To celebrate the 4th of July, I decided to play the most American game ever made… by a Japanese developer and available only in Japan for 15 years until it was finally released here. That’s right, I’m talking about Metal Wolf Chaos XD.
Since it’s supposed to be a 7 hour game, I intended to play it over the weekend and review it on Monday. However, you might remember that when I discussed it in the past, I mentioned that I’m not a huge shooter fan. This goes hand-in-hand with me not being particularly good at shooters. My playthrough took me almost 23 hours, which is why you’re getting a 4th of July review on July 10.
But enough of that, let’s talk about the game.
Metal Wolf Chaos is set in the near future and stars the 47th president of the United States, President Michael Wilson. When his vice president takes over the country in a coup d’etat and begins to destroy freedom, the president has no choice but to get into an advanced mech suit and personally battle the VP’s forces to retake America!
It’s a third-person shooter, and you have a variety of weapons to pick from. A lot of enemies are underpowered compared to you, but you also encounter stronger enemies that put up more of a challenge.
Each mission typically gives you certain target areas to destroy and possibly a boss fight, and there are also POWs you can save – civilians, scientists, and musicians. (For some reason, there are a lot of musicians captured and forced to play music for the enemy.) At the end of each mission, you’re given a rank and rewarded with money, which you can use to research and develop new weapons.
The gameplay is fine, but I really disliked that there are no checkpoints or saving during missions. Getting through a mission only to die on the boss and have to start the whole mission over again was frustrating.
Meanwhile, the story has a bizarre tone, and I was never quite sure if it was trying to be funny with its absurdly over-the-top conversations about freedom and America or if this was meant to be taken seriously. Partway through, I began thinking of it as the Japanese-writing-America equivalent of Americans writing cool ninja stories that have very little basis in reality… and I might not be far off, because the producer said in an interview that it was “our idea of this ideology of American culture and comic book heroes” and described it as “from the American point of view, it’s almost like how they imagine a Japanese ninja.”
For me, the story falls squarely into that “so bad it’s good” category. I eagerly awaited each new cutscene and conversation, not because I wanted to know what would happen in the plot, but because I couldn’t wait to see how ridiculous it would get next.
The dialogue is cheesy, the villains are cartoonishly evil, the voice acting is bizarre (with special mention going to the vice president, who delivers all of his lines like a regular guy you’d meet downtown, but also has the most cliche evil laugh ever), the plot rarely has any real compelling moments, and most of its attempts at emotional moments don’t work.
And yet… there’s something endearing about Michael’s sincere insistence that he must keep fighting for freedom, no matter the odds, because he’s the president of the great United States of America! It’s silly and over-the-top, but it does make him likable.
I’ve never played a game quite like Metal Wolf Chaos XD before. Although I had some trouble with it, I couldn’t have picked a better choice for the 4th of July. This is a game so American, it could only be made in Japan, and the nonsensical escapism of the story was a bizarrely delightful treat.---
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