Tuesday 21 February 2017

Metal Head (32X review)

Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1995

Metal Head is a first-person mech shooter that's exclusive to the Sega 32X.

There's six stages (with 2-3 missions each) and your objective is to destroy the headquarters of a terrorist organisation. Weapons include Missile Launchers, Float Mines and Lasers, and the game uses texture-mapped polygons to create a fully 3D world that looks impressive for the 32X. However, the frame-rate is low, resulting in severe over-steer on the horizontal axis which can affect your aim. The draw distance is okay, but there are times when you'll take damage despite no enemies being visible on screen. The game is still playable though and there's a simplistic charm to the action as you demolish everything in sight! The mission variety is great, especially when you photograph an enemy hideout and then clear the way so a helicopter can blast open its doors. Other highlights include Stage 3 which requires night vision goggles so you can attempt a sneak attack, and Stage 4 where you endure an enemy onslaught while waiting to blow up an incoming train. Most missions take place outdoors, but the occasional indoor sections are less playable as your movement is temporarily locked when you enter a room, leaving enemies free to fire away! They also feature maze-like layouts, but if your shield depletes to under 50% it's easy to get lost as your HUD starts to malfunction! Perhaps the game's best feature is the ability to purchase new weapons or upgrade existing ones at the end of each stage, as it really helps to increase replayability. The option to switch between six camera angles on the fly is also fantastic and allows players to find the best view to suit their gameplay style.

Metal Head has some technical issues that affect the gameplay, but ultimately its adrenaline-fuelled action, varied missions and interesting weapon upgrade system are great hooks to keep you motivated. It's a unique game in the 32X's library and despite the obvious flaws it's definitely worth a look for fans of early 3D shooters.

Random trivia: The ending hints at a sequel which unfortunately never materialised.

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