Release Date: August 6th, 2019 (Xbox One, Playstation 4, Windows PC
Genre: Action Adventure
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: From Software, General Arcade
ESRB: Teen (Blood, Mild Language, Violence)
Metal Wolf Chaos…the long lost rumor of an Xbox original exclusive that never left Japan. This little experiment from Microsoft and From Software is quite interesting to say the least. Stuck in a nostalgic age, can the game stand on its own in the current gaming climate? The Japanese title finally comes home to the west and it is quite a ride…for better or worse. Read on to see what it is all about.
The premise of Metal Wolf Chaos XD is simple. You are the president of the United States and have access to a mech suit. One thing leads to another and freedom is overthrown by the Vice President, who then assumes power and enacts martial law. He starts cutting off freedoms, essentially turning the United States into a police/dictator state. In your presidential mech suit, you escape the white house and go on to try and liberate America, one state at a time. Overblown Americana and patriotism at its best, it is a cartoonish look at the United States, political troubles, and American spirit. These ideals are poked fun at, but in a respectful and playful manner. Simple plot, but given the gratuitous nature of the game, that is really all that the player needs in order to carry out the objectives.
The game takes place inside of the POTUS mech suit exclusively with no on foot sections. Controls are fairly simple when piloting: triggers act as firing the left and right guns respectively, boost is handled by L3 or X, A is jump. Pressing B lets you cycle through guns to choose something different from the stock. Depending on the setup that the player runs, up to four guns can be held on each side of the mech. The controls can sometimes be clunky during times of hard action, but they get the job done in terms of piloting your mech. This is no Armored Core title, but it is not supposed to be. Between missions, which are selected on a United States map showing your progress, the player can use money and resources earned to create and upgrade weapons. One of the shining features is the weapon customization, given the sheer quantity of choices the gamer has access to. Many different classes ranging from machine guns, pistols, missile launchers, flamethrowers and many more. This system must be used as progression is made as the game can get difficult in the later stages. If the mech is not properly “kitted-out”, failure is almost certain.
The graphics, when looked at through the filter of 2004, when the title was originally released in Japan, are decent but nothing special. The destruction is very well done and things are clear enough to get the point across. It is not going to win any awards for presentation, as the textures and sounds are not exactly re-mastered for this release. General Arcade simply cleaned up, and made appropriate changes for current HD TVs. The textures are still the same as they were originally, just up-scaled. The menus have been redone in their entirety but in the exact style of the original, to make them easier to read and less blurry then they would have been. That is really it in terms of changes to the game, and all in all, this is a standard port in many ways of the original release. This proves to be a good decision as some of the off- the-wall humor and ridiculous charm would be lost in a complete conversion. Leaving the styling a little bit janky was definitely the way to go with the title.
The sound falters quite a bit, however, which was also altered somewhat for Metal Wolf Chaos XD. Audio files were cleaned up for modern era speakers, but the original voice acting track was left intact. While there is nothing wrong with the awful voice acting (think House of the Dead style), it is the way that all the sounds were mixed that becomes a problem. Explosions are too loud and the cutscene volume varies so much that it is impossible to find a good setting on your speakers. The player better have that remote handy to raise or lower as needed. Sounds get cut off by other sounds, there is crackling in the audio, and sometimes audio does not load in correctly on one playthrough then works perfectly in the next. This was the worst and most jarring part of the whole experience. The game is not great by any means, but this was a little too far to handle and took me right out of the atmosphere in an otherwise super fun game.
Doing a full playthrough, Metal Wolf Chaos XD can be a little repetitive in the mission structure, because despite what the objectives are, they all boil down to going to different areas and destroying the targets. Sometimes you are attacked by smaller enemies, sometimes a boss is chasing you around the stage, other times there is platforming to be had to reach the destruction areas. The game feels budget in this regard, as does the game as a whole. The over the top and frankly terrible voice acting is an aspect that I loved with Metal Wolf Chaos XD. The theming here fits perfectly with cheesy arcade game style and B-movies of the era. The closest approximation of the style I can think of is the Earth Defense Force series. B-movie to the core and obviously inspired by Starship Troopers, it has a good heart and is a great deal of fun to play. Metal Wolf Chaos XD follows this mold, more or less, but is not as polished as EDF, and that says something about the presentation as a whole.
In the end I really did enjoy my time with the game quite a bunch. Destruction is fun, missions are great, as is the absurd story. Weapon upgrading and customization was nice, but the sound issues really drug the experience through the mud. Maybe there is a patch coming to spruce up the sound design? As it stands the audio mixing is pretty trash. The game does not overstay its welcome and it is nice to finally be able to play the cult classic on a modern console. Go in expecting the bad and you will walk away with a big dumb grin on your face and having a blast. The game is worth your time if you are into this sort of thing, especially at the budget price. It is hard to call it a good game, but I will call it an instant classic. I would say play the game and the reason is…I’m the president of the United States!
Review code Provided by Devolver Digital