It’s time to look at a third person sci-fi shooter. That likely sounds pretty good, but I’m afraid that the game was certainly more on the underwhelming side. The levels were poorly designed and the game isn’t always clear on what the objective is. Throw in the game’s crazy difficulty level and you have a title that is best left on the shelf. The 10 hours it takes you to complete the game will feel like forever, but at least you will get some satisfaction out of this achievement.
The story focuses on a robot named Glitch. All of his friends and family have been taken down by the Mills. This is a different robot faction that wants to conquer the whole universe. So far their plan has gone over quite well, but Glitch will fight to the last man. To do that he must find the leader of the enemies and also destroy as many bases and factories along the way as possible. It won’t be easy, but this guy has spunk and the will to make it happen.
First off, I have to say that the story is quite bad. One of the game’s big selling points is the strong language where almost everything has to get beeped out in certain cutscenes because of how intense everyone is. It’s certainly not a joke that works well and it’s stretched out so long that it simply never had a chance. It’s rare for me to say that the writing in a video game was bad, but this was definitely one of those times. You couldn’t wait for the cutscenes to end in these instances. I guess the only good part would be the stinger that sets up the sequel. The odds of us getting a sequel are virtually 0 at this point, but a person can dream right? A sequel could be good if the game was fixed from the ground up and I have a feeling that it would be. The plot and characters are another story of course, but there’s always a chance.
The main villain is wrecked by the end as well. For the whole game you are convinced that he is a very cunning and powerful leader. He had a secret agent infiltrate our ranks and considering his large army the guy must know what he is doing right? Well, we find out by the end that the guy can’t talk and just likes to beat his chest like King Kong. He has no real character and can’t think too well. It turns out that the right hand man was the real brains behind the operation but the game could have done that without wrecking the final boss. Meanwhile none of the heroes are any good except for Glitch. I’ll say that he was a reasonable lead. The game lightly tries to make him a Hal Jordan/Han Solo kind of guy except he rarely gets to talk so it’s hard to see that. With more of a presence in the story I think he would have worked quite well.
As for the gameplay, as I mentioned it’s a TPS. When you first start you only have Glitch’s main arm cannon. As the game goes on you get a variety of weapons including the 3 best ones, a Gatling Gun, Rockets, and a Sniper Explosive. There’s also the Shotgun, but it’s basically useless until you upgrade it to level 3. At that point it becomes the best weapon in the game, but the ammo runs out almost instantly. I highly recommend upgrading all of your weapons, but getting the parts to do it can be tricky. You also always want to keep some money on hand in case you need to buy some health during a level. The levels are typically platformer style so you have to get to the end while fulfilling some kind of objectives. Keep blasting and the way will be known to you. If you pause the game you will also see a vague mission outline as well which can help you if you’re stuck. The game’s pretty dark so make sure your TV screen has a nice brightness level or you’ll really be in a pickle.
There are 42 levels in the game and it should take you around 10 hours to complete them. After that you can go back and find all of the secret chips to unlock extra multiplayer levels. Naturally as this game has such a multiplayer mode the replay value here is basically limitless. I’m sure it’ll be a blast too since the only thing holding the single player mode back was really the insane difficulty and glitches so the title could live up to its name. If you leave your vehicle behind be prepared to restart the level. Same thing happens if you leave an explosive behind. Also watch out for making it to a checkpoint with low health because you may end up dying quite a lot as you try to survive. Sometimes it’s better to just re-start the whole level. I actually had to replay the first 5 levels again because I initially played the game on normal mode before having to go back to Easy. This game simply didn’t play.
Making matters worse is the fact that 1-2 levels can’t be completed if you go in swinging. You had to play the levels with no guns equipped so the robots wouldn’t shoot at you. There’s almost no way to know that in advance so it feels a little cheap. I cheesed a few levels by just making a beeline for the goal. I had quite a few close shaves there. Now, this isn’t to say that difficulty is a bad thing. Games should be hard and you want a good challenge. However, this difficulty just feels cheap as you die to a few hits or the enemies infinitely respawn. If you don’t have the right grenade to mind control the robots then you’ll be stuck there for a while. I think this game just wasn’t nearly as polished as it should have been and will ultimately go down as one of the worst shooters that I’ve played. The gameplay could possibly be overlooked a little more if the story was any good, but it’s not.
The soundtrack is pretty solid at least. When you hear the main menu theme playing near the climax you know that things are finally getting serious. It was a pretty emotional moment and the other sci-fi themes aren’t bad. The graphics I won’t really fault either. It’s hard for me to say one way or the other if the game is too dark because my TV is always pretty iffy there, but it definitely could have been brighter. The destruction effects are pretty solid. Technically the controls are fairly good as well. You won’t miss a shot that you don’t want too.
Overall, Metal Arms is a bit of a missed opportunity. The game could and should have been amazing. The story of a robot rebellion rising up against its oppressors should be a classic. At the same time, it just missed every easy opportunity that it possibly could and by the end of this game it’ll be hard to remember the good times. The developers were slick by having the best levels be the final ones, but it’s simply too little too late. Unless you’re a huge fan of shooters and want to test your skills here, I would recommend avoiding this game. It’s simply not worth the pain and effort of trying to clear it since the story won’t even act as a reward.