VR headset and equip the Move controllers, you instantaneously become Iron Man. The giddiness that I felt in that moment, and even writing that sentence, is indescribable. You can’t help but just smile and giggle on your first flight. I know this, because after I giggled uncontrollably, I watched many other people have that exact same reaction.
Once that feeling subsided, it was time to go through the training course, which is set in/around the ocean bordering Tony Stark’s residence. In this training session, you learn how to balance flying, firing repulsors, and performing melee attacks. This is not an easy thing to master and becomes disorienting at times, but thankfully it becomes second-nature by the time it’s applied in action.
What’s amazing is that you actually fly and fire like Iron Man. To fly up, you face your palms and move controllers down. To move forward, you place your palms behind you. To fire, you put your hands in front of you and aim.
I can’t stress this enough, YOU. ARE. IRON. MAN.
As for the story, itself, the development team hasn’t announced how long the campaign will be, but they did reveal that the main villain with be Iron Man’s longtime comic book foe, Ghost. They also revealed that you’ll be able to upgrade the tech in your suit by utilizing Tony’s garage [that wasn’t featured in the demo, so I can’t speak on what that is like].
Fortunately, once training was over, I was able to experience a portion of the story. It was set in one of Tony Stark’s private jets and you were actually playing just as Tony Stark. After an amusing conversation with Pepper Potts and the AI, Friday, the jet is attacked by the aforementioned villain of the story, Ghost.
There is this incredible moment where you have to have pieces of the Iron Man suit attach to you, in mid-air. While there is no pain, I believed there was an impact when the armor attached to my hands, chest, and face. It was surreal. Once the armor was on, it was time to get into the action by fending off drones and keeping the private jet in one piece, to protect Pepper.
Even though, you’re flying and in mid-air the whole time, there’s never that moment where you feel like you’re going to fall. In fact, you feel like you’re in control the whole time. It’s part of why it all feels second nature, like I mentioned before. In training, it can be a bit cumbersome to navigate flying, but in actual application it feels like a natural part of yourself. When I asked Camouflaj Designer, Ryan Darcey, about the flight mechanics he said:
“When we began development on Iron Man VR, the one thing we stressed that we had to get right were the flight mechanics. By incorporating invisible bumpers, we were able to make it a little easier to stay within the scene and feel in control the whole time.”
Iron Man VR is so convincing that I had a moment of disorientation, after the preview was over and I had taken off the headset. While I was writing notes on my experience, I felt as if my hands should be metallic red, almost like my human hands were not my own. My brain caught up shortly after, but it was a weird sensation.
Overall, though, Marvel’s Iron Man VR is as fantastic as advertised. For a moment, you get to be a superhero in a convincing simulation. There is no release date or price point set, to date, but considering how fulfilling it was to be Iron Man in this VR game was, no price will be too high.