The developers of Iron Man 2 for the PSP must know what they're doing. For one thing, I played through the entire game without realizing that Robert Downey, Jr., was not voicing protagonist Tony Stark. For another, I finished the game twice. Granted, it's a short game, not all that much longer than one of the movies if you know what you’re doing. But it's still a good time.
In an original story by Marvel Comics' own Matt Fraction, you guide Iron Man and War Machine across the globe in an effort to foil the plans of a renegade scientist and his army of metal-clad soldiers. Perhaps because I had never played a similar game on a handheld system before, the controls seemed a little goofy to me at first. But from the start, you do get a feeling of just how powerful the Golden Avenger is, as you hover in the air and take out opponents with just a tap of the trigger. Once you get the hang of the flying and aiming, you can clear a room pretty quickly.
Of course, having a grossly overpowered hero wouldn't translate into lasting fun, so there are the requisite boss battles and puzzles to solve. However, this is where Iron Man 2 runs into some problems.
It's pretty much like mowing a lawn most of the time: sweep through one section, sweep through the next.
The grunts you fight against tend to take shots at you and then seek a better tactical position, so as unheroic as it sounds, you do kill an inflated percentage of foot soldiers by shooting them in the back. A couple of the cut scenes even make a point of reminding you that Iron Man/War Machine pretty much just has to flex his wrist to end a human life. You'd think that maybe tons of super weapons or environmental obstacles would be thrown into the mix to offset all the squishies, but it's pretty much like mowing a lawn most of the time: sweep through one section, sweep through the next.
The puzzles are similar to the ones in BioShock. When you have to hack in to a closed system, you are presented with a series of circles you have to rotate in order to make a connection. Oh, . . . did I say "have to rotate"? Because you don't technically have to manipulate the shapes yourself. You see, there's an option every time to just press a button and have the system hack itself for you. Similarly, if you get down to zero in some situations, you can play another mini game to regain all your energy, and that, too, is self-solving at the push of a button.
So let's put it all together. The forces out to destroy Iron Man are largely easy to dispatch, the puzzles meant to keep him out are one button press away from solving themselves, and the bosses are more than happy to wait for our hero to reconfigure his life support and regain 100% of his energy without losing a beat.
But in spite of all this nearly game-breaking remedial "challenge," Iron Man 2 is worth twenty bucks. There are a lot of weapons variations with which to play around, the missions are just the right length, you can always opt out of the one-button puzzle solutions, and you can experience the story as either Tony Stark or James Rhodes. This last selling point isn't as solid as it might sound, since War Machine – voiced by Don Cheadle – is a little boring and Iron Man is a little too glib, but it works. And some of the collectible items you use to power up the metal suits are pretty well hidden.
In truth, I can see a lot of gamers completing Iron Man 2 twice. It's not a bad time on the PSP. If you try to get all the bonuses and power up at least most of the weapons, you can extract maybe eight hours of bite-sized action out of this title.