Metal Arms: Glitch in the System

December 18, 2003

[floatleft][/floatleft]I kept my eye on Metal Arms from the moment it was released. Originally I read that it was supposed to be some sort of hybrid platformer. Where that came from I will never know, but if you buy Metal Arms expecting a platformer then you are sorely mistaken. Metal Arms is a solid 3rd person shooter with a pretty good story line and some very strange humor.

The first time Metal Arms was on the OXM Demo Disc I played it about 5 or 6 times and not one time did I get more than about 5 minutes into the level. I must have been on a heavy duty suck streak because I just couldn’t do well on that game. It showed up a second time on the OXM disc and I tried but still couldn’t manage any respectable level of skill with this game. It wasn’t until this point in time that I realized I was playing a shooter and not a platformer of any kind. Why it took me so long to actually realize this is beyond me.

Being that I was absolutely wretched at the demo I was slightly afraid to purchase this game. What if I was so terrible at it that it had no fun factor whatsoever? To save myself a little bit of trouble I rented it from NumbThumb. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t suck quite as bad in the full version of the game even though not much had changed. The first thing I noticed was that the game felt a lot like Brute Force. The whole 3rd person shooter had never really appealed to me and while I felt Brute Force fell a little bit short of its mark, Metal Arms delivered nicely. I am not really sure if it is the fact that BF was announced as a Halo Killer that assured its demise or if it is because Metal Arms is a more lighthearted humor driven game that didn’t make any lofty guarantees.

[floatright][/floatright]After acquainting yourself with the controls you soon realize that they need to be tweaked a tad. Good thing for you they added a sensitivity setting which should improve the sluggish feeling of the camera. After tweaking the controls a tiny bit I felt right at home playing Metal Arms. One of the things that pleasantly surprised me about the game was the plot. I expected a run of the mill story with lots of action, but I was given a hilarious outlandish story involving a very one sided conflict with our hero fighting an uphill battle. Glitch is recruited by the resistance army who is defending their only stronghold. Unfortunately, the army is down to a handful of soldiers who just happen to get destroyed very quickly after the story begins. The resistance is left with one lone soldier, you, to fight off an entire army.

You start off with a single puny gun but it isn’t long before you are carrying multiple weapons and sniping off enemy robots with the Rivet Gun. Glitch’s strength lies in the diversity of weapons he has. You have one gun that will do just about everything you can imagine and on top of that you have some power packed grenades and various other secondary weapons. The only unfortunate thing is that your scope is classified as a secondary weapon and its use can be rather tedious should a large group of enemies sneak up on you while zoomed in. Switching between guns is very easy and gameplay is actually suspended as you choose weapons. Normally I would consider this weak, but once you see just how many guns Glitch has available, it becomes justified.

Graphically, Metal Arms is refined and well done aside from some vertical sync issues that seem to plague certain circumstances of the game. If you don’t know what I am talking about, walk into a corner and start spinning in circles and you will see how the graphics seem to shift. That is a major issue in my eyes and I wish it would have been caught before the game shipped. Aside from that flaw, I didn’t really have any complaints about the way it looked.

I have to be honest with you for a moment. If you read the Jak 2 review then you know that I am a generally calm person unless I get really frustrated with a game which doesn’t happen all that often. So you can understand the frustration that I experienced when 2 games so close together made me almost break various elements of my gaming setup. There have been 2 levels to date in Metal Arms that were not difficult by any stretch of the imagination but the utter frustration that I experienced while playing them cannot be described. Needless to say, the game can be hard and it can be easy and it will frustrate you. Either that or I am losing my edge.

[floatleft][/floatleft]One aspect of the game that I didn’t get to spend too much time with was multiplayer. Scattered throughout the single player game are secret chips. These chips unlock various multiplayer levels. You start out with 5 MP levels to choose from with another 9 that are locked. The first locked level should be opened very quickly as it only takes a few chips to achieve. As far as gameplay options in MP you have your standard options as well as a few unique game types. You can play Tag or Reverse Tag, Possession Melee, Death Match, King of the Hill, Moving Hill, and Timed Bot Brawl in free for all or team mode. Death Match, King of the Hill, and Moving Hill should be familiar to Halo multiplayer vets. Timed Bot Brawl and Tag should be pretty self explanatory. I didn’t get to play it so I am still not really sure what Possession Melee is all about. Needless to say, there are plenty of options packed into this title. The only thing you may feel uneasy about is the 3rd person view in a split screen MP game. It is hard enough sharing screen real estate with other players, but to also use a 3rd person view means you will have even less of a view of the other players and the level. I can do 3rd person in a single player game and I think the MP was a welcome addition, but 3rd person MP just doesn’t sit well with me.

Despite the apparent lack of skill that I must posses, I enjoyed Metal Arms. It was not without fault, but all around it was an above average game and I don’t particularly care for most shooters especially 3rd person ones. Metal Arms is definitely fun and the storyline humor makes it even better. It was really nothing like I expected to be; it was quite a bit better. I have played a lot of very good games recently and I would rank Metal Arms pretty high up there. It took a lot of people by surprise and I heard many people mention it as a sleeper hit. All in all, I enjoyed Metal Arms, but I have a hard time recommending it with a $50 price tag right now. A debut at $39.99 would have made this a solid deal, but I recommend you wait for it to come down in price and then pick it up. If the third person view generally bothers you, go out on a limb and try Metal Arms anyway. You might be surprised.

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.