Yes you heard it right! Not only fight with these bad boys, but now you can design and build your own Mechs to play with. Plus, the ability to steal technology from your opponents and apply to your Mechs makes Metal Fatigue a winner. These are just a few of the things that make Metal Fatigue stand out from the vast armada of "Real time strategy" games to flood the market in the past months.
The premise of this latest release from TalonSoft is the conquest of the latest ‘new’ planet to be discovered with vast quantities of resources that the three reigning corporations (yes another corporation ruled future scenario) Rim Tech, Mil-Agro and Neuropa need.
The twist here is that the forces from each of the combatants are commanded by one of the Angelus brothers! All three, the pride of Rim Tech, were initially sent down to explore this new planet – and then Jonus discovered more than abundant resources – examples of Hedoth technology far beyond what the CorpoNations currently had. Immediately, the dastardly Mil-Agro sent in an attack squad that nearly killed Stephan, the youngest. Jonus and Diego, the oldest split with one defecting to Neuropa while the other stayed with Rim Tech. Meanwhile the nasty Mil-Agro took Stphan back to their home base and nursed him back to health and with the proper ‘mental conditioning’ he now fights for Mil-Agro. And this is just the introduction. Now you get to take on the persona of one of the brothers and try and find this new Hedoth technology for your CorpoNation. Sounds a bit like Days of Our Lives in space.
A lot of what you get with Metal Fatigue, has come to be standard fare for real time strategy games:
a multitude of different buildings to build;
resources (metajoules in this case) to harvest;
ground combat units to build for the defense of your holdings and the conquest of your neighbor’s holdings;
technology trees for improvement of your weaponry – multiplayer options.
But, this is where the similarity ends. Enter the Combots! These are the huge Mechs that you build in multiple buildings and assemble together with a crew to carry the fight to the enemy. On top of this you get to fight on THREE planes at once. Air – surface and underground caverns all form the battlefield for this unique entry into the crowded ‘real time strategy’ arena! The air, ground and underground nature of the combat takes a little getting used to, but the interface provides a clear way of identifying just where the latest conflict is flaring.
As has become more normal with TalonSoft releases, the manual that comes with the game provides a very good insight into just how you control all the assets in the game. The interface is explained in sufficient detail to allow you to start fighting with a minimal amount of referencing back to it while in game, and this is only during the first few battles. After this you will have become familiar with the interface and can use it to research, design and build your forces of destruction while concentrating on stemming the flow of enemy units coming at you.
They even threw in a few neato new things (well new to me at least) like the mobile walls. I loved these guys. After being built, not only can you build various weapons onto them, but they can be moved to form contiguous walls (initially they are built and look like individual towers). After building a second one, if you click on it, green patterns will form around the first or other nearby towers, showing possible locations to move the current tower to. When it completes movement to one of these locations a wall is formed between the towers that needs to be destroyed to by the enemy before they can move past it.
Other factors of the interface are standard for games of this type. Click on the constructor units – hover tanks – and the allowable buildings are displayed for you to pick from. Click on a building to determine if it can build or research something and to tell its state of repairs. Click on units to activate them and tell them where to go and what to do, and the click and drag to pick up multiple units at once (normally combat units). Combat groups are supported for ease of combat and battle reports tell you where the current active areas are. Moving from air to ground to underground is easy and the relative location of the current view will stay the same upon these movements. So if you are currently showing an elevator to the underground on the screen and you click on the underground, the result will put you underground showing the base of this elevator. As has been said, the interface becomes quite familiar and easy to use after a couple of scenarios.
Another thing I really liked was that the resource pools will regenerate a little, over time, allowing you to draw more from deposits that have been exhausted. This was VERY helpful in my early missions. Like when I found that my Combots could not go underground and that the enemy had built many structures and vehicles that I needed to destroy to gain victory down there. I had nearly exhausted the resources on the surface as I built a veritable horde of Combots to do my destroying. The metajoules that regenerated were enough for me to establish a base underground, and find additional resource sources to finish my conquest of the enemy base of operations.
Metal fatigue is a game that looks nice and plays well – a combination that is sometimes hard to find in a world where sometimes the game engine becomes more important than its playability. Metal Fatigue is a truly enjoyable game to play and has earned four GiN gems from this reviewer and will, most likely stay on my hard drive for quite awhile.