After nearly 15 years, Metal Wolf Chaos has brought its over-the-top mech action and American bravado over to America and other parts of the world as Metal Wolf Chaos XD! This remaster of the 2004 Japanese Xbox exclusive title by From Software is now available digitally on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One thanks to General Arcade and Devolver Digital. A physical copy has also just been released on PS4, thanks to Special Reserve Games! It is this version we are looking at today and I must admit I am pretty excited to do so!
What’s In The Box
There are two versions of the physical release of Metal Wolf Chaos XD: the GameStop exclusive version, which is the one I have on hand, and the Special Reserve website version that is limited to 3000 copies. The GameStop edition comes in a standard PS4 case with an awesome depiction of the players' mech taking up the right half of the artwork. The Metal Wolf Chaos XD logo resides just to the left with a depiction of the American flag in the background. The flag continues along the spine of the case to the back, where the games presidential seal can also be found.
In minimalistic design, there are no in-game screenshots to be found back here. Just below is the list of companies involved in making this physical release a reality. One last fun detail is found down in the copyright area where a special thank you has been placed for supporting game developers! Opening the case we have the Blu-ray disk, which once again sports the game’s presidential seal, and an artwork insert showcasing the mech. Underneath these, is an interior artwork that mirrors that found on the outside of the case, but without all of the PlayStation branding.
The United States has entered a time of civil unrest. Rebellions have occurred in the past that threatened the nation as we know it. Now, a new rebellion, led by the Vice President of the United States, has taken the country completely. President of the United States, Michael Wilson, will not stand for this tyranny and launches a one-mech assault to take back the country from evil!
I played the original Xbox release of Metal Wolf Chaos a few years back and loved the old-school arcade mech action. Japanese menus made figuring out some things a bit difficult, but a good majority of the game was already in English, including all dialogue and cutscenes. Now that the title is available fully translated and updated for modern consoles, I couldn’t be happier. Metal Wolf Chaos XD is a product of its 2004 roots with over-the-top action, cheesy storyline, and bad acting! It is also a total blast to play today, with gameplay holding up surprisingly well. It even manages to feel a bit more unique than you would expect, compared to most other titles available today with its “destroy everything” arcade approach.
As the game begins you must flee the White House as it is assaulted by Vice President Richard Hawke’s coup d'état forces. This mission is a good intro that teaches you all the basics of how to command your mech and its different weapons and abilities. Movement is typical of a third-person action game; you can move, strafe and look around freely. Triggers control firing the weapons in their respective hands and using Circle in combination with them will let you cycle between currently equipped weapons. There is also jumping and thrusters that can be used to further rain down destruction on these rebel scum!
Metal Wolf Chaos XD features 14 missions taking place in varying locations across the United States and beyond. Level structure between all 14 missions is largely the same, where you are tasked with destroying outposts before taking on the main target area. Some missions throw in a timed segment or a boss fight, pitting you against a stronger foe, to spice up the variety. Overall I find most missions enjoyable and there is a nice difficulty jump as the campaign progresses. Unlike From Software’s later titles, Metal Wolf Chaos XD is able to be difficult without feeling cheap-shotty, which I enjoy. After finishing the campaign, additional difficulties unlock to provide an even more hellish experience if you are into such things!
Now, this wouldn’t be an arcade-style game without a ton of points and a ranking system! After each mission, you are scored on how well you did and earn in-game currency and a rank ranging from E to S. Getting a higher rank means earning more currency, which can then be used to purchase weapon upgrades. Upgrades are interesting in Metal Wolf Chaos XD because you first have to use money to research a weapon, then spend more money to construct it. You also aren’t able to purchase upgrades for your mech’s systems, instead having to collect 5 upgrade items for your stats to get a nice boost. You can find these items by rescuing hostages and destroying buildings. You can also unlock new rocking music tracks this way!
Now let's talk about combat for a minute, as how you approach the destruction is where the fun of Metal Wolf Chaos XD lies. You have a wide variety of weapons to choose from in the game ranging from pistols, rifles, flamethrowers, to rail guns and missile launchers. Each weapon type is good for dealing with different types of enemies or structures. Each weapon uses ammo that can be replenished by finding pick-ups along your path of destruction. Certain weapons also rely on your mechs boost meter to be fired, so if you boost around too much you will find yourself having to wait to retaliate.
Weapon inventory is divided up into 8 equipable spots, with 4 on each hand. Small arms like pistols and assault rifles only require the use of one hand, while larger weapons like the rail gun will use up the slots for both hands. Bringing a different variety of weapons into a mission can make or break your chances at success, and there were plenty of times where I had to back out and reevaluate my weapon load-outs. This happened a lot on one of the game's final missions where I was having quite a hard time succeeding. For particularly hard segments, there is an ultimate attack that can be unleashed that might just turn the tide.
Of course, a good defense is a key component of a good offense, and knowing how and when to use your boosts is a vital part of survival. Boosting can be used to avoid incoming missiles or high powered shots. It is a little clunky to get used to at first but becomes easier as the game progresses. As your mech gets upgraded you also gain more boost, which is awesome since, in the beginning, you can barely use it at all before you start digging into your shield energy. Yes, using too much boost will cause your shield bar to deplete, making you easier to kill, making it another interesting balancing act between offense and defense. Playing on harder difficulties really accents this perfectly and death will result in needing to replay the mission in its entirety.
For a game that originally came out in 2004, Metal Wolf Chaos XD looks surprisingly good! In no way does it look realistic, but the old art has a nice stylized look to it that lets it still shine today. Of course, there are upgrades over the original release like the new widescreen presentation. The resolution has also been bumped from 480P to 1080P or even 4K if you are playing on PC, PS4 Pro or Xbox One X. Cutscenes from the original game were done in a 16:9 letterbox format, so those are now also full screen on modern platforms. Oh, and menus are now fully in English!
One area where Metal Wolf Chaos XD hasn’t changed from its original release is in the audio department. Every cheesy piece of badly acted dialogue is here in its entirety along with the amazingly rocking soundtrack. Seriously, I love the music in this game; it is just the perfect mix of rock for my tastes! You might want to adjust audio levels though, as the soundtrack can overpower most everything else at times.
Thanks to its arcadey nature Metal Wolf Chaos XD is a game you can sink a good number of hours into after your first ~7-hour playthrough. Getting the highest ranks on each mission is just one aspect of this. There are also unlockable skins and collecting all the game’s weapons and hostages. Beating the game on Hell difficulty is a challenge unto itself that can also take some time.
What It Could Have Done Better
There are some minor annoyances in Metal Wolf Chaos XD, like a lack of checkpoints in missions. I wish General Arcade had been able to implement this into the game as a quality of life improvement to make the game more appealing to a modern audience. Missions aren’t super long, so doing a couple of replays isn’t the worst thing in the world, but still. There were also a couple of instances of unlockables being dropped where I couldn’t physically reach them, making me have to do a replay and hope it would land better the next time.
For a game that originally came out in 2004, Metal Wolf Chaos XD still provides a gaming experience worth playing today. It isn’t the newest or flashiest of games, but the basics of gameplay and over-the-top action prove that there is no school like the old-school. It is also great that more people can finally experience the game now that it is available worldwide. The release of another physical version also means the game will continue to be playable for more decades to come and yes, you should play it!