Published on August 28th, 2013 | by Donald Borenstein0
MetalWars 3 Review
MetalWars 3 came into my life at a time where I was more likely than ever to cut it a little slack by the sole merit of being a game about mechs. I’ve seen Pacific Rim twice this summer, and I’ve been watching a lot of Mobile Suit Gundam, so I’m certainly in a mech-happy mood. In fact, it’d take an outright insulting game to get anything less than like a 2.5 at this point. I mean, this game looks like it could be some guilty pleasure fun, right?
MetalWars 3 is a game where you pilot a mech and blow other mechs and robots up. That’s it. The story is practically non-existent, and objectives are only explained in bland introductory sequences. This wouldn’t be a problem if the garden-variety third person combat was even remotely enjoyable. The gameplay is marred by finicky controls, as the standard virtual twin-analog approach works as intended about half the time. The iron sight function is astonishingly unhelpful, and the controls alternate at will between being overly sensitive and unresponsive. Any potentially good ideas, such as the need to balance depleting weapons and booster energy with the slow movement speed of your mech, are spoiled by poor enemy design. The opposing army seems to have been amassed through a liberal use of the copy/paste function, and each enemy behaves accordingly. The game never feels legitimately challenging in any satisfying way, yet you will die constantly, thanks to cheap-shot abilities employed by the various off-brand approximations of Metal Gear Rex and ED-209 you encounter throughout the game.
Aesthetically speaking, this game lacks any style to speak of, as the models and maps can’t even pull off a bargain-bin imitation of Halo‘s militaristic sci-fi palette. Everything looks decent if you aren’t paying attention, but with the slightest scrutiny, the game’s low-res textures rear their ugly head. The background music is initially inoffensive, but it doesn’t take long to become grating and repetitive. The sound effects are hilariously bad, as gunfire ends up sounding like a defective lawnmower. Some of you reading this review may think that the game’s hilariously haphazard translation job and its lackluster appearance all lay down the foundations for an EDF 2017 style camp classic. But whereas EDF has some of the most fantastic over-the-top, grand-scale action of any game in recent memory, any fun that MW3 might accidentally provide is marred by the blandest combat this side of Urban Champion. On the bright side, the HUD is almost functional, with the only flaw being the complete lack of a pause button or in-level menu feature on a mobile game.
The inability to pause gameplay in order to re-examine your life choices is merely one of many ways in which MetalWars 3 feels incomplete. The maps all feel empty and generic, and for the most part, enemy waves are small and unsatisfying. Not every game setting has to be lush and overstimulating, but in this case the barren levels are more indicative of developer incompetence than any conscious aesthetic choice.
The only thing here that seems remotely premeditated is the upgrades system. In theory, the game’s robust upgrade tree should offer a wide variety of customization and playstyle variation. It’s incredibly complex, with multiple types of upgrades that force players to make tough decisions when it comes to researching or purchasing new weapons for yourself or your A.I. partner. Instead, it serves as a sinister means of player extortion, barring off meaningful and necessary upgrades with exceptionally high XP and Gold costs, to the point where avoiding in-app purchases is extraordinarily difficult for those who wish to actually complete the game—a game that, may I remind you, already costs $1.99 up front. It is possible to earn upgrades by playing through the campaign, but it takes playing through four or five levels at a time to get enough for a single upgrade at the beginning, and it gets worse as the game goes on.
Technically speaking, you get a lot of “value” for your $1.99, should you be strong willed enough to resist shelling out at least four times as much in IAPs to make the game vaguely enjoyable. The campaign is lengthy, to ensure you have a week of bathroom visits filled with even more frustration and pointless obstruction than normal. There’s also an unlockable horde-style mode called infinity, but it lacks the one positive element of the campaign—the fact each mission has completable objectives, and thus a faint glimmer of hope that you may someday escape this Sisyphean hell and leave behind all your tortured memories of this game*.
MetalWars 3 might have the foundations of a good game buried somewhere amongst its sparse wastelands and its endless grind of destroying the same waves of identical dim-witted enemies, in the same way that Jimmy Hoffa’s body has to be buried somewhere. In either case, please call me when you find it. Were MW3 merely content on being a boring game, it would receive a slightly higher score, as I suppose mere functionality itself merits points, like writing one’s name on the SAT. As such, Goorusoft, I’d like to offer a quote you can feel free to display on the page for the game: “In six out of ten cases, MetalWars 3 WON’T make your smartphone burst into flames!”**
However, Metal Wars 3 is not content with generic ineptitude. This game outright bullies its players into making in-app purchases by slowing the upgrade system down to a crawl, while ramping up the difficulty of its monotonous gameplay at a highly disproportionate rate. When I think about the time I spent grinding through this game to completion without giving in to Goorusoft’s extortion racket, I lament my quickly fading youth, and the wasted hours spent trying to simply play this game that I theoretically already owned.
It’s a shame to see this kind of title fail to deliver on its potential. The only thing holding MetalWars 3 back is nearly every fundamental design decision in the game.
*On the bright side, MetalWars 3 makes for a great gift to give the brooding French existentialist in your life, as it is one of the most prescient (accidental) meditations on the futility of existence I’ve ever played.
Is it Hardcore?
Summary: More boring than listening to Ben Stein read the phonebook, more grating than an all-tin-whistle symphony performed by fourth graders, and more evil in its IAP scheme than even the best EA can muster. Please don't buy this game.