Review: Metal Wolf Chaos XD : All the President’s Mechs
Did you ever play an entry in the Metal Gear Solid series and think “this political commentary is too subtle” or “this plotline isn’t crazy enough” or even “why isn’t the president in a mech?”. Well look no further than Metal Wolf Chaos XD, a remaster of FromSoftware’s 2004 cult classic third-person shooter. Originally released exclusively in Japan on the Xbox, it sold poorly and never made it to the rest of the world. But now, with the help of Devolver Digital and General Arcade, the rest of the world now gets to experience one of the most over-the-top third-person shooters possibly ever made.
As mentioned before, Metal Wolf Chaos XD is a third-person shooter developed by FromSoftware, better known for developing games like the Armored Core and Dark Souls series, as well as Bloodborne and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Set in 2025, you play as Michael Wilson, 47th President of the United States and fictional descendant of Woodrow Wilson, as he uses a top-secret mech suit to take back the US from a coup led by his Vice President Richard Hawk. If the premise alone isn’t crazy enough, then the cutscenes and dialogue certainly are, with such memorable lines as “You’re as sweet as gulping a cup of condensed milk” and “Metal Wolf won’t even leave us time to make instant noodles”, and perhaps the famous line, “Okay, Let’s PARRRTTTYYY!” I can’t count how many times Wilson explains a decision by saying “…because I’m the President of the United States of America!” or words to that effect. The dialogue is so ridiculously cheesy and over the top that I found myself in tears from laughter.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD may put you in a mech, but it does away with much of the complexities that most mech games are known for, and instead plays similarly to a basic third-person shooter. Your mech can hold eight weapons during a mission, and you can have two equipped at once, excluding flamethrowers, sniper rifles, railguns, and multimissile launchers. You have a boost that gives you a burst of speed allowing you to quickly move through levels and strafe around enemies. The boost is a great mechanic, and flying around levels while blowing enemies into smithereens feels smooth as butter. This boost can also be used to fly, as when it’s activated in mid air your mech will stay airborne until you stop boosting, allowing you to access elevated areas. However, you are limited by the boost meter, which depletes as you use your boost. You can continue to boost once your meter is depleted, but this will slowly drain your shields, causing your mech to overheat. If you stop boosting while the mech is overheating, you’ll be unable to boost until your shields fully recharge, meaning you can’t just fly around willy-nilly or you’ll end up a sitting duck. Your mech’s health bar is separated into several shield units, which are permanently lost if they are fully depleted. A partially depleted shield unit will slowly recharge, and you can find additional shield units through levels in order to refill ones you have lost. Finally, you have the burst meter, which once filled up allows you to use your blaze attack, a massive onslaught that involves firing all of your weapons at once, which can reduce even minibosses into heaps of slag. You fill this meter by defeating enemies, with certain weapons allowing you to fill your meter faster than other weapons.
One of my favorite parts of Metal Wolf Chaos XD is the incredible variety of weaponry available to the President. You’ve got access to several different weapon categories, including machine guns, pistols, shotguns, bazookas, missile launchers, multi-missile launchers, grenade launchers, sniper rifles, railguns, and flamethrowers. At the end of every level you gain money and rare metals based off your performance in the level. You can then use this to invest in the various weapon categories, which lets you develop new versions of currently owned weapons as well as entirely new weapons. You then need to pay to unlock the the new weapons you’ve developed. For instance, you start off with a simple MP7 for a machine gun, but as you invest you’ll unlock an M134 minigun, and eventually the GG-RH, which is basically a minigun with that has four sets of six-rotating barrels, letting you saturate the area in front of you with lead. These weapons make you feel like a total badass, as you spray down squads of soldiers with your 24-barrel minigun while you turn tanks into scrap with your quad-barrel rocket launcher. Every weapon has a reticle of a different size, which makes them better suited for certain situations, with wider reticles better for taking out infantry and intercepting projectiles, and smaller reticles better for precision targeting.
Wreak havoc over fourteen levels in Metal Wolf Chaos XD set across the United States and beyond. These include Chicago, New York, Miami, Las Vegas and even a Space Station. The majority of these levels are incredibly large and usually have you destroying a number of target areas, defeating a boss, or destroying a number of target areas AND defeating a boss. This may sound like it gets repetitive, but with as fun as the gameplay is and with the huge variety of weapons, it never gets old. Each level also has a number of collectibles, including energy pods, hostages, and weapons, as well other collectibles which only become accessible once you beat the game for the first time. Thankfully there are actual gameplay reasons for finding these collectibles. Collecting five energy pods will give you an additional shield unit and increase the size of your boost and burst meters; rescuing hostages will permanently increase the amount of money and rare metals you receive by a certain percent on the level you rescued them from, as well as unlocking music tracks; and weapons will automatically unlock a weapon for you, without the need to spend money to develop and manufacture that weapon. This means that there’s plenty of incentive for the player to go back and play levels multiple times in order to find all the collectibles and fully upgrade their character. However, the size of the levels can make them hard to navigate, with levels like Chicago becoming tiresome to navigate after awhile.
After you finish the game for the first time, you unlock New Game +, which allows you to bring all your weapons and upgrades from previous playthroughs to the next. This isn’t as immediately obvious as in other games, where the main menu will now include a New Game + option. Instead, when you load up a Save File that you’ve beat the game on, you will now be greeted with additional game modes and other treats. First off, when selecting Start for a mission, you now have the option to choose either Regular, Fever, or Hell. Fever gives you unlimited ammo for all weapons, while Hell gives all enemies 50% more health while also dealing 50% more damage. Besides achievements for beating the game on Hell, there are other incentives. For every mission you beat in Hell mode you unlock a new skin for your suit, with styles including the US flag, desert camo, as well as a pinstripe pattern. This adds even more replay value to the game, as Hell mode gives you an opportunity to use all of your late game weapons on more imposing foes.
Up to this point, this review has primarily looked at Metal Wolf Chaos XD as a new game, but this is a remaster of game from 2004, and it shows. The graphics haven’t been overhauled at all, with the only differences being the inclusion of support for 4k 16:9 displays. There have apparently been improvements to the controls, but since I’ve never played the original I can’t tell you if they were better or not. There are also some issues with the audio where some cutscenes can barely be heard while others are truly deafening. This may put some people off, but it doesn’t for me. They could have just not remastered it at all, and we would never have had this new chance to play this cult masterpiece.
One of the best parts of Metal Wolf Chaos XD is its price–it’s only $25. You’re paying less than half the price of a AAA title for a game that lets you blast apart giant robotic walkers as the President of the United States in a mech, while holding grenade launchers and assault rifles the size of cars. What’s not to love? In fact, I’ve had more fun with Metal Wolf Chaos XD than I’ve had with plenty of other triple-A titles. The amazing gameplay, combined with the amount of replayablity created by the numbers of collectibles and game modes means that you get your money’s worth – and then some – when it comes to content and when it comes to fun. Besides, is there another game that lets you fight the Vice-President of the United States as the President of the United States, with both of you in mech suits? No? I didn’t think so.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD is available now on Steam, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
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