October 28, 2018

PAX Australia 2018 - Hands On with Metal Wolf Chaos XD

Devolver Digital are a publisher that I can love and hate, some of the games they release are some of the most charming and wonderful gaming experiences I have had over the past few years, some though are not. Heading into PAX Australia 2018, I had time booked with one game from them, Metal Wolf Chaos XD and that was purely, because I had no idea what it was about.

If the name Metal Wolf Chaos sounds familiar to you, the game was created back in 2004 by FromSoftware, the creators now of the Dark Souls series. The game was made for Xbox and only released in Japan, meaning while it developed a bit of a cult following, it never saw main stream release in the west, until now. The studio that is behind the remastering of the title is General Arcade, based out of Singapore they are known as a porting house, but this makes their first real effort at remastering a game. If you are concerned that the game will lose the FromSoftware touch, worry not as Masanori Takeuchi, the producer of the original game and countless other titles, is working with the studio to ensure the game makes its transition to the HD era, complete and true to the spirit of the original.

At PAX Australia, Gennadii Potapov, the CEO of General Arcade was on hand to show off the game and whilst I played it he explained what was happening. You are Michael Wilson, President of the United States and whilst he is in charge, the country has plunged into a state of civil unrest, with the military launching a coup d’├ętat. The leader of the rebellion is the vice president who uses the news to make it look like Wilson is failing, using this fake news, he manages to take over various parts of the government, before making his move on the White House. Wilson, realising that he is one of the last bastions of hope, jumps into his giant mech suit, that was built in secret and busts out of the White House and begins to take back the country.

The gameplay is a little different from the Armored Core series, also developed by FromSoftware, as the game is a lot more forgiving, you have two weapons, jumping, dashing and the ability to hover, when you combine them all, you can become a literal one-man army. Each trigger fires the gun on the same side of your mech suit, pressing the B button opens up a menu, allowing you to cycle through each of the guns available. Some guns are more suitable for some missions than other, for example, the revolver is not really great when facing large amounts of soldiers, the bazooka though, works great against helicopters.

The first of the two missions I got to play had me attempting to break away from the Military as they were swarming towards the White House, at first its just a matter of taking down some waves of soldiers, who are all on foot, but soon the helicopters arrive and when you start combining them, unless you are prepared you can take some serious damage. Thankfully, I was ok here and soon the path opened, or should I say the giant mech sized door rose from the ground and I was able to enter the base, though there was a change once I got into the smaller space, with tighter corridors to contend with, it required a change of approach, but eventually those corridors opened into a large hangar, where Air Force One was waiting and after making sure the plane was not destroyed, on I got and blasted off.

The second mission was quite a bit different, large open canyons were the order of the day and whilst the pathways were narrow, attacks were coming from everyone. The mission had a side objective, rescue some hostages, which you did by blasting open their cages, but getting to some of them proved to be a challenge. The main mission was to destroy a host of anti-aircraft weapons that were stationed throughout the canyon, these were all over the place and required some platforming to get around to them, however Gennadii pointed out that the structures they were resting upon were just as vulnerable to my bazooka as the turrets themselves and they took less hits to collapse.

While FromSoftware are known now for their punishing difficulty, the core gameplay here does fall to the easier side of things, but the game is not without its challenge, as there are no checkpoints in the game, so should you die, metres from the end of a level, you will have to re-do it all over again. Talks are taking place, between the studios, to see if they can add them and tweak the game in other ways, but there was no confirmation given here. One element that Genndaii wanted to emphasise is that the visuals, while doing the whole 4K/HD thing, will still retain the look of the original game, so no modern take on the textures, just a bump up. The game will have full English and Japanese voice work, because the original had English text throughout, so players will be able to choose whichever experience they want.

Whilst there is no set date for the game yet, an early 2019 release is planned, with the game coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, those hoping for a Switch release might not want to hold their breath as there are currently no plans for that to happen. Metal Wolf Chaos XD is honestly a game that I could have easily overlooked, but having had the chance to play it, I am excited to play it again.

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