By Jason Quinn / October 14th, 2019
|Title||Metal Wolf Chaos XD
|Developer||General Arcade, FromSoftware, Inc|
|Release Date||August 6th 2019|
|Genre||Action, Third Person Shooter|
|Platform||PC, Xbox One, PS4|
|Age Rating||T for Teen|
Metal Wolf Chaos XD is a remaster of the original Xbox exclusive, published by Devolver Digital, and originally developed by From Software. This remaster was developed by General Arcade. For some years now, the game has enjoyed a sort of cult status, mostly for its rather absurd, over-the-top story, and rather amusingly bad voice acting. It hasn’t been the easiest game to play due to never releasing outside of Japan. Now though, it’s certainly a lot more available than it was before.
You take on the role of President of the United States, Michael Wilson. Your vice president, Richard Hawk, has staged a coup for some reason, so now you have only one real response to this. Hop in a giant mech and wage a personal war to take back America. The story does not take itself seriously for a moment, with every development being somehow more absurd than the last. There’s a giant cannon built on the island of Alcatraz to threaten nearby civilians. Government sanctioned human trafficking being run out of Miami. Every stage in the game feels like the writers just trying to come up with something cartoonishly evil for you to thwart. You never really know why Richard Hawk is doing all of this. He just is, and you have to stop him.
To complicate matters, the whole country has branded you the traitor, thanks to some exaggerated propaganda against you. A news network called “DNN” twists everything you do to make you look like the aggressor. The game takes a rather predictable path, but it has an undeniable charm that makes it all very entertaining. All the voice acting is in English even though the game was originally Japan only. The bad voice acting just kinda enhances the absurd nature of the plot.
For better or worse, seeing hyper exaggerated “american-isms” is the main appeal of this game. Rough gameplay is kind of expected of From Software, but usually there’s something that makes it interesting. I couldn’t find much here. Most of the enemies you fight are just these stationary towers that pose little threat. The most threatening enemies are ones that shoot homing missiles, but the majority of those enemies are stationary helicopters. One level in the game pits you against three other mechs, and it legitimately felt like a fun challenge, but you never fight anything like them ever again.
The controls and mechanics and such are perfectly fine. Your mech handles fine, movement is somewhat clunky, but appropriately so, given that you are controlling a giant hunk of metal. Before each mission, you can equip your mech with up to 8 weapons, 4 each for your right and left arms. You can spend money to upgrade weapon types, though then you have to actually buy the weapons to use them, which costs more money. I feel like it’s a bit redundant, just having to buy them would’ve been enough, I think having to “research” them first is a bit pointless.
There’s a pretty large variety of weapons: shotguns, machine guns, assault rifles, rocket launchers, missile launchers, and more. However one weapon type reigns supreme and that is the machine gun. Once you upgrade it enough to get the MG200, the game’s difficulty curve takes a nosedive and never recovers. These weapons shred through everything better than just about anything else. Even structures that are resistant to light arms fire fall incredibly quickly. The downside is that they eat through ammo very fast, but there’s really nothing stopping you from just buying multiples of these and loading up with as many of them as you can carry. Once I got these, the only other guns I mainly used were rocket launchers for when I needed range. Other weapons are perfectly fine, machine guns are just extremely strong.
Even though machine guns make the game fairly easy, dying is still very much possible for a couple reasons. Some missions have instant death pits that are fairly easy to fall into. It’s also very possible to get stunlocked by homing missiles. Getting hit by one will stop you in your tracks, and if you get hit by a string of them, you can die without being able to really do anything to stop it. To make things worse, there are no checkpoints at all during missions. If you die, you restart from the beginning. These last two things making the final boss significantly harder and more annoying than it otherwise would be. Each mission has very different objectives, though ultimately it all boils down to destroying anything that’s on your radar. Sometimes there’s some sort of time limit, or a boss fight, but it ends up playing out roughly the same every time. Whether you’re invading Alcatraz to stop a super weapon, or stopping gas attacks in Chicago, it’s still just destroying all the big towers that are on your map.
The main appeal of Metal Wolf Chaos is probably in replaying the missions to get a better score. You’re graded on basic things like how much damage you cause and how much damage you take. The combo score is probably the trickiest thing to do well on. Killing things in quick succession results in a combo. It doesn’t really feel designed with this in mind though, as in order to keep up your combo, you basically have to always be killing something. Any break at all, and your combo ends. Enemies tend to be spread out in small little groups rather than paced in such a way that you can always keep the combo going, so it just feels out of place. I love arcade games that you’re meant to play over and over. The core of those games is a really satisfying gameplay loop, and that sort of thing just isn’t here.
On the technical side of things, there’s kind of a lot wrong here. The audio mixing is very poor. Music is almost inaudible in some cutscenes, making some scenes more awkward than they should be. Visually, the game just looks significantly worse than the original, which is very disappointing. Particle and lighting effects that accentuated the gameplay are completely gone. The colors also look very desaturated. Some of the effects not being there makes shooting things feel a lot more lifeless. The original has lots of bright, warm colors, while this remaster looks just drab and faded by comparison. Hopefully, developers that ported the game are able to improve this in the future.
I am glad Metal Wolf Chaos has a modern release. I just wish it didn’t have the problems it does. I’d also argue that it’s perhaps best remembered from a distance. While the cutscenes and dialogue have a wonderful charm about them, the gameplay itself is not nearly as remarkable. The game is currently $25, and it’ll last you at least 10 hours, or more if you like it enough to try to get high scores. With the visual aspect of this game just not being up to par with the original, if you have the means to play the original, or own it already, I can’t see this remaster being a compelling purchase. For anyone that’s just curious, or wants to experience more of From Software’s library, I’d at least recommend trying to pick it up when it’s on sale and going in with tempered expectations.
Review copy was provided by the publisher.
Devolver DigitalFromSoftwaremechaMetal Wolf Chaosmetal wolf chaos xdThird Person Shooter