Metal Wolf Chaos XD's absurd premise of the President and his mech suit saving America fuels a hilarious story hampered by dated gameplay.
In perhaps the greatest opening scene in video games, Metal Wolf Chaos XD begins with the President of the United States, piloting a mech suit, skydiving and blowing an enemy aircraft to fiery shreds–all while gleefully yelling “let’s party!” That alone should get anyone in the door of FromSoftware’s hilariously absurd mech title which had long been a Japanese exclusive for the original Xbox. Thanks to Devolver Digital, western audiences can now experience this campy and bombastic action title. Be warned though: Metal Wolf Chaos’ gameplay hasn’t aged nearly as well as its ridiculous narrative.
Players control America’s Commander in Chief, Michael Wilson, who must thwart a national coup d'etat staged by his evil and cartoonishly over-the-top Vice President, Richard Hawk. Why do America’s top leaders command anime-style fighting robots? Metal Wolf Chaos essentially answers “who cares? It’s funny!”. The adventure is the epitome of “so bad it’s good”, except it clearly revels in its own absurdity. Whether you’re disarming a giant laser cannon on Alcatraz Island or battling a weaponized White House dubbed the “Fight House”, Metal Wolf Chaos happily leads players from one silly event to another.
The B-movie caliber story and dialogue feel like it was penned by a teenager obsessed with Saturday morning action cartoons. Conversations are stilted, awkward, and occasionally don’t even make sense. Jody, an assistant that plays the Otacon to Wilson’s Solid Snake, drops dopey advice and cheesy lines via codec-style conversations. Dialogue never ceases to amuse with plenty of bizarre, quotable lines (“I’ll smash this faster than a Florida recount!”). If only the sound mixing was better as several lines are recorded so low that they’d be missed entirely if not for the subtitles.
Gameplay isn’t quite as consistently entertaining. Metal Wolf, Wilson’s mech suit, can be outfitted with a combination of up to 8 weapons, 4 to each arm, that can be switched on-the-fly. These range from machine guns to bazookas to railguns. The freedom to mix and match weapons leads to fun dual-wield combos like double grenade launchers or an assault rifle/bazooka set up. Earning money and rescuing scientists during missions feeds into the development of new, more powerful arms. Most weapons pack a decent wallop, but others, like the handgun, sniper, and flamethrower, feel totally worthless.
Blasting apart foes has a mindless thrill in that everything is exploding at all times. Just aiming and holding the fire buttons will solve 90% of problems–the last 10% is spent barreling through obstacles head-on. Death usually occurs because the somewhat clunky movement makes it tricky to outmaneuver certain attacks, such as homing missiles. Just because it’s a giant robot doesn’t mean it can’t move more fluidly.
To foil Hawk’s schemes, President Wilson must retake America from coast to coast beginning with California. Backdrops sport nice variety, including an Arizona ghost town and the Grand Canyon. Objectives, unfortunately, don’t share that diversity. Practically every level tasks Wilson with eliminating control towers scattered across the map. Sometimes he just has to wipe them all out. Other times it’s done to weaken a boss or, most annoyingly, must be completed within a time limit. Regardless, get used to blowing up the same towers for hours on end. It gets painfully dull and can take ages in longer missions.
On the way to towers you're often mowing down the same general infantrymen, helicopters, and ground vehicles as well as rescuing captive civilians and collecting resources. Boss battles are either cakewalks or tediously challenging. The final showdown in particular is an infuriating bout. Since Metal Wolf only allows manual saves between missions (there’s no autosave), failure means having to do that whole song and dance over again. That’s one relic that should have stayed in 2004.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD begs you to check your brain at the door, then call it an Uber to the airport to catch a flight to Tahiti. The delightfully stupid story provides the only incentive to push through 15 missions of dated gunplay and mission design that, to be fair, is more mindless than terrible. Still, the gameplay coupled with its relatively steep $25 asking price might make it a game best enjoyed in a Let’s Play video. That way you can bask in its insanity without driving yourself insane.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD is available on August 6 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Screen Rant was provided with a digital PS4 copy for purposes of this review.