One amusing element of Iron Man's combat system is the ability to grapple enemies. When Iron Man is close to a foe, he can grab onto them, triggering the unit-specific grapple animation. Most of these require a spat of frantic button tapping or a timed button press, and they result in the spectacular destruction of that unit. Breaking helicopters in half and ripping the lids off of tanks is great fun the first few times, but eventually it becomes more of a hassle than it is worth. However, grappling missile batteries or howitzers is often worthwhile because this lets you control them for a few shots and take out a few stubborn enemies quickly. You can also grapple incoming missiles while in flight and throw them at whatever you like, which, in addition to making you feel like a rock star, is a powerful way to deal damage. Unfortunately, the timing is tricky to get down, so more often than not you'll receive a face full of missile for your troubles. Furthermore, later levels are so thick with missiles that in the time it takes to catch and release one, five more will have crashed into your head.
The structural integrity of this helicopter is about to take a bad turn.
Iron Man is reasonably entertaining for a few hours, but then things turn sour. Each level follows the same template that has you taking out a few consecutive groups of targets, then moving on to deal with the superweapon or supervillain (sometimes both). This is fine for a handful of missions, but it quickly grows stale. You'll likely complete the first half of the game's 13 levels with relative ease, but the latter half is a totally different story. Enemies abruptly increase in number and become much tougher, and the air fills with enough missiles to cause a partial solar eclipse. Constant dodging and frequent retreat behind hillsides to recharge your health are essential survival tactics, and even elite evaders will experience their fair share of failure. With no checkpoints to break up the lengthy missions, failing is incredibly frustrating, and it'll take a strong measure of grim determination to soldier on to the end.
Beating certain levels will unlock them for play in the One Man Army mode. This places you in familiar level environs with a time limit and a number of enemies to kill. If you complete your goal, you will unlock one of five classic suits from the Iron Man comics, which you can then use should you choose to replay any level. These might delight Iron Man fans, but if you're really going to attempt levels again, the customizable Mark III suit that you use throughout the campaign is your best bet.
Iron Man makes a decent opening argument against the just-another-movie-game stigma. However, by smacking you with a punishing difficulty spike instead of striving for more complex mission structures, it sacrifices most of the goodwill it garners in the early going. Completing the game is a frustrating trial with no substantial reward, and even sympathetic jurors will have a hard time ruling in its favor.