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Metal Fatigue

by Kristopher H.

HEY EVERYBODY!!! LOOKOUT!!! Its another RTS!!! Ok you don't have to actually look out for it, but yes Metal Fatigue is yet another RTS released this summer and you don't all have to jump up at once in excitement. Metal Fatigue draws a lot of its style from anime and for those who don't know, anime is a form of very unique, sometimes sophisticated, cartoon animation, followed almost religiously in Japan (ie Pokemon). This game adds nothing extraordinarily unique to the RTS genre, instead using what is becoming the norm - the third dimension. Its not graphics intensive, allowing playability on a wide scale, involves a decent story and attempts to deliver a high margin of replay ability.

It is set in the future where man has technologically evolved to a point where people travel to other worlds and three factions once allied in the cause of searching out left behind alien technology, are now in a war against one another. These factions use "Combots" as their main battling ingredient-huge robots equipped with a human crew, and armed with Katana Swords, Energy Cannons, Rocket Torsos etc.- all in a bid for power.

Like most other RTS's the strategy is to build, collect resources, build some more, and then kill your enemy. Here, resources called 'MetaJoules' are collected from energy generated by nearby lava pools. These pools can be found both above and below ground. At high altitudes solar panels can be deployed and even manpower is an available resource. Manpower is easily managed by building more Cryofarms, (buildings with frozen dudes ready for battle). Crews can die but if your able to keep them around long enough they'll have added experience bonus which makes them and their Bots a little more efficient. With Buildings and Vehicle upgrades they'll produce quicker, and have better armour / firepower.

The uniqueness of the game is centred around the Combots themselves and their ability to be customized. A player can select what torso, arms, and legs they wish to equip their metal giant with allowing them to create an effective defence or offence, depending on what the enemy uses most. For example, if the enemy concentrates on flying forces then a combot equipped with a rocket torso can easily bring down anything in the skies. Not only can the combots be customized while being built, but can also change components mid battle-such as throwing away a damaged or destroyed arm and picking one up off the ground from an enemy or unfortunate comrade. The Combots are the essential part of the game, making the smaller offensive, defensive units almost useless. Actually, not only useless but downright annoying. They can easily get in the way of a group of combots and impede their travels. It seems they may have been added as a way to make the game look like there is a lot of stuff blowing up when they are being obliterated by opposing forces, but they are useful for the underground level of the game where combots can't fit. That's right, undergroundů'ooooh'.

Not only does a player have to contend with ground warfare, but there is also underground and high altitude warfare as well. A drilling machine creates an elevator along with tunnels, which the small forces can enter in order to gather resources or burrow under an enemy's base. In general, it's not terribly unlike Earth 2150. If you encounter the enemy doing the same thing you can have little battles underground too!!! At high altitudes you'll find yourself on an asteroid like platform where the construction of your air force is maintained.

As is the becoming norm for the RTS Genre, Metal Fatigue makes use of the third dimension. Buildings, combots, terrain, and other vehicles of war are all generated in 3D and can be seen from a variety of angles. The camera views allow for a topological and isometric view, with the ability to rotate around an object and zoom in to witness the extent of the battle. It's pretty cool watching a combot hack off another's arm!! Control of the camera is pretty simple as well. You can scroll around with mouse or cursor key, PgUp/PgDown will flip you between the 3 levels of play, and a few number keys control the angle, rotation and zoom of the view you want.

I mentioned earlier that this game is not graphics intense. It isn't. This is something I kind of like to see because it allows the majority of people who don't have the 'gaming resources' needed to play intensive graphical games, to play this one. Don't get me wrong though, Metal Fatigue's graphics are adequate and can be pumped up a little in the resolution and detail options. The cut scenes aren't of the greatest quality but tell the beginning story line well and demonstrate the awesome force of Combots. The sounds are what you would expect with tanks and explosions, with the added clunking, grinding, stomping sounds of the big bad metal monsters. Also the 3 factions seem to have their own styles of background music which isn't half-bad either.

An area, which is sometimes missed and/or hard to diagnose, is the AI. It's been said the Metal Fatigue AI is pretty smart during a battle - never attacking you the same way twice. And when in skirmish mode you can choose from a variety of "AI Generals" to fight against. Whether or not this is true about the AI I have no clue - all I know is I was getting my ass kicked a lot of the time. Pathfinding was also an issue that seemed frustrating at times, but it didn't present itself to be a huge problem in the smaller battles.

* Echoing Voice * IN CONCLUSION - I like Metal Fatigue. It has its flaws like every game out there, it's simple to use and control, adequate graphics, sounds, 3d control and the use of Combots and Levels all appeal to moi. It has a skirmish mode as well as multiplay, which is good to have once you finish all the missions for each faction. The tutorial actually helps you get started by giving you an overview of the 1st three missions, what the story is, and even some hints and tips. So I therefore bequeath it a mark of 75%. However, hardcore RTSers may find this game just doesn't cut it.


FINAL MARK

the three levels of gameplay are pretty cool, but generally nothing new.

Combot construction is a neat idea along with picking up old pieces from other destroyed combots.

Decent enough AI, but the pathfinding could use some work in battles with large groups.

75%