As promised, here’s the final review of Blackjacket Studios’ Metal Drift.
Long and short of it, the game’s what you would have if you took Atari 2600 Combat (wow, did I just date myself there), soccer, and Wipeout. Basically, your job is to carry a ball-like thing to the goal without getting all ‘splody. Unfortunately, there are twelve other players hell-bent on making sure you do. Fortunately, you have eleven other players on your side to make sure they don’t. There’s a lot of ammunition thrown around, players juking and trying to grab the ball so they make it to the goal, and occasional powerups that let you survive or do more damage.
Basically, it’s like Congress, only with a high-tech veneer.
But how does it stack up in the end? Read on!
The graphics look great. Even when you seriously blow it.
Seriously, the graphics are slick and well-polished, far more so than for an indie game (where most of them nowadays are permanently stuck in the retro rut, having something with AAA-level graphics is a nice touch.) Even the little details, such as your (virtual) hands moving the HOTAS and turret controls, the contrails for the missiles, the metal plates of the arena, the whole works.
Furthermore, on older systems, it doesn’t seem to put too much of a strain on them. I installed a second copy on a Steam build we have on the kitchen computer (the oldest one in the house, meant for just browsing and kitchen recipes), and it seemed to run without a hitch. I’d love to see how this performs on a Steam Box (if/when Valve gets those out the door.)
Granted, not everything is perfect. Witness this, from the very first time I turned on the game…and all times since:
If there was a game that was meant for consoles, this is it…which is unfortunate, because there’s no option for joypad, steering wheel, joystick, Rock Band guitar or the like. Granted, the controls handle fine (the typical WASD setup, with some extra controls for chat and all your der boomen stuff going on with the mouse), but in this day and age, no pad option is somewhat of a downer.
One thing: you will to get used to running and gunning as fast as you can. During a match a friend of mine who was playing, complained often about the turret and loss of control. Whether that was due to the ping (see below), his unfamiliarity with the game (first time playing), or a glitch previously undiscovered is unsure, but it indicate that straight gunning isn’t going to win you the game very easily.
It would have been much better if the guns autocentered after a few seconds, or if the controls had been less punishing, and hopefully this is something they can fix in a later patch.
The game is responsive. Very responsive. Possibly too responsive, that is, if you’re not used to running and gunning at the same time. You will fall off bridges, bump into walls and other units, there will be recoil and physics is very much in play. I found no glitches or slowdowns at all during gameplay, insofar as mechanics went.
Power management in the game could use some tweaking. The weapon recycles take too long (especially when you’re in the thick of it), and the single power bar has to be responsible for offense, defense and maneuvering. This is a section where the game could use a little more oomph via a fine tuning, and I’m hoping a future patch will take care of that.
As for your opponents (assuming you’re playing against bots), they aren’t of the dumb AI set. They have moves, they know how to run and gun, and each one, from ShazBot to BillBot, has a different “personality” and method of playing, and in many cases, they hunt in wolfpacks – not a good thing to be in the middle of when that happens.
That being said, your allybots are just as smart and will move to defend whoever has the ball (including you, if you have it), so try not to outpace them. There were a few complaints about the AI being too strong, but it’s one of those “different strokes” kinda things. Novice players might do well to switch from Dynamic intelligence to Static.
You also have a variety of offensive (pulse cannons, ion gun, missiles, etc.) and defensive (auto repair, armor, afterburner, etc.) options with which to cover yourself. It’s all a matter of fine tuning your play style and wading out into the battlezone. Keep in mind that using your enhancements (like autorepair) will suck energy needed for afterburners or weapon overcharges.
Dat announcer. Seriously. The announcer makes it all worth the while. You really do feel like you’re in the Global Combat League (or whatever it’s called, maybe NASCAR on STEROIDS!), getting ready to face off against your cross-town (city, nation, world?) rivals. The scoreboard’s running, the flags are flying, the crowds are cheering (better be some force fields to protect them!) and the announcer’s chattering about…ads? Yeah, ads! Granted, they’re just shout-outs to the dev, engine dev and composer, but still, it’s a nice touch.
Additionally, as mentioned, the cockpit view is also good, and I think works much better than if the game had been a third-person view. You really get the feel of being in the middle of a death-match cum World Cup.
Lastly, you can chat with your teammates (if playing with other humans) via teamspeak or the Steam client (if you’re using the Steam version), which makes for nice tactical planning. There’s no built-in system, and depending on the client used, there may be a performance hit (we didn’t try it with Ventrilo, Raptr or Razer, so caveat emptor there.)
Single player rocks. I leveled fairly quickly, and even though it cycled through the same seven maps, it never felt really repetitive due to the sheer challenge the game gives. Depending on your settings, you’re either Mad Maxing through the whole thing, or playing a one-on-one duel. Anything rolls.
If you’re playing multiplayer, however, you’re best setting up your own server. A friend and I played on the EXTREME EDITION server, and while I was getting pings of 143, he was seeing anywhere from 40 to 800. Obviously your connection counts.
Metal Drift is a solid game, though it could use some tweaks here and there. Hopefully we’ll see that later down the pike, along with DLC, because this is a game that shows a lot of promise.
Metal Drift is available at Steam for $9.99.
Disclosure: Wataridori was given a free copy of the game as part of the #GamesMatter initiative; this should, for all intents and purposes, be treated as a review copy.
An expansion that makes the already problematic Destiny 2 even more bland and uninspiring. Get it if you love Destiny or are a completionist. Otherwise, skip.