Developer: From Software/General Arcade | Publisher: Devolver Digital| Release date: August 06, 2019 | Genre: Action/Adventure | Reviewed On: PlayStation 4 Pro
Review Code Provided By Devolver Digital
From Software has a long history that started back in 1986. They have developed such classic series as Dark Souls, Armored Core, and have recently released Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. They started doing productivity software and then released King’s Field for the PlayStation in 1994. One of their niche titles is Metal Wolf Chaos. It was released only in Japan on XBOX on December 22, 2004. Since it didn’t sell well it goes for a high price on the collector’s market. Thanks to Devolver Digital and port house General Arcade, we now have a remaster with the XD subtitle available. How does the game fair in 2019? Let’s find out.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD is a mecha action game similar to From’s Armored Core games. One of the major differences is that the customization is simplified into upgrading weapons and finding power cores to increase your hit points. The usual mission goals are to destroy all enemies, defuse bombs by shooting them(?), destroy bosses, or rescue hostages. It is our typical third-person shooter fair, but you do also have access to a dash ability which gives you some vertical/options when fighting the various enemies in the game. Using a dash while in midair allows you to use a pound to destroy weaker enemies in one hit. Consecutive kills (which are hilariously described as KOs) will result in a chain that increases your score. Your enemies vary from grunts, real military vehicles, cyborgs and the Vice President, Richard Hawke. You fight in varying locations from San Francisco’s Chinatown to a Space Station. Each level has some sort of environmental hazards such as pitfalls or the rolling hills of San Francisco as cover.
You have access to hundreds of weapons in the game. They start from enlarged size replicas of real firearms such as M-16 and Stinger Missiles to powerful Miniguns and Rail guns. These can be unlocked by the money and rare metals you are rewarded with at the end of each mission. You can find extra rare metals by exploring and getting a better score in each mission. Money is used for upgrading weapon types while rare metal lets you develop them. It’s an overall enjoyable experience, but more modern players may not like the sluggish aiming that is the hallmark of games like Armored Core. Another issue with the game is the weapon selection interface which is a bit slow. This can get you killed amid intense combat situations
An improvement from the original is the save system. In the Xbox original you could only save after the end of each mission manually. In XD, the game autosaves whenever you change a configuration to your mech or complete a mission if you forget. This helps with some of the frustration you get in some of the levels which can get a bit difficult.
In Metal Wolf Chaos, you play as Michael Wilson, the former president of the United States. His authority was taken away in a coup by Vice President Richard Hawk. Your mission is to reclaim your rightful role as President of the United States because… you are the President! The game starts with Wilson busting out of the White House with a mech and yelling: “Let’s Party!” with some of the most wooden voice acting seen in the mid-2000s. I love it. The Japanese perception of the US is in full force with speeches about freedom, Phoenix being depicted as an Old West town straight out of Gun, and giant Mansions in Beverly Hills.
This game came around the time of the second Iraq War in a Post 9/11 world where American patriotism was at an all-time high. It in itself is a time capsule, an absurdly entertaining time capsule. The story has you and your presidential staff (which includes secretary, Jody Crawford) traveling around the US to take down Hawke’s fascist intentions. You join up with a resistance group who is only voiced as you take the fight to Vice President Hawke. Cut scenes are usually done in a satirized cable news channel were its bias swing towards Hawke. It always brands you as a terrorist threat that must be stopped, but the reporter does have reservations in his text journals. You are also briefed by Jody who comes up with hilarious code names for your missions.
The absurdity of the story gives the game its charm. What could’ve been played straight is a fun parody which does help with the ludo-narrative dissonance you see in most action games. The corny acting also helps with the humor.
Graphics and Presentation
Wolf Metal Chaos was originally an Xbox exclusive and is capped at 30 FPS. The HD Remaster itself is pretty bare-bones with widescreen support and some touch up with the textures. I do wish the option for 60FPS was available, but due to how the animation works, General Arcade wasn’t able to. A fine concession since it runs without any slowdown. The audio does seem a bit muffled in terms of the voice over but the explosions are bassy. Music is great if not slightly out of place but it’s a mix of punk, jazz, and metal that you would probably listen to outside the game. The music was done by Kota Yoshino AKA FreQuency who also worked on other From Software titles such as Armored Core and Echo Night.
The mecha designs are great and something you’d expect from the Armored Core team. The models for soldiers do feel a bit generic as they have the same faces, but everything else is solid for an OG Xbox title. The backgrounds also might be a bit visually repetitive but thanks to the short level length you won’t notice it.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD is a game worth your time if you’re into mech games, shooters, or humorous cheese. It’s also available at a bargain price at $24.99 with a good length of 10-12 hours of varied level design and ridiculous one-liners. The few flaws such as a slow weapon select, audio issues, and aiming might be a turn off for some, but it is a solid game overall.
Rating 8/10 Freedoms!