The unprecedented success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has seen an increase in the amount of video games tied to the comics. While some like Marvel’s Spider-Man have resounding successes, others like Marvel’s Avengers have been less well-received. With the recent announcement that EA Motive Studio is making a new third-person action game based on Iron Man, it is in a strong position to build upon what makes the best of the Marvel games so successful, while avoiding some wider pitfalls.
In many ways, the release of 2008’s Iron Man movie was a landmark event. Not only did it revitalize the flagging career of Robert Downey Jr., it also kickstarted the MCU and introduced Iron Man to a whole new audience. In a superhero landscape that Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man largely dominated at the time, Iron Man was a breath of fresh air. This new project won’t be Iron Man’s first foray into the world of video games, but it’s an exciting prospect nevertheless.
What Spider-Man Could Teach Iron Man
When trying to find a blueprint for the perfect superhero game, Marvel’s Spider-Man likely springs to mind. The 2018 PlayStation exclusive received praise for everything from the visuals, gameplay, combat, and traversal to the story and customization options. Insomniac Games seemed to know exactly what people wanted from a single-player Spider-Man experience, and the game is able to confidently swing between a narrative-driven experience and an open-world sandbox with ease.
Traversal is a particular highlight, with many praising Spider-Man’s smooth, fluid mobility when zipping and diving across New York’s skyscrapers. With traversal being such an important part of Iron Man’s repertoire too, it is crucial that EA Motive sticks the landing with this aspect. The very nature of Tony Stark’s Iron Man suits demands unhindered freedom for the player to traverse whatever environment they find themselves in. Thanks to Stark’s powerful jet thrusters, he is able to propel himself in any direction at lightning-fast speeds, while also being able to hover on the spot.
The open-world environment in Marvel’s Spider-Man would seemingly be a perfect fit for Iron Man, too. While having a strong narrative to propel the action forward will likely be high on the developer’s agenda, it should not come at the expense of Iron Man’s freedom to explore. It would be anticlimactic to give Iron Man awesome flight mechanics, but not the freedom of a sandbox to use them in.
Combat is an area where the two games could drastically differ. Spider-Man’s Arkham-inspired free-flowing combat is fast and reactive, with an emphasis on getting right up in the enemy’s face. While Iron Man is no slouch in hand-to-hand combat, the majority of his offensive prowess comes from various forms of firepower built into his suits, meaning combat will likely offer the player more ranged options.