Pages: 1 2 3
Review by: Nick Stewart
Published: July 25, 2000
Regardless of what you thought of your childhood, chances are that there are some aspects of it that you will never be able to forget. Family outings, hostile encounters with your siblings…but most of all, you’re likely to remember one or two toys that you had a particular fondness for. Of the many images associated with these youthful distractions, few are as enduring as that of the robot.
Whether it was Transformers or of the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em variety, it’s likely that these metallic beings had some sort of spot in your heart at some point or another. This affection survives well through time, as the overall attitude narrows itself to a more gracefully violent focus, as can often be seen within countless anime offerings, which are decidedly not for children. Though game developers have picked up on this fascination in the past, producing such titles as Z and RoboRumble, the subject has remained largely untouched in the flurry of RTS offerings that have recently hit the market. With this in mind, console developer Zono has taken up the challenge and has recently released the highly-anticipated robot-crunching Metal Fatigue.
Countless movies, books and video games have foreseen that the future of humankind is not one of fraternity and mutual understanding, but rather of war and greed. Metal Fatigue poses a similar scenario, as 23rd century Earth has been dominated at the hands of large super-corporations called CorpoNations, and their shareholders. As faster-than-light travel has finally been mastered, it is these heads of industry that spearheaded the campaign to explore the outer reaches of space. Instead of discovering wealth and riches, however, they stumbled across the tattered remnants of a once-powerful alien civilization, called the Hedoth. Though none of the abandoned technologies could be used, the CorpoNations gleaned that a society as powerful as the Hedoth must surely have faced a truly powerful enemy if they were willing to abandon entire solar systems in order to escape. Suddenly fearful of a common foe, three of the Earth’s greatest and strongest CorpoNations banded together to form a single fleet in order to explore the Hedoth regions for further clues, while protecting one another against potential alien invasion.
Each of the three participating CorpoNations — RimTech, Mil-Agro and Neuropa — sent their best and their brightest to the surface of Hedoth Prime to investigate the disappearance of the alien race. RimTech’s proudest contribution, the famed Angelus brothers, were busy combing the planet’s surface for clues, when Jonus, the middle brother, stumbled upon functional and highly destructive Hedoth technology. Before the three could argue about Jonus’ decision to sell the discovery to Neuropa, a Mil-Agro strike force suddenly attacked the site, nearly killing Stefan, the youngest brother. Certain that the worst had befallen their junior sibling, Jonus and Diego, the eldest, went their separate ways, one betraying family tradition while the other remained dedicated to protect it. In the meantime, Mil-Agro forces collected Stefan’s battered body and restored it to health, while reconditioning his mind to work for their cause. This single series of events urged the CorpoNations to divide once more in the hopes of harnessing future technological discoveries for themselves; as such, the once-protective fleet transformed into a grand force of battle. CorpoNation turned against CorpoNation as brother turned against brother; war has been declared.
It is with this chaotic state of affairs taking hold that Metal Fatigue begins. Split into three separate campaigns, one for each Angelus brother, gameplay is highly reminiscent of the ever-popular “traditional” style RTS game, as you collect resources in order to support your growing need for troops and base expansion. Instead of revolving around money, however, the title’s central resource is thermal energy, measured in Metajoules. As it is with most old-fashioned RTS offerings, this thermal energy is scarce on the planet’s surface, and thus is fiercely sought after by the various CorpoNations seeking to conquer it. As you progress through missions of discovery, protection, domination and more, you’ll be forced to seek out as much thermal energy as possible, available within lava pools and the sun’s rays. You’ll eventually need to engage in ruthless, do-or-die combat, and to this end you have the standard range of units, as well as the MechWarrior-like robots of colossal size and destructive ability. Using the various tools at your disposal, you move from mission to mission, each punctuated by its own set of CorpoNation-assigned orders as well as the appropriate brother’s personal log which details his thoughts and feelings on upcoming events. Veterans of the genre will instantly feel at home with the title’s tried-and-true approach to core gameplay.
Anyone who’s tried their hand at TopWare Interactive’s recent hit, Earth 2150, will instantly recognize the system of “layering” which Metal Fatigue employs. Simply put, planetary surfaces have been held as the standard battlefield for the majority of RTS releases, a tradition that has been slipping within recent titles such as the aforementioned Earth 2150, which featured above-ground and subterranean combat occurring simultaneously. A similar system is used in this instance, as surface and underground battles can and will often occur in tandem. However, a new layer has been added to the mix, in the form of outlying asteroids. Using their considerable mastery of aerial technology, the CorpoNations can take to the skies to establish buildings and units upon some of the asteroids floating above the planet’s surface, whereupon they may also harness solar energy to gradually accumulate a greater supply of Metajoules. Though limitless, this alternative power source is harnessed far slower than the limited lava pools, and only becomes truly effective once a certain percent of the aerial territory can be littered with solar panels. The third layer initially seems like a slightly enhanced version of Earth 2150‘s system, but rapidly proves itself to be a complex addition as you’re forced to manage a series of furious battles on three different levels, managing your resources all the while.
Pages: 1 2 3