You know those cheesy B-movies on the Sci-Fi channel at 3 a.m.? Bingo… - Review By Subskin
Don't be fooled by the shiny new box art - Wild Metal is a port of last year's PC game Wild Metal Country. Wild Metal Country quickly disappeared from store shelves to become a pack-in game for many a 3D-accelerator card. Since Rockstar Games changed the name and nobody's announced a video upgrade for the Dreamcast, maybe Wild Metal will work better on a console.
How's this for a bland story: machines that used to guard a colony went berserk and killed off the residents. Nobody's been back in years. Now they want you to go in alone and recapture color-coded "power cores" while wiping out the machines. Descent, anyone?
Wild Metal's split-screen mode is pretty weak. It only allows 2 players, and you spawn within weapons range of each other. Fortunately, Wild Metal was designed for Internet play - piss poor graphics and slow movement make ping time irrelevant!
Oh wait, the Dreamcast doesn't even have online gaming yet… This game sucks!!!
Oh boy, combat! Oh wait, Atari 2600 Combat is 100 times more fun than this hunk of junk.
Wild Metal should have shipped in September. Rockstar Games, though, were apparently waiting for something (because they sure as Hell weren't busy improving the game). It seems obvious to this reviewer that Wild Metal was always intended to utilize the 56k modem and allow large multi-player games. So why did they hold it back this long before finally releasing it?
First off, the graphics were dated even when it came out for the PC. The vehicles are about as big as the cars in Re-Volt - but with a third of the detail. Placed on the grossly repetitive and boring levels, this should give an illusion of large-scale warfare on a huge planet. Instead it feels like Hot Wheels ramming around in a sandbox.
Actually, I think playing with Hot Wheels was much more exciting than Wild Metal. If mankind ever does wage a war against machines, I hope it isn't this friggin' boring. Most of the game is spent driving around a generic landscape trying to keep your little Ford Pinto of a tank from flipping over. Even when you do find one of the seventeen similarly booger-sized enemies, battle feels like more of a chore than any kind of rewarding experience.
After lobbing a bunch of shots at this nearly immobile enemy, I'll need to climb over this hill and find one of those things. And then find some more things and then roll down some more hills. Yep, sounds like a fun way to kill a couple hours to me...
The battles are just wretched. I've had more fun in line at the DMV than fighting the monotonous little buggers in Wild Metal. The AI is so bad it hurts - all the computer does is wait for you to get close and then open fire. From then on it continues to shoot until either you or it dies. Simple? Yes. Worthwhile? No.
The controls drop the game even lower down the "worthless-waste-of-plastic" ladder. The L and R triggers rotate your tank's turret. Once you think you've targeted something, you press and hold A button to begin elevating the cannon. When the cannon is at the proper height, you release… and the shell generally hits nothing. This is even more ridiculous than it sounds, and the fact that all five of the selectable tanks fire this way sucks mucho grande. There are power-ups littered throughout the game, but none of them salvage the gameplay. The unimaginative weapons are limited to rapid fire, a bouncing shot, a homing missile, and an explosive cannon.
Worse still, the horrible graphics make it a pain-in-the-ass just to tell which weapon you have selected! The bottom of the screen displays an array of information. On the left side of the screen are small weapon icons selectable with the D-pad. The resolution on this display is so bad you can't distinguish one icon from another, even on a 27" TV! On the right side of the info display is a health bar. The bar consists of a red stripe, then a yellow stripe, and finally another red stripe. As much as I'm in favor of bars with Red Stripes, this counter-intuitive piece-of-crap makes it difficult to figure out when you're taking damage.
At least the multi-player mode is fun... oh wait, that sucks too.
Most of the time when you get hurt it's from falling off a cliff. Although the Y and B buttons are used to adjust the vertical elevation of the camera, it's still overly difficult to determine whether your vehicle can make it up a hill. After you've beaten yourself half-to-death rolling down mountains, you can rejuvenate health one of two ways. First, you can call for a helicopter. The helicopter will levitate, heal, and set you back down. This is extremely useful, since some of the tanks like to roll on their backs where they can no longer move. The other way to rebuild health is by visiting a "store." Stores are floating pentagons that do not, in fact, buy or sell anything. Instead, they collect the used power cores you find.
Look at this crap, I mean, just LOOK at it. Blech.
According to the instruction manual, stores are also supposed to show you where the remaining power cores are. Since the entire screen doubles as a radar (think Terminal Velocity), the power cores are supposed to be projected there. Supposed to be… None of us could see any on-screen indication that pointed to the power cores. This ability would have been useful, since those little cores like to hide on mountain ridges that appear too steep to climb.
Sonically, Wild Metal is tied with the Backstreet Boys - neither of them has put out any real music. In Rockstar's defense, at least Wild Metal didn't try to make music. Instead, we're treated to the drone of tank treads and a single explosion sound. And some occasional beeps and buzzes. And more tank treads. On second thought, maybe the Backstreet Boys do beat out this poor excuse for a "soundtrack."
The Final Word
If Wild Metal had come out on September 9th, 1999 and included full Internet play, it might have been worthwhile. PC gamers will tell you that the slow-paced, low-res capture-the-flag variants like Wild Metal work well on 56k modems. Without the Internet support, though, this is a weak effort all around. Shame on you, Rockstar Games. Shame.
Developer: DMA Design
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Lows: Bad gameplay, bad graphics, bad controls, bad sounds, bad bad bad.
Other: 1-2 Players, VMU Compatible.
(out of a possible 10)
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