Caution Minor Spoilers
Grab your “own justice” in one hand and unwavering patriotism in the other, Metal Wolf Chaos XD is now on modern platforms! Up until this time, Metal Wolf Chaos, a third-person shooter with over-the-top dialogue and story, was previously only available on Xbox within Japan. Despite a limited availability, many individuals imported and loved this game making it a gaming cult classic.
Originally developed by FromSoftware in 2004, they have teamed up with Devolver Digital and General Arcade to bring this gem to western audiences for the first time. Rebranded as Metal Wolf Chaos XD, it is now available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
The gameplay premise is simple. Prepare your mech in between each stage by utilizing acquired funds to develop new weaponry. Afterwards, you can customize your mech with between 4 and 8 weapons from your collection and head into battle to subvert the rebel military forces. After each mission is complete, you’ll utilize resources to upgrade, and then head into battle to do it again, because you are the President of the United States!
There is a variety of traditional mech-based weaponry to choose from in Metal Wolf Chaos XD. They include, handguns, shotguns, machine guns, assault rifles, bazookas, missile launchers, grenade launchers, sniper cannons, rail guns, multi-missile launchers, and flamethrowers. To use many of these weapons, you will need to spend the capital to invest in their development and then purchase them with a combination of money and materials. Some weapons however, can be unlocked as a normal course of playing through the game by meeting certain conditions.
In each stage, one outlying mission objective will always take precedence. But in almost every stage, complications arise which either force you to move with greater efficacy, or to take out certain dangerous targets prohibiting you from completing your objective. Buildings, containers, and other objects that are destructible within the game hide ammunition and temporary stat boosts to aid you, but spending too much time on them may compromise your ability to win in certain situations.
Suck on my missile punch!Michael in a phony video leading to his demise
Also hidden within each stage are rare materials, POWs who need rescue, energy pods, and additional metals and capital. The POWs will unlock various aspects of the game such economy or rare metal boosts or musicians who unlock sound files. Collect enough energy pods and you will increase your maximum health which is represented by a green gem or square on your overlay panel.
Combat in Metal Wold Chaos XD is of course the fun part, especially once you get the hang of it. Like all mech games, there’s a certain degree of awkwardness when piloting initially. This game is no exception but I found movement to be smooth and easy. The difficult part, and what will separate the clumsy from the adept, will be mastering your own weapon rotation and positioning.
Enemies range from common ground forces to armored vehicles. Many special units-and bosses- include other armored mobile units like yourself, bombers, assault aircraft, and Goliath-sized tanks. In almost every stage however, you will be required to take down bases and towers which serve as headquarters and reinforcing centers for the enemy.
After each stage is concluded you will be ranked on your performance. The grades include:
- K.O. Points – what type and how many enemies you destroy
- Damage – How much damage you cause, and how little you take
- Rush Combo – how quickly you defeat an enemy after initiating combat
- Chain combos – how many enemies you can kill in a streak without being interrupted by a lapse
Your score is directly tied to your currency and material rewards so a good performance is preferable.
In terms of improvement over the previous iteration, Metal Wolf Chaos XD brings new visuals, improved controls, a revamped save system, and new 4K-16:9 aspect ratio support. The vast majority of the game remains intact however, which is a good thing for those who never played it due to the limited regional release. For those who want to keep playing after the story is over, a new game plus mode awaits you at the end of the journey.
Oh no, Mr. President! America is under attack via a military coup by its Vice President Richard Hawk. The president, Michael Wilson, must lead a revolt against his former running mate using extreme force and prejudice. Aided by his secretary Jody, Wilson, armed in the mobile armor Metal Wolf must fight old colleagues and his own military to restore his own brand of justice.
Nothing is pointless! And the reason is, because I’m the President of the great United States of America!Michael on more than one occasion…
If this sounds like a bad 80s movie it’s because it absolutely is. The story is filled with bad quotes and one liners that are sure to make you cringe more than once. Therein also lies the greatest charm of Metal Wolf Chaos XD. We’ve all enjoyed a good-bad movie and this game epitomizes that.
Outside of the main story-line, there are really no side-quests to speak of that have relevance to the narrative. There are secrets with backgrounds to them, but they have no effect on the overall arc of Metal Wolf’s attempt to regain his presidential throne. While playing through the game, you will also have a degree of character development and revelation, but it’s not much.
Note: Played on PS4 using a native controller
The controls are where the action is and Metal Wolf Chaos XD fleshed them out nicely. Movement is smooth with only a few exceptions. The weapon rotation worked well and after a few hours practice, it became natural to switch weapons in between air dashes and while dodging. This is where your grading success is determined however, and getting use to assigning your weapons in an order that makes sense to you is imperative.
With up to 4 weapons on each shoulder, you can either pair weapons that work well in tandem or keep high explosives on one arm with a gun in the other. The choice is yours but know that some weapons such as flamethrowers and rail guns require both hands but offer superior damage in the right conditions. Once you are able to rotate each arm efficiently and independently, the game becomes much easier.
Evasion is the other part of “gitting gud” in Metal Wolf Chaos XD. Dashing on the ground can be necessary at times but is horribly inefficient. It can be used as a weapon against smaller enemies though, which balances that action out. To be as fast as possible, air dashing is the way to go and offers you a way to makeshift fly from one destination to another within limitations. This is performed by feathering the dash button rather than holding it while in midair.
Once you gain mastery over the controls Metal Wolf Chaos really becomes a different game as your grading is intrinsically determined by your efficacy of movement, weapon switching, and bring the right gun to the right fight. You won’t be able to master stages right from the beginning of the game. It will require unlocking weapons, and utilizing those weapons with optimal control which I feel makes the game more fun. You can beat stages with the bare minimum, but getting high ratings is another beast entirely.
The camera mechanics are standard for a third person title and allow for a full 360 degree perspective. Camera movement felt natural in all functions and it never inhibited my game performance in the least. During many events the game will take control of the camera to focus on the scene and then return control to you promptly afterwards. You do need to be aware of environmental hazards such as pits and mine placement while each scene occurs to avoid awkward deaths once you regain control.
The graphics were great for 2004 and find them to work just fine here. As it is roughly 15 years old, is has a few aspects that will annoy select people. Overall though, I found the game to graphically import itself smoothly into 2019.
I always make the impossible…possible! And I’m going to keep on doing so!Michael
There are of course reservations on a few notes. While the enemy attacks in the game are graphically well telegraphed and look great, many of Metal Wolf’s attacks are small and lack a certain visual punch. Weapons like the rail gun and many explosives have conflicts with how weapons of these types traditionally look and perform. This really didn’t have an effect on how the game played, but it did give an uninspired feeling from time to time in the look and feel department.
A very noticeable issue was the volume leveling of the game itself. The news related cut scenes were exceptionally loud compared the to the rest of the game. This practically forced me to change the volume back and forth during gameplay every time a related scene started and stopped. In-game sound effects, particularly with the guns themselves were unpronounced and lacked punch. This is disappointing since many mech-based games (Armored Core, Gundam, and various mech RPGs)during that era, and even the previous generation, had very high quality sounds that made you feel like you were in a mech.
Voice acting in Metal Wolf Chaos XD however was another story. The campiness and pure absurdity of the dialogue is one of those things that is simply unique unto itself. There are times when you’ll cringe, laugh, and roll your eyes, but it has a very inherent satirical charm that we need more of every now and then to remind us not to take things so seriously.
The sound effects themselves were okay, but many lacked impact and simply did not perform well. For a game that surrounds you with explosive ordinance, those sounds should be well pronounced and so should any weapon you’ll be shooting for 20+ hours. Ultimately, a little care in this department would have rounded the game off well. Additionally, a bug I encountered dampened the sound several times in the middle of gameplay only to stay that way for the remainder of the mission.
The music is actually all over the place. The OST was composed by Kota Hoshino, primarily known for his work in the Armored Core series, and ranges from inspirational to thrashy grunge to jazz. Many of these genres and tracks are very indicative of the era when it comes to Japanese-developed games. And while the tracks themselves are well composed, although some synthesized components like percussion were a little too flat.
Metal Wolf Chaos is a great trip down the comedic fast lane of nostalgia highway. It can be fun and refreshing to play a game with aspects that you actually have to work for and not pay additional money for. It can also be great to jump into something that doesn’t take itself seriously, but instead lends a satirical gaze into the world.
If Metal Wolf Chaos XD reminds me of one thing, it’s that games can be fun, simple, and challenging all at the same time. It’s not perfect, but I think that somewhere buried in our plot line, lies that allegorical truth, that things aren’t perfect and sometimes all you can do is laugh. And you don’t need a season pass to enjoy the full ride, because that would be unpatriotic, and you are the gamers of the great United States of America! Now suit up, and mech America great again!