METAL WOLF CHAOS XD / DEVELOPER: FROMSOFTWARE, GENERAL ARCADE / PUBLISHER: DEVOLVER DIGITAL / PLATFORM: PC, PS4, XBOX ONE (REVIEWED) / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
When the original Xbox didn't perform as well as expected upon its Japanese release in 2002, Microsoft needed something special to convince people to invest in the console. FromSoftware had found success in the region with their PlayStation-exclusive mecha combat Armored Core games (although these days they're probably more recognisable for the Dark Souls series), and a deal was done that would see FromSoftware develop a new original mech title exclusively for the Xbox.
Aimed at a Japanese audience but made with intentions of a worldwide release, 2004's Metal Wolf Chaos sees fictional US President Michael Wilson piloting a giant military-engineered mech as he fights back against a coup d'etat headed by his Vice President, Richard Hawk. The intended international release didn't occur, and the game became the stuff of legend, notorious for its insane storyline and bombastic action but only accessible to those willing to spend ridiculous amounts of money on the second-hand market. Fifteen years later, Metal Wolf Chaos XD has arrived on current-gen consoles and, in a refreshing change as far as re-releases go, it's mostly unaltered from its original incarnation. There's been a bit of audio / visual tinkering for the sake of compatibility with modern-day TV sets, but the game itself is exactly the same as it was 15 years ago.
The game's 14 stages are set in various iconic locations across the USA, and all focus on one thing – destruction. Each mission tasks players with destroying specific buildings or taking down giant boss mechs, occasionally within a fairly restrictive time limit just to increase the tension. Making things even trickier is the fact that the army are out to get you (nobody realises that the good-guy President is piloting the suit), so there are all manner of tanks, helicopters and soldiers to deal with along the way. Fortunately, up to eight weapons can be packed into the Metal Wolf's giant shoulders, and there are around 100 weapons available overall, giving plenty of options for fighting your way through the streets.
As well as blowing up your targets in each mission, there are various collectables that add armour upgrades to your suit and unlock new weapons, and points are awarded at the end of each stage that can be spent on adding even more guns to your arsenal. Missions can be replayed at any time, and you might find there's a certain amount of grinding to be done, as obtaining the game's most powerful weapons is almost a necessity to tackle the last few levels. Finishing the campaign unlocks a couple of new options where missions can be replayed with either infinite ammo (just for fun) or in “Hell” mode, which offers a more challenging difficulty level but allows players to collect new armour skins and some rather ridiculous (yet completely amazing) weapons. The shotgun that shoots confetti and cash is a particular favourite,as well as the machine gun that fires waves of arrows!
The whole point of Metal Wolf Chaos was for it to be an attention-grabbing over-the-top ultra-patriotic B-movie in videogame form, and that's exactly what you get. The audio levels here are a little all over the place, and we encountered a few crashes which can hopefully be ironed out soon enough, but other than that, we've been having a fantastic time. Worth waiting 15 years for? Yeah, definitely.