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Metal Wolf Chaos XD

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: General Arcade
Release Date: Aug. 6, 2019


PC Review - 'Metal Wolf Chaos XD'

by Cody Medellin on Oct. 18, 2019 @ 6:00 a.m. PDT

In this unusual giant robot action game, the President of the United States dons powerful battle armor to defend his country against invading forces.

Buy Metal Wolf Chaos XD

Japan is home to some exclusive games that were never released in North America. Some titles make sense, since a visual novel like Braveknight serves a very niche audience, as does Jockey's Road, a horse-racing RPG. Then there's the curious case of Metal Wolf Chaos. At the time, From Software was already known for its mech series, Armored Core, and having a more arcade-like version of that game would have been fine, but despite all signs pointing to the title hitting North American and European shelves, that never occurred. It's 15 years later, and we're finally getting the game on all of the major platforms with Metal Wolf Chaos XD.

Metal Wolf Chaos XD takes place in the beginning of the 21st century, and you play the role of President Michael Wilson. Before you learn about your character, you discover through the game's text introduction that the United States fell into chaos when your Vice President Richard Hawk staged a military coup to put himself into power. Your only logical course of action is to jump into your mech, hop on a fleeing Air Force One, and make your way back to Washington, D.C., while liberating other cities along the way.

The story was silly all those years ago, and it remains so today. Much of this has to o with the characters. Richard is a typical cartoon villain hamming things up in every scene, and two other characters act like this, too. President Wilson speaks like a typical cartoon hero, but the references to constant partying give him a more carefree attitude. The same goes for your secretary, Jody, who seems perpetually happy, even when your mech has sustained critical damage. The fact that the game and the dialogue are completely tongue-in-cheek is a good indicator of how From Software was trying to give the game a late-night movie vibe instead of the more serious Armored Core series. About the only part that might bring a pause to the levity are the news reports, which carry more bite given the current political climate.

As alluded to earlier, Metal Wolf Chaos XD has much in common with From's more serious mech franchise, at least mechanically. You may have a mech, but it isn't such a big machine that you'll crush buildings or step on infantry. You can boost around the environment in spurts, since you have a meter that regulates the cooling. You can wield two different weapons at a time with limited ammo for each, but a signature item in almost all of the company's mech games is the aiming reticle. It takes some getting used to, but having two of them simultaneously gives you a quick read on the appropriate weapon for the range.

Beyond this, the game is more arcade-like in nature. The action is fast, and your mech moves at a breezy clip, with the added ability of jumping to a decent height. There's a sense of speed you'd expect from a human in a third-person shooter. You can take up to eight weapons with you into a battle, and you can switch between four on each arm on the fly. Ammo and health pick-ups can be gathered on the field, and you're regularly encouraged to blow up everything you can to find those things. The game also has leaderboards and a score for each stage, further accentuating the more arcade nature.

The focus on arcade action makes the game feel pretty comfortable. Essentially, you drop into a level with a few objectives to accomplish, like blowing up small enemy bases or communication towers, hopefully luring out the level's boss. Along the way, you'll face off against plenty of cannon fodder in the form of infantry that can easily be killed but can also deal plenty of damage if you aren't paying attention. Deviate from the objective for a bit, and you can rescue scientists and get some rare metals. Both are important for leveling up your guns, which are essential for conquering future levels. While going for a straightforward path through the stages is recommended, those who are feeling less confident can replay levels to grind out what they need to upgrade their weapons.

That arcade loop puts you into some ridiculous action-filled situations. A jaunt to San Francisco might start off with you blowing up enemy forces in Chinatown, but you'll ultimately need to blow up a cannon on Alcatraz that's directly aimed at the city. You'll try to save Miami from a mass bombing, and Chicago needs to be protected from a poison gas attack. It all works well due to the amount of destruction you can deliver. You aren't looking something akin to Red Faction or Earth Defense Force, where you can easily decimate things into neat chunks of rubble, but the constant presence of enemy troops, tanks and trucks means that you must shoot at everything you can all of the time — and have fun doing so.

While the game excels at action, it also has some traits that have long been abandoned by other similar titles. For starters, there are no checkpoints. Levels can be quite lengthy, but auto-saving only occurs once you complete a mission and are sent back to Air Force One. Unless you make it a practice to perform manual saves often, expect to be beaten back to the beginning of a stage once you die; that can occur quite often as the difficulty ratchets up toward the end of the game. Metal Wolf Chaos XD is also lacking in waypoints and tutorials, something that might be a positive if you dislike the constant hints in modern action games. The areas aren't very, large and the map is decent at giving you the locations of some enemies. If you aren't a fan of exploring a level on your own, though, you'll dislike being forced to do it here.

One disappointing thing about this release is the lack of extras. This is as straightforward of a port as you're going to get, enough so that you won't see much of a difference between this version and the original Xbox iteration. Extra modes might be asking for too much, but considering the long wait, a few throwaway things would've been nice, like concept art or promotional materials.

Despite the upgrade in resolution, the presentation takes great pains to remind you that it was remarkable even 15 years ago. The textures on the buildings are low-resolution, and the very muted color palette is reminiscent of the transition period between late Xbox titles and early Xbox 360 titles. Details are scarce, explosions lack any oomph, and the debris caused by your fighting is minimal. It all holds together at a solid 30fps, but it would've been nicer if the developers had bumped this up to 60fps. Sound-wise, the music is fine but won't drive you to action or stir up patriotic feelings. The sound effects pack some punch, but the voice acting stands out in both good and bad ways. As mentioned earlier, everything is appropriately terrible, with nonsensical dialogue and odd voice inflections. The actual recording quality of the voices sounds a bit hollow, as if it could've used another clarity pass to become pitch perfect.

Your enjoyment of Metal Wolf Chaos XD is dependent on your tolerance for old game design and cheesy dialog. The lack of checkpoints and auto-saving during missions is going to hurt once you're in the back half of the game. Its humor is also hit-and-miss, depending on whether you take it seriously. Its absurdity pairs nicely with some solid gameplay mechanics, and it has enough of that conviction to make you overlook the flaws and give the game a fair shake. For action fans who aren't too picky, Metal Wolf Chaos XD is worth checking out.

Score: 7.5/10

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