When they're knocked out of the sky, there's no hint of impact, and when they switch from hovering to rocketing through the clouds you'll struggle to feel any real sense of movement. Missiles and lasers chew through your robotic adversaries with no bite, and melee combat doesn't carry any sense of force at all. I've rarely had so little fun punching helicopters to pieces, and punching helicopters to pieces is something I can almost always count on to cheer me up.
There are a few good ideas - in theory, there's plenty of entertainment to be had juggling weapon recharges, switching combat stances, and unlocking new suits to wear - but there's no energy to the game's battlefields, no exciting variations in the enemies you're facing, and, before you know it, the missions have descended into irritating waypoint trudges. Regardless of whether you're searching the area, escorting SHIELD choppers on attack runs or destroying Tesla Cores, all you're ever really up to is following a tiny little yellow box on your HUD and looking for the way out.
Oddly enough, it's only during the cut-scenes that you'll get hints that the developers had any fun at all with this one. Iron Man 2's story may not have changed my life in too many ways - not the way, say, Outpost Kaloki X did - but it's told with plenty of chirpy exchanges of witticisms and the odd decent performance. It captures the pleasant glibness of the comics and movies, if not their sense of spectacle.
In all fairness, however, I should probably add that the human characters are so strangely modelled they look like the kind of mechanical horrors concocted to entertain desensitised French avante gardistes of the early 20th century after the laudanum had worn off. Tony Stark is closer to Mitsuhirato, the sinister Japanese villain from Tintin book The Blue Lotus, than he is to Robert Downey Jr; Pepper Potts has taken a terminal trip through the jowlinator and emerges resembling the kind of woman who might, one day, turn up married to Prince Andrew; and Black Widow looks like Amy Winehouse and delivers lines in a manner that suggests she whiled away her time in the green room by striking her forehead repeatedly against a sink.
But those are entertaining slips, really. Iron Man 2's ultimate crime is that it simply never makes you feel like you're a lithe metal wrecking ball, saving the world with one impromptu plan after the other. There's no room for tactics in between the waypoints and there are no opportunities for rogue moments of excitement as you take out each new arrangement of weightless foes. SEGA's just about fulfilled its brief - pick up Iron Man 2 and you'll probably get all the way through it - but there's not much pleasure to it, and the lingering sensation is of having seen the work of a defeated development team who were never given a proper chance to do anything interesting.
So, yes, there's definitely a decent game lurking somewhere in Iron Man, but we haven't seen it yet. This one isn't a disaster, but it can be a rather bleak experience.
5 / 10