Metal Wolf Chaos is dumb and wears it proudly on its sleeve. Developed by the now critically acclaimed developer, From Software, Metal Wolf Chaos provides a glimpse at their earlier days. Simply put, the game is like an Armored Core spin-off with a wacky B-grade Americentric plotline and corny dialogue that quickly falls under the “so bad it’s good” category. The story takes a lighthearted tone and is generally pretty shallow when it comes to depicting the United States. As the game was originally released in Japan back in 2004, Metal Wolf Chaos definitely feels like a product of its time.
Metal Wolf Chaos is absurdly American. It stars the 47th president, Michael Wilson, fighting his vice president, Richard Hawk, for the soul of Americans. The characters are comical and the shallow story plays out in a very straightforward manner. Wilson saves United Stares from the mentally deranged vice president using his mecha, Metal Wolf. As the game progresses, the story gets more and more ridiculous that makes for a stupidly fun experience.
The game runs rather smoothly, though it’s unfortunately capped at 30fps. Combat is simple and straightforward but engaging. The mecha controls well for the most part but switching weapons, though looking cool, is notably cumbersome as the mecha has to get into a weapon changing mode before armament can be swapped. This definitely appears to be a case of style over substance as a far more intuitive approach would have allowed for changing weapons on the fly.
The game is segmented into various levels across the United States. From San Francisco to New York, Metal Wolf Chaos provides a janky road trip through a troubled nation. Admittedly, the act of destroying is always top priority but often, the targets themselves spice up the levels. For example, a death cannon slowly charges up and once it’s fully functional, it will be a game over, making the level more hectic than it otherwise would be.
Biggest issues with the game are the level design and numerous glitches. Levels often feel poorly planned; either their objectives require a few retries before you get a hang of them or they are too easy. Beyond that, hunting down all the targets in a level quickly gets tiresome and irritating, especially when they are hidden. Most failures come simply from a lack of information, while others are caused by impossible win conditions due to glitchy AI or unfortunate crashes. Unreliable technical performance is made worse by a lack of checkpoints. Luckily, some levels can be easily rushed past.
As far as game mechanics go, Metal Wolf Chaos XD is a fun mech romp littered with annoying design decisions that hinder the overall experience. However, if you take the time to look past the glaring issues, you’ll find a strong selection of weapons, enjoyable albeit shallow gameplay, and a simple, yet addictive feedback loop. Metal Wolf has eight weapon slots, providing a strong degree of freedom. Admittedly, the lack of weapon loadouts makes adjusting weaponry much less convenient.
The game definitely falls in line with budget titles that came out 15 years ago. The character animations during dialogue sequences seem uncanny or just plain robotic. The audio mixing is a huge mess. Sometimes, the gameplay sounds too quiet while cutscenes fill the room with cheesy news reporting. As this is the “remastered” version, you would expect these issues to be easily ironed out, but there hasn’t been any effort to fix them.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD is definitely a game that will appeal to fans of quirky, kooky comedy. It’s a janky budget title that lacks polish in level design and game mechanics, but makes up for it in the weirdness. The American setting is used effectively as a backdrop, but the generic nature of the politics leaves a lot to be desired. The entertaining yet repetitive gameplay occasionally gets frustrating, but it’s more like a battle of endurance than a battle of skill. Overall, Metal Wolf Chaos is a game worth playing for those that are looking for something different and are willing to put up with some nonsense along the way.