First Impressions: IRON MAN 2: THE GAME

Trailer: Iron Man 2 - Video Game

When the bigwigs at SEGA call with an invitation to check out their full slate of games for the next 9 months or so, it's nearly impossible to turn that down. We answered one such call last week, and the first game we got to sit down with in a private hotel Penthouse suite was .

David Allen, SEGA's brand manager for the game, handled the controls; they weren't quite ready to hand the controller over to press just yet, as the game isn't due out until April 2010, just ahead of the movie by the same name.He played through an indoor area, fighting various mechs and robots, then took the fight outside to fly, take on some helicopters and other more mobile enemies, and finally take down (and get taken down a bit by) some big, powerful tanks.

"It's just good to blow up loads of stuff," Allen said while demonstrating the destructable environment. Loads of walls, pallettes, barrels, roofs, columns, and more were affected as Iron Man zipped around shooting and punching enemies. A lot of fans complained about the action in the first game being too "far off" and repetitive, so this one is designed to be "more in your face" as often as possible. To that end, there are 3 combat styles you can load into the suit at the start of a mission, out of an as yet undetermined total amount. Allen showed us Kung Fu and Brute, which looked just as they sound; Kung Fu had Iron Man using a flashy series of kicks and punches (including a rocket propelled quick kick that was reminiscent of Liu Kang from ), while Brute had him picking up mechs that were about 3 times his size and slamming them down on the ground to break them apart.

Simpler, more intuitive controls are also a big focus for the game sequel. In this one, Jarvis (the assistive artificial intelligence from the movie) controls the suit's energy adjustments. In the first game, you had to change the allotment on a regular  basis, moving more energy to your weapons, shields, and thrusters as the situation called for it. Now that's all done automatically. If you're flying, more energy will shift to your thrusters, for example. Hovering is automatic, as well, rather than being something you had to dynamically control. All this is done so there's more focus on you actually using the suits' combat abilities rather than the minutia.

There will be suits, plural, in the game, though Allen couldn't divulge exactly which ones. When asked point blank if "suits featured in the leaked movie footage" would be available, Allen replied, "possibly, but I can't really talk about it yet." He gave a similar response when asked about assistive characters showing up, like Black Widow and Rhodey in the War Machine suit, this time with a smirk. Scarlett Johansson has said in interviews that she'd love to play Black Widow in the game as well, though, and it's doubtful they'd pass up that opportunity.

The game takes place "mostly" in the movie universe, but uses aspects from the comics as well, as game co-writer Matt Fraction (Invincible Iron Man, Uncanny X-Men) also noted when we spoke to him. Allen revealed that Crimson Dynamo will be the main boss in the game (he doesn't appear in the film), but how he winds up behind everything will be revealed throughout the game.

Speaking on Matt Fraction's involvement, Allen complemented the writer. "Fraction is not a take the money and run kind of guy," he said, and insisted on press about him co-writing the game be listed as just that, co-writing. In addition, Fraction has gone above and beyond, according to Allen, working with the development team, offering tweaks to the script and story to work better for the game. "He's been learning a lot with us, and got better every second," when it came to developing a story for a game rather than a comic.

So far, it looks as though the promise of a much stronger showing will be fulfilled. SEGA's team fully acknowledged the sub-par first game, and seems to be taking a cue from Activision's in not staying quite so strictly to the movie's storyline; instead, they're working on making a fun game that stars Iron Man in a universe movie goers and comic readers alike will recognize.


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