Around the time that Metal Wolf Chaos initially released, From Software had another robot-based title in their portfolio with Armored Core. It’s a bit surprising that the relatively unknown title is getting a re-release, but with Devolver Digital behind it, who cares? The publisher gets some of the coolest and craziest IPs to work with, and Metal Wolf Chaos XD is no exception.
After the vice president performs a coup in the United States, President Michael Wilson takes control of his super-powered mech suit and goes on a rampage to take the country back. The premise is pretty simple, and Metal Wolf Chaos XD hasn’t been changed from its original release. The dialogue is a corny, over-the-top exaggeration of American politics, and I often found myself laughing through conversations and story sequences.
Really only a handful of buttons control the whole experience. Players can equip four or five different weapons for each shoulder button, and each can be cycled through pretty quickly. There are machine guns, assault rifles, rocket launchers, grenade launchers, and tons of other weapons built specifically to rain death upon those that have taken over the country. It’s a flashy hail of bullets, with tons of enemies to take down.
To be fair, there isn’t a lot of substance here. I never played Metal Wolf Chaos when it initially released back in 2004, but I probably would have if it had ever made its way to the West. The real draw is the frenetic mech combat and the over-exaggeration of the United States. There weren’t a lot of Japanese games based in the U.S. at the time, and the draw now is probably similar to when it launched almost 15 years ago.
I think the real charm of Metal Wolf Chaos XD is how exactly the same it is to the original release. Sure, the visuals have gotten an upgrade, and the audio dialogue has been remastered to sound a bit better on current generation consoles and PC. There’s been nothing added or removed, and controls have been modified a bit to work well on modern platforms. Metal Wolf Chaos XD is as pure as when it launched in 2004, and it oozes with charm because of it.
One weird thing that I noticed occurred between missions. In between stages, there are cutscenes of news broadcasts depicting what the president and his brutal mech are up to. While a lot of the game is pretty standard on volume levels, these cutscenes were significantly louder, and actually woke someone up in my house at one point. The rest of the dialogue definitely doesn’t sound much better, and it is passable, but it definitely sounds like an older game (because it is).
There are 14 levels in Metal Wolf Chaos XD, and there are plenty of collectibles and pickups in each. Players rescue POWs and find energy pods to increase their health. Breaking obstacles can yield additional funds or ammo, and players will need every dollar they earn. In between levels players can invest the money they’ve earned into different categories of weapons to unlock new ballistics to craft. Once those weapons are unlocked, players can spend additional funds to craft weapons and add them to their arsenal.
The system to unlock and craft weapons is pretty basic, and definitely could have used some more creativity like finding different materials around each stage to be used to create more powerful guns. For a developer like From Software and how intricate the Armored Core franchise was at the time, I’m a bit surprised it was this simple.
However, there are an obscene amount of weapons to unlock. Some of them are ammo type variations on previously obtained weapons, like energy and incendiary rounds, but having the amount of choice present is nice. Some weapons take up both a left and right slot on the president’s mech, so being mindful about what you equip where is important too.
This became an issue early on when I was still learning the game, and I found myself running out of ammo with the weapons I really wanted to use because I had equipped a weapon that took up multiple slots. Metal Wolf Chaos XD doesn’t really explain any of the gameplay, systems or how to unlock new weapons. It throws players into the deep end, and expects them to figure it out. Having even a basic explanation would have been nice.
The last point I want to hit on about Metal Wolf Chaos XD is how cool some of the boss fights are. Much like the mech players control, boss mechs are very sleek and well-designed. An incredible boss fight late game, which I won’t spoil and just needs to be experienced, was something I wasn’t expecting, and something I don’t think I’ll see any other game top.
I do wish there was more variation in the basic enemies in Metal Wolf Chaos XD, because I could only blast through the same infantrymen, tanks, and helicopters before I began itching for a new boss to defeat.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD definitely shows its age, even with the remaster treatment. This isn’t the general remaster we’re used to though, with everything intact as it was 15 years ago. This re-release almost seems designed to celebrate the game’s roots. Metal Wolf Chaos XD is a simple game, with a ton of heart and charm.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. This review is based on a PS4 copy of the game provided by the publisher. Preorders for the physical version are available here.