I really want to like Gameloft's upcoming Iron Man 3 [Free], as I can totally get behind making a unique-ish game that actually feels like a cool little mobile companion game to an upcoming movie which will no doubt be a total slam dunk like the rest of the Iron Man series... But leave it to Gameloft to shoehorn in the weirdest free to play elements. Nearly a gig installed, Iron Man 3 is a behind the back endless runner flyer where you control Iron Man blasting down a highway (and other locales). The game starts by asking you not only if it can send you push alerts, but also if it can have access to your contacts, and the free to play stuff just gets stranger from there.

I feel like by now the behind the back runner freemium pay model has matured decently, as most of these games you know how they're going to work and how you're going to pay for them regardless of whether you're stealing an idol in Temple Run [Free] or running through underground lairs in Agent Dash [Free]. Iron Man 3 follows in a similar path, but adds the innovative feature of timers not only linked to each of these upgrades, but also to just playing the game itself. It's easy enough to say "Well, whatever" to needing to wait a bit before your armor upgrade takes effect, but needing to either wait or pay premium currency to skip repairing your suit between runs seems bananas.

It's too bad, too, as Iron Man 3 is actually a pretty neat game. The sense of speed is good, the different sections of the game split between flying on the ground and avoiding traffic and flying in the air with almost Fruit Ninja-style swiping to shoot your laser around is a lot of fun- Especially if you even vaguely enjoy the Iron Man universe. It's just so easy to reach that point where you hit a timer, say, "Alright, nuts to this," and go play a different game.

It seems like Gameloft has taken a really weird approach to the whole free to play thing recently, as the best free to play titles put the actual game in the driver's seat while the freemium elements are easily within reach in the nearby proverbial cup holder if you want to take a sip off of them. Take Nimble Quest [Free] for instance, you can grind away all day slowly collecting crystals with nothing getting in your way. The free to play road blocks run along side the game, instead of the Gameloft approach which throws very deliberate stopping points in a way that directly conflicts with the specific genre.

Constantly chugging potions is just what you do in dungeon crawlers, but in Dungeon Hunter 4 [Free], that's directly gated via a time sink. Similarly, the whole idea behind these endless runners is just constantly retrying... And it feels really weird when you can't just hit "retry," and instead need to wait for Jarvis to repair your suit. These repair time sinks, much like Real Racing 3 [Free], are mitigated a bit by unlocking different suits (the first of which takes 15 real-world minutes to "build"), but it still doesn't make the whole thing feel any less gross. Maybe things smooth out as you get deeper into the game, but my initial impressions of Iron Man 3 aren't great- Which is a real problem in free to pay games where users make that initial "Do I invest time in this or delete it" judgement call in the first few play sessions.

It'll be out tonight at 11:00 PM Eastern, or potentially way earlier if you're east of the US App Store region. If you want to be notified when the game is available, add it to your TouchArcade app [Free] watch list. Alternatively, you can just watch the game get burnt to the ground in our forums, which I'm sure will only get worse as the US App Store witching hour approaches tonight. We'll take an in-depth look at the game soon to try to figure out just how much you have to wait (or pay) to see all the cool stuff Gameloft shows off in Iron Man 3's trailer.

International App Store Link: Iron Man 3, Free

  • http://matt-curtis.me/ Matt Curtis

    I'm glad you guys said it - Gameloft has been going down a rather terrible path with their new, terrible freemium angle. I'd rather be known as the company that makes respectable knockoffs of popular titles than one who consistently makes poor, money grubbing games that put cash over gameplay.

    • chimpman252

      Gameloft is the EA of iOS. So is EA.

      • dariusjr98

        EA is the EA of EA. It's sad because that's actually saying something.

      • Adams Immersive

        EA makes EA look like EA.

      • ImJPaul

        My ex left me for EA. Then EA was such a terd he changed his name on twitter to "IstoleYOgirl". Then gameloft stole her from EA and changed his name on twitter to "MyFreemiumModelsAreWayBetterPsIStoleYOGirl". Point being EA and Gameloft will steal everything you love and then rub it in your face when they've reaped their reward. This is a 100% true story and not exaggerated in the least.

      • Tranceaholic

        Did I accidentally wander into an IGN forum?

      • Hoggy110

        *insert unnecessary flame war here*

      • dariusjr98

        It's funny because the IGN community is a bunch of pricks.

      • PureRumble

        Priceless! Made me laugh so loud my mom got spooked! :-D

    • toxiccheese

      Developers just don't seem to get it. We want to 'play' the game... not 'wait to play' the game!

      • Banzboy

        No you got it wrong, they want you to 'pay' the game not play.

    • MidianGTX

      This. But I've yet to see a respectable knock off either. I suppose we can dream.

  • mr_bez

    Love the screenshot - "Play as Iron Man like never before." Yeah, intermittently between timers!

  • Bischi777

    Such a shame... I once liked Gameloft a lot.

  • DannyTheElite

    It's only a few minutes.. It can't be the only game you have. Just play for a while and then play something else.

    • Zeldaniac

      ...seriously? If a game like Call of Duty switched to freemium but had a 30m wait after every mission, the people would freak out. But it's not the only game you have, right?

    • Sunshine

      Better yet, just play something else in the first place? Much easier to manage.

  • holden2015

    Thus game looks sooooo good but game loft just butchered it oh well…nothing to see here!

    R.I.P Gameloft =P

  • Josh Dombro

    The bigger issue to me is the size of the game. You said it's almost a gig - how worth it is Iron Man 3 with that in mind? I'm always fighting for space on my phone and have to really love something to justify giving it that much market share... At this point, I'm not even going to try it, I'd much rather check out 5-10 smaller games

  • iValerio90

    freemium suck, gameloft and ea = sh*t

    • Bischi777

      I gladly paid 5$ for pocketplanes. Their freemium model is fair and the developer is simpatico. But Gameloft just slaps it in your face. I really would have liked dungeon hunter 4 and would easily have dropped a buck or two if it weren't for their greedy propaganda.

      -1 Fanboy

      • Diaboliq

        Same here, these "games" are disgusting, no way in hell I'm touching this steaming pile of money grabbing garbage, they should be ashamed of themselves

      • iValerio90

        YOU HERETIC! But pocket planes is..acceptable..

      • TakenXXDeadly

        Anyone else notice the -1 upvote?

    • wildperson

      You're trying too hard to fit in, pal. Not all freemium is bad.

      • iValerio90

        I WILL DESTROY FREEMIUM FROM EVERY DICTIONARY! And every freemium supporter or buyer will be BURNED!

      • Skullinton

        Good luck with that...

      • PureRumble

        genocide...

        even hitler would let u know "dude u got problems. No seriously man get help!"

      • MidianGTX

        Most is. If you're going to judge it on black and white, you might as well just hate all of it.

    • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

      I understand not liking fremium. But this attitude stuff is equally weak-sauce. I know 'haters gotta hate', but get over yourself, dude.
      It's a freakin' game and you don't have to play it / dload it / etc etc. Maybe you should go outside for awhile and CTFO?

  • Tomtomp44632

    This game is gonna be REELY bad

  • sakara214ever

    Stealoft. Bah F@ck off.

  • TrencH

    This is really a damn shame..I was looking forward to this game with Iron man license and the intense flying. You hit the nail on the head with having to wait for a endless runner timer.

    This is exactly the type of game that you just have to get one more try.

    There is some serious greed going on with these games lately. The only way to beat it is don't buy the stuff to skip the timers or play other games which you can actually play as much or as little as you want.

    As long as they are supported and they can profit they will keep this thing going. What makes this even more sickening is reading other games forums where gamers input is factored and there is lots of feedback between the both. You see some of these guys really working to make it great game by listening.

    Others are just interested in profits and the bottom line I guess. If not... then what are they thinking really?

    I see two kinds who will play this game, those who will play once in while and those who feed one to five dollars (or much more) into the game (constantly) like a crack fiend.

  • http://twitter.com/phonecats phonecats

    These aggressive IAP and timers will not stand, man.

  • iammane

    I love how TA refers to IAP as gross, it's the perfect adjective.

  • Thunder7tm

    I used to like Gameloft... Until they started putting IAP in their games.

  • Greyskull

    This is getting ridiculous.

  • ImJPaul

    I don't mind the fermium model in the least. I still play Dragonvale religiously and sink (embarrassingly) ridiculous amounts of money into it. Real Racing 3?! You bet. I have and play many freemium games but if I ever have to stop playing my game and pay money well then it's a no go. Dungeon Hunter 4 was absurd. This is more absurd. Oh well. There will always be honest indie developers. Then there's Gameloft.

  • Greyskull

    I don't get it...Gameloft is one of the few companies who COULD sell a huge number of copies of a given game at 5 dollars + a pop.

    • rotopenguin

      No, they really can't. Gameloft dumps their games a month after release for $0.99 because it's hard for a customer to justify that as a _bad_ deal. I have a pile of their $1 games, and I paid $20 an hour for the fun that I managed to squeeze out of them. Playing a $60, 7 hour AAA game is actually a better use of my money and time.

  • B30

    All we all can do is not downloading such "money-grabbing-garbage" at all!

    • B30

      I meant: All we can do ...

  • pinchez

    I think Freemium will eventually bring the demise of phone/tablet gaming and people will start going back to traditional handhelds from the likes of Sony and Nintendo. I'd rather spend a one off £26 for Luigi's Mansion than download any of this Freemium garbage!

  • metalmandave83

    You know your game sucks when you have to put timers on it to keep people from playing it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gabriel.sales.507 Gabriel Sales

    This game is a recordist in my "not downloading this shit" bar. It has all 3 characteristics that I hate on games:
    1: Its a endless runner
    2: Its super hero based
    3: Its freemium

    • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

      What's wrong w/superhero based? Hey now!! :D

  • curtneedsaride

    I'm not going to download this because it is 1GB installed, it has ridiculous IAP, and it has friggin' TIMERS! Why the heck would I free up a couple gigs on my iPhone to put something on it that will just make me wait to play. Then in a year the server that hosts all the IAP will go down and the game will bow out.

    Gameloft, I would have paid $5 for this endless flyer had it been 500mb or less, NOT hindered by timers, and not hindered by timers. You might want to rethink your new business model. Otherwise, I'll just continue to not buy your games.

    PS. The Dark Knight Rises was an awesome release and I paid for it happily.

  • PureRumble

    "Yo dog, i heard u like timers"

    No. I dont. I hate them. I wanna piss on them like a dog does

  • Allen Arcelo

    You heard wrong, Dawg.

  • araczynski

    Chill out guys, this game wasn't made for you, it's for the sheeple, which is the majority, therefore this game will make them much money bucks, no matter how much it sucks.

    • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

      The Sheeple. :D
      Money bucks? heh heh

  • dariusjr98

    I swear to god...the moment they make a f2p NOVA or Modern Combat is the day I lose the last OUNCE of respect for Gameloft.

  • Deimuel Valite

    a remake of space impact in 3D and and free to pay

  • AppsGoer

    GOOD, Check review Go to iOS.AppsGoer com

  • JCat_NY

    Can't wait to never download this.

  • eventide

    Why I've always ALWAYS hated lameloft.

  • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

    600+ megs? Pass. Even tho I'd bet this game *SUCKS IT*.
    (That said, I'll be seeing the movie & probably buying DVD/BluRay. Love the Marvel franchise.)