Terrorism has been a hard subject to tread recently, in light of recent events. Many developers shy away from the subject for fear of possible backlash. From Software takes this subject, with a lighthearted and almost satirical flavor.
"Just another day at the office, huh Mr. President?"
The United States government has fallen to a coup d’état in the year 2040. The last hope for the United States of America rests in the hands of one person: The 47th President of The united States. Piloting an experimental mechanized weapon, code named, appropriately enough, "Metal Wolf", The President will single-handedly take back the United Stated from the Terrorists.
"Mr.President, We've got company!"
The gameplay in Metal wolf Chaos is familiar to anyone who has played The Armored Core Series mission segments. Players take control of the Metal Wolf and make their way through various locales completing various objectives and collecting items and exploring the terrain. Some of these objectives are very straightfoward, such as making your way to a certain point and destroying a certain structure/enemy to rescue/protect missions. One such objective pits the Metal Wolf against a horde of enemies intent on destroying Air Force One. You must protect Air Force One until it is ready for takeoff.
Controls are easy enough to get in to, and familiar to anyone who has played Armored Core or any first person shooter on a dual analog setup before. The left analog stick controls the lateral (strafing) motion of the Metal Wolf, while the right analog stick is used for aiming. The A button is used for jumping, X is boost, Y is crash. The L and R buttons fire the left anf right shoulder weapons. Switching weapons is accomplished by pressing the B button, then Pressing L and R to cycle through available weaponry for each shoulder. Pressing B again completes the selection. This is all done on the fly. Each shoulder is capable of holding 4 different weapons initially, however some weapons, such as the sniper rifle, will use one slot on each arm..
Borrowing a page from Otogi, health is managed in similar fashion. The Metal Wolf has a limited stock of "hit points" with a rechargeable shield. Getting hit will degenerate your shield, but lack of damage will restore the shield. If the bar is damaged enough and is completely depleted, 1 life stock is lost. Boosting while getting a good speed boost, must be used carefully. After the initial boost meter is depleted, your shields will start to diminish, and heavy boosting in a large firefight can quickly turn deadly for the Metal Wolf.
Weapons are purchsed through the garage using points gained from the previous missions. Points are awarded for destruction, chains and clear time. The better you do in all categories, the more points awarded at the end of each stage. Missions are repeatable for those wanting to stock up on points for that difficult mission that may lie ahead.
"How's the view, Mr.President?"
Graphically, Metal Wolf Chaos is very impressive. Using the engine powering the Otogi games, just about everything is destructible, resulting in fires, explosions and sparks flying about the screen, with nary a hint of slowdown. The framerate remains steady throughout most of the game, only dipping very seldom on the most extreme explosions. It is not very noticeable, however. Everything is animated very well, with even the smallest foot soldiers receiving plenty of animation and variety. The Metal Wolf model however is of particular note. In almost comic book fashion, switching weapons will open the shoulder packs, bringing forth a spew of weapons, rotating as you choose them, the folding neatly back up in the shoulder packs as Metal Wolf continues his path of destruction.
The environments are very detailed as well. The first level takes place right on the white house grounds, and while some liberties have been taken as to design aesthetics, a player can easily tell the locale being presented to them. Dashing through the Lincoln memorial, avoiding choppers, or tearing through the streets of Chinatown in San Francisco, each location is varied enough to keep the game fresh and inviting.
"You guys are roast chicken!
The voice acting is Metal Wolf Chaos is different. Everyone seems over the top, and the President is laced with One liners such as "Bingo" and "Let's Party!". Some, expecting a more serious mecha game, may be put off by the cheesy dialogue , but some may laugh right beside it. It adds to the overall lighthearted atmosphere of the game. Most enemies make suitable cries of pain when struck and Explosions are deep and convincing, and really gets you into the chaos you are creating in the environments.
Opting for a more rock themed soundtrack, Most of the music is well done, but there is not much that will really stand out among the soundtrack. Fortunately, for those who may get tired of the soundtrack or those who hate this type of music completely, Metal Wolf Chaos offers a custom soundtrack option, something not enough Xbox games offer, and seeing it in a title like this is a very welcome addition.
"I don't think that will help your re-election campaign, Mr. President"
There are a few downsides to Metal Wolf Chaos. One of the biggest drawbacks is the weapon switching, as nice as it looks, having all those weapons sprawled out on the screen can sometimes obscure the view of the action on the screen. An uncaught missile or hazard can quickly drain your health . This issue becomes less of a problem later on, as once you learn your own weapon configurations, players will be able to switch fairly quickly, and not miss a beat.
Weapon switching will not allow you to choose only one weapon. It is not possible to switch the right weapon while still covering yourself with the left weapon. Movement is still possible however, so players will not be stuck there while they switch.
The effects, while being very well done, can sometimes obscure the view of the action, especially in close/closed quarters. Explosions and effects dissipate fairly quickly however, but the issue is still there.
"You've got my vote, Mr.President"
Gamers have been hoping that the Armored Core series would make it to the Xbox eventually. While Metal Wolf Chaos is no Armored Core, it is a fine example of mech action that does not take itself too seriously, and in this genre that is a breath of fresh air. After the promising but ultimately disappointing Murakumo, Xbox owners have a great mecha game to treat their console to.