Metal Wolf Chaos. Despite never reaching Western shores, this rare Japanese exclusive Xbox game, developed by FromSoftware, has garnered quite a cult following in North America over the years thanks to a variety of let’s plays and speedruns.
While this comically patriotic third-person shooter was originally intended to be released worldwide, FromSoft halted Metal Wolf’s localization early on and the game failed to meet sales expectations in the Japanese market upon release. However, with help from indie superstar studio, Devolver Digital, and porting from General Arcade, this game has a second lease on life with the release of its new HD remaster, Metal Wolf Chaos XD.
Set at the end of the first quarter of the 21st century, America is in turmoil after Vice President, Richard Hawk, launches a coup d’état to rid the United States of its freedoms and remake the nation is his ideal image. Who else better to take America back from coast-to-coast then someone who believes in his own justice, the 47th President of the USofA himself, Michael Wilson. Donning a top-secret mech suit armed to the teeth with enough firepower to destroy virtually anything in his sight, this President isn’t giving up America without a fight.
This absurd premise is just the tip of the iceberg of what makes Metal Wolf Chaos so memorable. By today’s narrative standards, Metal Wolf Chaos’ campaign should be a pile of trash. It has some of the most cringey voice acting and line delivery in a game to date, disjointed dialogue, forced American pop-culture references that are extremely outdated and a villain so evil in nature it’s astonishing he was ever chosen to be the Vice President in the first place when he laughs like a deranged serial killer. What more can I say, Metal Wolf is pure comedic genius. By mixing together some of the most over-the-top anime-inspired action cutscenes with a story filled with parodies and satire for American culture Metal Wolf Chaos XD had me bursting out in laughter all throughout the campaign and it was a treat to finally experience it myself.
Metal Wolf Chaos may be best well known for its hilarious story, but that doesn’t mean its gameplay is any less bombastic. Inspired heavily by FromSoftware’s previous titles, Armored Core and Otogi, Metal Wolf Chaos feels like an arcade shooter hybrid of these two action games that encourage players to embrace their newly acquired power-armoured fantasy and cause as much destruction as possible. Before every mission, players get the opportunity to outfit Metal Wolf with up to eight weapons of their choice on its two shoulder-mounted weapon racks. With a massive arsenal of over 100 weapons to develop, a lot of the fun of Metal Wolf Chaos is building and experimenting with all of the different combinations of weapons players can have at their disposal. Weapons can range from traditional armaments like shotguns and assault rifles, but when it’s time to go big, bust out a huge railgun, a couple of homing missile launchers, or even some Gatling guns to mow down all the mobs of enemies standing in your way of liberating America. If all else fails, activate your super attack and watch as Metal Wolf uses every weapon in its racks at once to melt enemies and bosses alike in a matter of seconds.
While ultimately every mission in Metal Wolf Chaos XD can be boiled down to destroying multiple targets or areas, the variety of bosses and their unique abilities shake things up nicely. In one mission Players will be racing through Alcatraz, destroying the energy tanks they discover along the way, before they blow up the massive laser cannon mounted atop the prison, while later on players will have to take on the “Fight House”, stripping it of all its weapons while trying to keep the iconic White House underneath completely intact. Sadly, there are only 14 missions available in Metal Wolf Chaos, meaning players will easily beat the game within a mere couple of hours. However, the arcade nature of these levels heavily promotes replayability, rewarding players with new difficulty levels, cosmetics and other hidden unlockables.
Performance-wise, General Arcade has done a good job bringing Metal Wolf Chaos into the modern age for the PC. The game now supports a 16:9 aspect ratio, resolutions up to 4K and there’s even a new autosave system implemented so players don’t have to worry about losing their progress unlike in the original. The largest benefit of Metal Wolf Chaos finally leaving the Xbox exclusive vault is that the constant frame rate drops of the original, caused by too much destruction on screen at once, are finally gone on modern-day hardware. Any current day machine should be able to run the game with ease and achieve more than acceptable frame rates. Other than these additions, Metal Wolf Chaos XD is the exact same game released on the original Xbox in 2004 and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD is the definition of a cult classic video game. While nothing the game does could ever be considered truly exceptional or innovative, somehow all of its absurd elements have combined to create something truly memorable that people have been clamouring to play for years. Fans no longer have to scour the deep trenches of eBay for a copy worth over $150+, the definitive release of Metal Wolf Chaos is finally here on Western shores.