If you like intense thought and large manuals to read before you start playing a game, then Wild Metal Country by Gremlin Interactive isn't for you. This is a tank-driving shoot-em-up with a story attached to it; not a lot of story, but lots and lots of action.
In a world far, far away, known as the Tehric solar system, there is a set of planets that were set up years ago by us dumb humans to produce power. However, rather than protect the vital power cores from invaders and intruders, the machines there have gone rogue and decided to wipe out all biological life.
Using one of five types of tank, you must roam these planets and destroy these berserk machines, using mines or the tank's large gun and its smart ammunition. The shells for the gun have their own names and characteristic patterns such as Sniffer, Bouncer, Sprinkler and Drifter. In between eradicating these machines, you must also collect different colored power cubes -- hidden among the barren, steep planetary landscapes -- without getting destroyed.
Your tank is fairly easy to drive with realistic controls for the two tracks that go backwards and forward; the tank turret swivels left and right for firing at the malevolent machines. Holding the fire button down controls the range of your projectiles and that's it! That's all the control and weaponry expertise you need for this fast-moving game.
The graphics of the game are very impressive, especially when you use a 3D graphics card. The accompanying soundtrack also sounds great, almost 3D in its surround, and there is a multi-player mode to keep you on your toes. However, if you play Wild Metal Country in single-player mode all of the time, you may find it a little too repetitive for your liking.
However, this is a fun arcade game, one that you can put down and pick up whenever you fancy a quick blast. You can't exercise the ol' gray matter all of the time.
Graphics: Impressive use of colors, especially in 3D graphics card mode.
Sound: Surround sound effects.
Enjoyment: Arcade style adventure and addictiveness.
Replay Value: Easy to get back into, more fun with several players.
The design of Wild Metal Country is to maneuver your tank through a massive environment collecting colored capsules. However, certain enemy tanks wish to foil your collection task, so they have setup grenade stations and other perils to destroy you! To assist in this task, a wide variety of weapons are at your disposal, the two main weapons being mortars and grenades. If this sounds redundant and tired, that's because it is.
Think Terminal Velocity, now think of it with a slight face-lift and some 3D rendering. Now you have the basic formula behind the graphics of Wild Metal Country. Wild Metal Country supports resolutions up to 1024x768 in 32-bit color and rendering in D3D. Wild Metal Country is mildly appealing visually. The environments are all giant rolling hills with mist depending on what level you're on. The tanks lack any extravagancy and are all painted a tan color with few details on the actual tank. Weapon and explosion effects are well done, huge chunks of flaming debris shower down from exploding tanks and mortar shells poof a massive sonic boom type ring from each impact. The camera could use a good deal of work, typically the action is viewed 3rd person behind the tank. However, when your tank is blasted back to the camera or backs up rapidly, the camera has difficulty resetting itself to behind the tank. One minor annoyance is the HUD system. Due to the oddball system that is chosen, the screen always has junk on it. By junk I mean the directions of all the pods in the level, there are eight or so plus the direction your facing. Its not to detrimental to the game, nonetheless it's a nuisance. One word basically sums up the graphical content of Wild Metal Country - dated.
As I mentioned before, the goal is to collect around eight colored capsules. On paper this might sound somewhat interesting, but in reality it isn't. After all the capsules are collected, you must drive the tank back to a determined teleportation location and beam up for your next mission. The only thing hindering your capture of the capsules are tanks and other various machines driven by the poor AI. The artificial intelligence is so blatantly bad in Wild Metal Country it's astounding the game ever made it to stores. Tanks would fire at me over and over and then suddenly stop shooting at me and go in circles. On other occasions enemy tanks wouldn't even acknowledge my presence and would go about its weird scripted patrolling routine. Most of the time spent in Wild Metal Country isn't actually in combat, it's spent wandering through the massive hills searching for the next capsule. Most of the hills are too steep for you to climb, so you must drive on the ground in a maze-like layout. At least the creators decided to add a little variety to the tanks, in the form of five different tanks each with their own strengths and weaknesses. To continue on the downward spiral that is Wild Metal Country, the game is in such a slow place I caught myself yawning on several occasions. Even the fastest tank was too slow paced for me and the tank felt like it was moving through molasses.
Control is clunky and awkward and moving the turret on the tank can be quirky at times due to the odd setup. As a product of bad turret control, aiming can be near impossible. I used a trial and error process most of the time, due to a lack of a sight or any real indication of where my mortar shell was going. Sound effects are sub par as well, more tiresome clunks and booms spewed from my speakers as I played through the game.
If you couldn't tell by the general tone of my review, I didn't like Wild Metal Country. One day I hope to see a tank game that can compete with Tokyo Tank Wars (arcade tank game), but until now I will continue to plonk down the quarters for tank action at my local arcade.
People who downloaded Wild Metal Country have also downloaded:
Witchaven II: Blood Vengeance, Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior, Wing Nuts: Battle in the Sky, War World: Tactical Combat, William Shatner's TekWar, WarPath, Will Rock, Tanktics
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