Are you a bad enough nigga to be the president
Before From Software was synonymous with dark souls, he was pumping mech games. For myself as someone who tore every souls game multiple times at this point – From will probably still be linked to armored core in my eyes more than anything (next to king’s field).
armored core was really something else, pushing the action-oriented mechanical mayhem to the fore when there really weren’t many genre staples to go around (heavy equipmentanyone?), while retaining some of the game simulation based elements like mechanical warrior.
Metal Wolf Chaos is another feather in From’s robot cap, but there’s nothing seismic about this absurd action game.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD (PC, PS4 [reviewed]Xbox One)
Developer: From Software, General Arcade
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Released: August 6, 2019
To some, Metal Wolf Chaos is just a legend.
It came out in 2004 on Xbox (I miss the man when we had amazing Xbox exclusives from Eastern studios) only in Japan, with the Vanity of the President of the United States taking control of a super mech to fight off a military coup. A mechanical game, from the creators of armored core, with a ridiculous plot: you can see why the legend survived. It is now a reality in the West thanks to a localization by Devolver Digital and a port of General Arcade, under the guise of Metal Wolf Chaos XD.
The entire game takes place inside said mech, which is unprecedented (at least in this universe) technology that sports a number of advanced weapon systems and fast-moving moves. As President, you’ll flee Washington DC and take refuge in San Francisco (I told you it was ridiculous) to plan your revenge, before slicing your way across the country to take down the evil Vice President. I wish more modern games were this crazy.
The robot is fully customizable with a separate dual-trigger weapon system. Initially, the right side consists of your staples (like pistols and rifles) and the left side is your heavy gear (rocket launchers), with the ability to swap out other weapons as you get them. search. It’s a fairly simple concept to grasp within the first few minutes, making for a smoother transition from weapon swapping into action (and visual cues with clear weapon models and UI cues after an exchange). Beyond that, you just need to boost, jump, stomp, and occasionally unleash your ultimate attack (“blaze”, by clicking both analog sticks).
It’s a bit like EDF in that you can not only take down troops with individual shots, but also go further and blow up the entire structure they are standing on with rockets. Most of the game (apart from the perimeters and solid walls) is made of destructible matter, which comes in handy when you’re turning into a bigger powerhouse. It can be slow at first: there are instances in early missions where you’re sitting there shooting at an objective with low ammo (if I have any advice for readers, it’s to use lots of l stomp attack, especially on structures, to conserve ammunition).
That speed I was talking about earlier comes in the form of boosts, which you can use to strafe, dash, escape, or even hover a bit with an air dash. My favorite mechanic (kept from the original) is the fact that the left analog stick is mapped to boost, which is much easier to hit on the fly for strafe than the alternative square/X button setup on the DualShock remote. 4 and Xbox respectively (no hotshoe required). So you understand how he controls: how is all this madness organized?
This is a mission-based game where almost every objective is to “kill/blow something up”, which you’ll do on medium-sized sandbox maps. I really have to emphasize this: Metal Wolf Chaos XD is steeped in old-school game design. Sometimes you’ll run through a map to the “end” before realizing “shit, I actually forgot an objective at the start and need to go back”. There are also some clumsily designed boss fights (Fight House’s infamous throwbacks) and a few enemies that will completely blow your mind in a few hits. I’m not going to say that’s part of the charm, because it was a problem then and it’s a problem now.
With that in mind, I generally had so much fun going through enemies, upgrading my robot, and locating secrets that those moments were much more manageable. Depending on your penchant for action games and your ability to craft the perfect chef-kiss loadouts, missions can take you anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour each, factoring in restarts. The full campaign lasts about six hours, with a New Game+ option that unlocks skins.
The sheer absurdity of it all isn’t lost pretty much at some point, which is another source of solace. There is a VSDNN propaganda news station (topical!), and it’s all hilariously exaggerated. Like for example when you go to “Phoenix (Arizona)”, it’s not an actual representation of today’s Phoenix, but an old western town. Now I know there are tourist trap type old west sets/relics in Arizona but you get the idea what From Software wants here with the parody aspect in the key of God’s hand (which actually came after metal wolfbut is probably one of the closest well-known analogues).
Big improvements for 2019 XD include tweaked visuals, “refined controls”, and a better save system (autosaves are in place). In other words: a bit more than the standard average bogs remaster, but still pretty much the same basic experience as it was in 2004. Devolver Digital even recorded noting that the content, notably the overdone voice acting, remains unchanged despite remastering efforts.
In a tricky time of remasters, where nostalgia against modern sophistication arguments are heating up, I have to give it to Devolver and From for showing restraint here – especially since Western audiences are still able to experience the game the same way others have. a decade ago. This means that dialogues such as “as Americans we love freedom”, “Well, I guess they won’t vote for you next time”, and “I feel bad for the owner of the building, but let’s blow it up anyway” are fully intact.
Although XD looks better than the original, it’s still limited by some very basic particle effects, lots of disappearing models, and other general visual issues (subtitles are white on white which is generally bad and makes them difficult to read, especially during DNN broadcasts). I also encountered a hang (my PS4 was still operational, so it wasn’t a big crash) when I tried to return to the hub menu during a mission. These are mostly minor complaints in regards to the remastering work itself, as personally I would have been fine with a backward compatible “Xbox Original” version on Xbox One.
Before you get too excited, it’s important to note that I collect these types of games, and have just about every existing action version of nightmarish creatures for Bujingai: the abandoned city. Although there is a feeling of whether something is “dated” or not, for the most part a good action game is a good action game.
Metal Wolf Chaos meets this criteria due to its unique premise that wouldn’t be out of place in the late ’80s, combined with From Software’s penchant for mechanical combat (I just made it up). If you hate old games and crave the latest visual advancements, steer clear. For everyone else: there’s something here for you to sink into that’s more than just a relic of novelty.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]