Before FromSoftware began destroying players’ egos with Dark Souls, they were known for their mech action series Armored Core. It was a series that leaned heavily on its anime influences, but also provided some solid gameplay.
Microsoft wanted some of that mech action on the original Xbox in Japan. They also wanted a game that might appeal to an American audience. Through some back-and-forth interactions between FromSoftware and Microsoft Japan, Metal Wolf Chaos came into being.
What Is It?
Metal Wolf Chaos XD is a re-release of the original Xbox game. For a lot of people, this will be the first time the game can be experienced here in the West. The game was exclusive to Japan upon its release in 2004. Though the game did feature english voice acting, it never made its way over. Some claim the american branch of Microsoft balked when they saw the ridiculously over-the-top story. More likely, though, the game was simply passed by because Microsoft’s own MechAssault 2 would release one week after Metal Wolf Chaos did. Whatever the case was, we now have a legitimate release of the game that will not set us back several hundred dollars to acquire.
The game is set in 2025. A military coup was orchestrated and executed by the Vice President leading his forces with a prototype mech suit. The country quickly fell, but 47th President Michael Wilson has his own prototype mech suit, and he’s not afraid to use it. You’ll play as the 47th POTUS, doing the American thing and taking the fight to the VP.
Things only get more ridiculous from there. If you’re expecting a serious, dark, and gritty dystopian story, this isn’t it.
Why Should I Care?
Setting aside the game’s insane premise, the gameplay itself is actually quite enjoyable. With a third-person behind-the-mech camera view, it’s easy enough to see what’s going on. The extra screen real-estate you get to either side helps out, letting you see more of the environment.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD will have you taking on several different types of mission. There are simple things like getting to a designated point, defending a target, surviving waves of enemy attacks, or destroying specific targets. There is enough variety in the mission types to keep things from feeling too repetitive. Though you will be doing much of the same things over and over again, the way the objectives are presented is varied enough that it doesn’t feel tedious.
There is a good deal of destructibility to the environments, too. This gives you a sense that you really are piloting a giant mech and tearing stuff up. You get a generous auto-aim window to work with, too, so hitting your targets is rarely a problem.
One minor point of irritation came with the default stick sensitivities feeling too sluggish. It’s easily remedied in the options, but it’s something to be aware of. The game doesn’t need to feel so sluggish.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
Bringing this game to modern platforms didn’t come without its challenges. An original Xbox game meant to run in standard definition needs work to get it looking decent on modern platforms. The team at General Arcade did a nice job with this port. Some textures were upscaled to get them to look a bit better at higher resolution. The game’s HUD was also redrawn from scratch. It wasn’t changed, just redrawn to fit the higher screen resolution. It still looks like an up-converted Xbox game, with some textures still looking rough and explosions that look dated. It isn’t a full remaster or remake. It’s an “If it ain’t broke” style port. It’s likely General Arcade and Devolver could have brought the game over in its original 4:3 aspect ratio and not done anything at all to the visuals, but then the criticism would have been that they didn’t do enough to update it.
The game’s localization wasn’t touched, either. The original english voice-overs were retained, though they were remastered from the original source files. They sound cleaner than they did back in 2004, but they are 100% as cheesy as ever.
If this game had come out in 2004 alongside MechAssault 2 it would have likely been panned by critics. With a 15 year delay in coming west, the game has managed to gain a certain cult-classic status. What was trite and poorly written back then now comes off as charming.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD is a great way to experience one of the gaming industry’s most obscure and outlandish games without breaking the bank. It is not a bad game, but it’s far from a masterpiece. It’s a lot like a Pub Crawl. You go from place to place, with things getting progressively crazier with each pub you visit. Eventually, it ends. You