For those not in the know, Metal Wolf Chaos is a freak of nature. An original Xbox exclusive, released in 2004 in Japan only, developed by FromSoftware, whose dialogue was entirely in English. Much like Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers, this game also seems to be tracking to be a frightening portent of our future based on current real-world happenings in this year of 2018. Devolver Digital, in their deranged grandeur, have deigned to bring this fantastic classic to the West after all these years. It is everything I dreamed it would be.
Half the appeal of this game is the premise, which is so over the top ridiculous, you can’t not enjoy it. America is experiencing an unpresidented (hehe) period of civil and economic unrest, and strife is brewing. The United States military rebels, and attempts to take out the President in a coup d’état. This putsch golpe de estado is led by none other than the Vice President, Richard Hawk. In response, Michael Wilson, 47th President of the United States, takes the fight to them in his personal armoured mech. I’m not making any of this up, go see for yourself.
Because this was from a Japanese developer, ostensibly developed for a Japanese audience, it’s genuinely impossible to tell if it’s satire or not. Considering the time that it was developed, there’s a genuine earnestness and enthusiasm about the presentation that one would not expect from this game. How would we know? Maybe this really is Japan’s idea of cool.
Gameplay wise, it’s everything you’d expect. The game starts with your the oval office exploding, Wilson’s mech forward flipping onto the front lawn of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. You immediately begin mowing down soldiers while the president’s personal assistant sadistically quips over a secure comms channel. This is just the first level, mind you, and the first few minutes at that. From there, you’ll rampage across a tactical map of the US, waging a one-man war against crucial tactical locations, such as… China town… Town? And… A desert. Look, I’m sure it made sense at the time.
Everything about the gameplay is just as strange as the story. You carry a stupid number of arms in your arsenal, the sides of your mech bursting outward into a bouquet of weaponry. Soldiers can be hit by explosions that should tear them apart, yet they’ll always comically fall backward. The controls are completely janky, and it definitely feels like a game from the mid-2000s, but that only adds to its charm. A character who is meant to be the President of the United States flippantly jokes while indiscriminately murdering, and… Okay, so that last one doesn’t sound so weird these days, but you understand what I’m trying to get at.
The UI has been updated to appear clearer and, obviously, translated into English. Weirdly, some alerts that appear on-screen are still in Japanese, and I’d honestly be okay with it staying that way. The rest of the game, however, is almost exactly as it was when it first released. The resolution has been upscaled, but textures and models have been left the same. The original audio is used (and you can tell), and it’s honestly not as bad as you’d think a game from that era could be.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD is already on my list of potential GOTY candidates for 2019, and I’ve only played the first couple of levels. If that isn’t a glowing endorsement, then blow me down with a heavily armed mechanised battle suit.