Iron Man 3 review - control the metal-clad super-hero from the hit movie

Iron Man 3 for iOS sees you controlling the metal-clad super-hero of the same name, from the recent movie.

The gameplay of Iron Man 3 is something of a surprise: it takes cues from games like Temple Run mixed with a tap-to-shoot game like Fruit Ninja. Tony Stark flies along a pre-determined path and you roll the iPhone/iPod touch left and right to dodge obstacles and pick up ISO-8 tokens (the game’s currency).

When you’re not dodging obstacles tapping the screen fires Iron Man’s laser at robot enemies. Stay alive long enough to fight the enemies, pick up the tokens, fight the end-of-level bosses and progress through the game. It’s all fairly straightforward shoot-‘em-up stuff, and perfectly good fun. The only real downside is the lack of Robert Downey Jr.’s voice (despite being an official tie-in). 

Special mention must be made of the visuals. The graphics look especially fabulous on a Retina display iPhone. Because the game runs on-rails it can push all the power towards creating short, great looking levels that are packed with detail and fly along quickly. It's a huge step forward from the previous Iron Man: Arial Assault title.

Iron Man 3 for iPhone graphics

See: iPhone game reviews

There is, however, a really contentious issue with Iron Man 3. Gameloft has gone with a Fremium business model that limits how much you can play the game. So rather than selling the game (and it’s a quality title so we think it’s worth a few pounds) the developers give the game away for free, and encourage owners to buy ISO-8 in-game packs. These obviously allow you to purchase extra perks, such as upgraded weapons and new Iron Man suits (including the ones from the movie).

But as an extra incentive you have to spend ISO-8 when you run out of energy on a level, or you have to wait for your suit to be fixed (the time you have to wait slowly increases). So you are faced with a choice of using up your ISO-8 to carry on playing or waiting to restart the level – if you’re out of ISO-8 then you can head to the store to buy some (in amounts from £1.49 to a whopping £69.99). As the game progresses it increasingly ups the wait times; when you get a suit upgrade you have to wait 15 minutes for the thing to build.

Iron Man 3 waiting for suit to build 

If you don’t want to spend money then you can also gain cash by taking up various offers, like watching videos or signing up for services (GameFly is offered). The first thing the game asks is if it can send you push alerts and access your contacts. Some people will be more comfortable with this than others. It also seems to work better in some games than others, it works better in Iron Man 3 than in Dungeon Hunter 4, for example.

See also: Dungeon Hunter 4 review

How you feel about Freemium gaming will be a personal decision. Nobody is forcing you to download the free game, pay for ISO-8 tokens or sign up for the services. And cash strapped kids may well rather watch a video, wait a few hours or sign up for GameFly than spend a couple of pounds on the App Store. The Freemium business model (where you give away a full product for free but try to upsell owners to extra features) certainly seems to be one that games developers are keen to integrate into their games. 

We’d advise all potential games developers to take a close look at the business model being explored here.

As a gamer though, your experience might be short lived as you play the game then discover there's a point where you either pay to continue, or watch a slew of ads. But it's free, and it's fun.

Iron Man 3 buying ISO-8

OUR VERDICT

Iron Man 3 is a spectacular video game for iOS. The visuals are neat, it’s gameplay feels modern and is suited to portable and it’s good fun to play. And it’s a free game (of sorts). Developers, and game developers in particular, should take particular note of the Freemium model that is being developed here. We wouldn’t be surprised if this is the way most games become profitable from here on in.

Find the best price