Before Demon’s Souls, before Dark Souls, before Bloodborne and Sekiro, From Software released a Japanese Xbox exclusive in 2004. That game was Metal Wolf Chaos.
Even in 2019, the game plot is quite out there; the sitting US President has been overthrown by a military coup led by his Vice President, who immediately cracks down and quashes America’s freedom. So what does overthrown President Michael Wilson do? Does he run and hide? No. He is the President of the United States and he is going to bring freedom back using a heavily weaponised personal mech suit. Obviously.
The first mission has you running around the grounds of the White House looking for a way to escape from the military, but whatever they throw is no match compared to your suit and armaments. Soldiers will go flying, trucks will explode, and helicopters will fall out of the sky. You feel unstoppable, but this is a FromSoftware title and you quickly get brought back down to Earth.
Once you escape, it’s up to you to liberate the US, going from coast to coast. You can choose what missions to tackle, but some will be incredibly tough with just your basic weapons. So you’ll be going into missions with the aim of getting as high a score as possible, earning money depending on how well you do and then investing that cash in weapon research to unlock better weapons. Oh, and then you need to earn even more money and resources to buy those weapons once researched.
Weapons fall into a number of categories, going from handguns and machine guns through to missile launchers, flamethrowers and railguns. You can create a loadout with up to four weapons per arm to cycle between, with a great bit of mech design as they fan out behind the President from their storage pods. You can’t exactly say that the President’s arsenal is lacking, but you might feel that it is once you face some of the tougher enemies. Your guns might be more than able to handle the threats in one mission, only to feel like you’re squirting them with a water pistol in the next.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD features one of the earlier incarnations of FromSoftware’s current design philosophy. You will have to retread your steps to improve your skills and get the right equipment, so prepare to grind a bit by replaying previous missions. While having to redo missions could be considered padding, you do get to see your personal progress as you smash through enemies faster and chase a higher score. However, there are a couple of missions and bosses that are really frustrating, especially since there are no checkpoints within missions – the game now touts a “new save system” but from what we can tell this is just auto-saves between missions in addition to manual ones. Some bosses can take a bit of time to get to as well, so it can be frustrating to die and have to do the whole mission again. It may have been okay in 2004, but given the over the top action it now feels dated.
Most of the missions will consist of running around relatively small levels destroying designated targets and rescuing hostages. You will have to watch your step in a couple of areas as landmines are around and they deal a ton of damage – if you get trapped in a minefield you may as well restart there and then. Each mission is about destroying as many of the enemy as possible, as well as demolishing certain buildings and containers to get power-ups. These can bump up your attack, replenish your shields, and charge the Burst attack, which unloads your arsenal of weapons in a wide area for a huge damage output. Those expecting anything deeper in missions than going into an area and blowing things up won’t find it here.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD is more of a traditional remaster than a remake, as we’ve seen with the likes of Crash N.Sane Trilogy.. The resolution has been bumped up to HD and 4K levels, some parts of the graphics have been tweaked, and the audio has been cleaned up, but it is fundamentally true to and looks like the 2004 version of the game.
The game is exceptionally cheesy, in part because of the voice acting which fits completely with the completely outlandish story. Unfortunately, while the audio has been modified, the balance shifts wildly between playing the game and the cutscenes. It might be set nicely for in-game levels, but as soon as it switches to a cutscene it’s like the characters are talking to you through a huge speaker system. The soldiers are unintelligible and the hostages sound pretty basic as well. Again not much has been changed from the 2004 release, but it’s a shame that something as simple as audio levels are so inconsistent.