The story of Metal Wolf Chaos is an interesting one. Like how developer FromSoftware wanted to make a mech game more appealing than its Armored Core series, and release it to a wider audience. So they did; but they released a game that took place in the United States, released it on the original Xbox, but was sold only in Japan. This meant you had to acquire not only the game, but a Japanese Xbox to play it, which is rather costly to do. Metal Wolf Chaos XD is an updated re-release that finally makes its way to modern consoles and PC thanks to Devolver Digital and General Arcade with FromSoftware’s help. Having minimal knowledge of the game, and experiencing it for the first time; this is a silly, uncomplicated yet really fun game that’s been worth the wait.
The game has only one speed, and it’s at maximum. There’s no buildup to the events of the game as the initial cutscene introduces you to President Michael Wilson (bears a striking resemblance to a young Michael Douglas) and Vice President Richard Hawk. Richard is a Dick, and has begun a coup d’etat against the sitting President. Michael Wilson has the entire United States of America against him thanks to Richard Hawk, and does the only logical thing to combat it: suit up in a giant mech suit stored underneath the White House and began a campaign of restoration. Never before has a President been so hands-on, and it is the most patriotic thing you could imagine.
With the President in the Metal Wolf, you’ll campaign across America like it’s Cruis’n USA, visiting actual cities like Chicago, New York City, Phoenix, San Francisco, and even the Grand Canyon, with fourteen locations in total. You choose your mission from an overview map, and can play most missions in any order you like. There’s a bit of anti-American propaganda from a news journalist in a helicopter, reporting for DNN who comments on everything they do. As he is vehemently against the president, antagonizing everything Metal Wolf does. This is very much a game of the era, with jokes regarding the Florida election recounts from 2004. The cutscenes, and conflict between the President and VP seems something out of Metal Gear Solid.
Since this is an updated re-release, there’s been some work done to the game to make it playable and work on modern systems, even though it’s not a full remaster. Textures are cleaned up, and in some cases enhanced for 1080p and 4K resolutions. The UI has been redrawn to work well with modern displays. The voiceover itself has gone unchanged, but has been remastered for higher quality audio. There’s been a lot of work here, and it looks and plays great, even though it feels like a game from 2004.
So what remains? Well, for some reason the sound is inconsistent. Gameplay audio is generally quieter than the cutscenes that precede and proceed the gameplay. Metal Wolf Chaos XD, still features some odd localization oddities and voice over that is eccentric, and at times, annoying. The gameplay also remains unchanged, to include levels and boss encounters to stay as they were when the game released. The important and quirky bits have been preserved, for better or worse.
Metal Wolf XD has you carrying up to eight weapons at once, four weapons for your left arm, and four for your right arm. Being able to dual wield weapons of varying degrees, from shotguns to assault rifles to bazookas and railguns. There’s a wide variety of guns to choose from, allowing you to mix and match weapons to your liking. The way you change weapons looks fantastic, as the Metal Wolf opens up to show the actual weapons you’re carrying. The HUD also lets you cycle through the weapons and you can select from the weapons you’ve assigned to each arm to choose from. It’s extremely smooth and intuitive when in the thick of combat.
Aside from the main mission objectives like destroying all targets or fighting a massive boss, there are side objectives to complete. You can free people captured inside cages for bonus points. When taking out your targets, there will be dropped items that replenish ammo or your shields. The gameplay is generally fair, and there’s no difficulty options to choose from. Among everything I experienced, only the final boss was ever problematic, being tedious and frustrating to fight. It was my least favorite part of the game, but the things you do and places you go make you forget it.
The upgrade system is unique in Metal Wolf Chaos XD, in that you’ll do two forms of development: investment and manufacture. You generally want to invest first, which will boost the level of whatever weaponry you select: handguns, shotguns, missiles, rocket launchers, and more. Then, you can manufacture the weapons that get unlocked, and ultimately equip them for use in your upcoming missions. It’s a very governmental and industrial way to go about it, but there’s a “no fluff” feeling that you get what you put into it that makes upgrading a breeze.
In the Metal Wolf, you’ll jump and glide, while managing heat of your jets to move around, known as burst and boost. Both, throughout most of my time in the game felt super limited, but was something I could deal with. You’ll also manage shields. It’s worth noting you can’t directly upgrade the mech, there will be benefits to the Metal Wolf by equipping higher level weapons that increase shields, boost, and burst. These systems work well together, and while not traditional by today’s standards, feel intuitive to use. And when you’ve built up for your ultimate strike, seeing all the weapons open up and fire all at once is so satisfying.
Metal Wolf Chaos finds new life on PC, PS4, and Xbox One with Metal Wolf Chaos XD. And while it’s not a full remaster, it does more than enough to become accessible for the first time in its existence. The work done to bring this to modern systems and give people a chance to finally play it by removing the complications of obtaining the original Japanese game and hardware, is so appreciated. Metal Wolf Chaos XD is bonkers from start to finish, only getting crazier by game’s end. It very much feels like an unearthed time capsule, but Metal Wolf Chaos XD offers much in the way of replayability and absurdity that I couldn’t help but love its zaniness.
A pre-release Steam code was provided by the publisher for review purposes