Fishnet-clad legs + howitzer = mobile infantry unit.
Canine + big honkin' gun = man's best friend whose bomb is worse
than its bite.
Atlus + post-apocalyptic Earth = a completely bizarre and open-ended
RPG called Metal
Atlus has a bit of reputation when it comes to releasing RPGs,
and quirky does not begin to describe it. With titles such as
and the Shin Megami Tensei series under its belt, it should
come as no surprise that its latest project follows tradition
by breaking tradition and creates a unique gameplay experience.
Metal Saga is the latest in the Metal Max series,
which dates back to the Famicom, but North American gamers are
catching their first glimpse at this series. The background plot
is standard post-apocalyptic fare with an Asimovian twist: a supercomputer
named Noah was built to control pollution but decided to get rid
of the source of pollution, namely humanity. The actual war between
the robot lords and the humans has passed, and humanity is starting
to pickup the tattered remains of civilization. While the war
may be over, the world is still a dangerous place, chock full
of sentient machines, cyborgs, and gun-toting bumblebees.
But at first glance, that backstory has little to do with a young
man who is the main character of Metal Saga. This unnamed
hero is the son of a famous Hunter and a renowned mechanic, and
he has decided to follow in his father's footsteps and explore
the world as a Hunter. The story opens with him going off in search
of a vehicle, a very necessary accessory to survival.
"Overall, Metal Saga looks like an intriguing entry
into an RPG field usually over-laden with sword and sorcery
Metal Saga is distinctly open-ended and non-linear, and
it is up to players to determine what happens to the youth. This
sort of freedom is rarely found in Japanese RPGs, but the game
takes full advantage by offering multiple endings at various points
during exploration. It's quite possible that the game holds a
record for shortest RPG ever since a full end-of-game scenario
can be reached within a few minutes of starting a new game. Needless
to say, choices can have unexpected consequences.
Random encounters cause turn-based battles, but Metal Saga
throws a kink into the mix with the utilization of vehicles. While
battles can and will be fought on foot, continued existence is
heightened by fighting from a souped-up tank, complete with a
massive main cannon, subgun, several specialized attack attachments,
and enough armor plating to withstand a barrage from a crazed
Herbie. Finding, modding, upgrading, maintaining, and even painting
these vehicles is a major draw for the game, but they are not
necessarily invulnerable. After taking enough damage, different
parts of the vehicle will become disabled; while severity varies,
it is quite possible to be ejected and forced to continue the
fight on foot.
Beyond the battles, Metal Saga offers a large and intriguing
world, complete with Atlus-style humor. Since quests and bounties
are completely up to the player, it's possible to just wander
around enjoying the scenery, finding a remarkable array of diverse
items, or participating in one of the numerous mini-games. Of
course, the game does offer suggestions for where to go next,
and high level monsters tend to make chopped scrap metal out of
low level tanks.
The graphics quality is adequate but is helped by the unique
flair that is the world of Metal Saga. The soundtrack displays
a significant diversity, ranging from piano tunes reminiscent
of Final Fantasy to hard rock evocative of the original
Spy Hunter. Thus far the game has featured neither voice
acting not cut-scenes.
Overall, Metal Saga looks like an intriguing entry into
an RPG field usually over-laden with sword and sorcery epics.
Keep posted to RPGamer for a full review closer to release date.