PS2 REVIEW: METAL SAGA

What Metal Saga lacks in direction it makes up for in its bizarre sensibility. by Cass Andrusiak

May 5, 2006 - Metal Saga is an interesting game in a Monty-Python kind of way. It's humorous but it lacks structure. It does what it wants to do and you're either along for the ride or you're not. It's like being in the middle of some crazy hippy's acid trip - or in the middle of The Lumberjack sketch, if you catch my drift.

There are so many elements to this game it's hard to keep track of them. What some players may dislike is that nothing in this game relates. It doesn't really make any logical sense and that's both good and bad. As an RPG it really needs some sense of direction. Taken as just a videogame experience, it's got a little bit of everything - but you're not really sure what it all means. The various elements, as fun as they may be are disjointed and there's really not much of an incentive to complete all of the tasks, as I will discuss in greater detail. But if you're looking for "something completely different" then this just might be the game for you. If you're in the right frame of mind it can be more fun than a flying, three-ring circus.

Metal Saga is pure entertainment but it does reach a point of tedium after about 10 hours. The interesting thing about this game is that you can make it last as long as you like or breeze through it incredibly quickly. There are all kinds of tasks that you can perform but you have the right of refusal. You don't have to do anything that you don't want to do. But by accomplishing certain tasks you will earn money which you can use to finance other, more epic undertakings. You will also earn different endings to the story.

Once upon a time, in the very near future, there was a computer named Noah. It was built to deal with the problem of pollution on the planet. As a very intelligent piece of machinery, Noah went about solving the problem by going straight to the source - humans. By obliterating the human race there would be no more pollution. So that's just what Noah did. Now the Earth is a barren wasteland that looks as though it had experienced a nuclear war. Only a few humans survived the onslaught of machines and monsters. Their only means to survival was to cultivate a hunter/gatherer existence as they salvage scraps of machinery and technology and hunt for food and enemies that have a bounty on their head. The storyline is obviously influenced by the Road Warrior/Mad Max series.

In the role of a young hunter you accept or refuse missions that involve bounty hunting. During these adventures you will not only be on the lookout for your victim but also for items that you can collect and bring back to the village to sell for money. You will also receive cash for your bounty hunting efforts. The more coin that you amass, the better your standing in the community and the more money you can earn as a result of purchasing upgrades for your weapons and vehicles.

The characters that you meet in these games and some of the circumstances that you will find yourself in can be totally ridiculous - but in a good way. There is plenty of adult-based, low brow humor that is sure to elicit a few good guffaws. And then there are some downright strange characters such as Klepto Cobain who talks in a cryptic manner using nothing but Nirvana lyrics as a base for his lexicon.

Vehicles play a very large role in the game. Not only do they get you across the barren landscape in record time, and cut down on the boring wandering so prominent in classic RPGs, but they can also be outfitted with various weapons that you will use for combat. The combat is turn-based but it's actually quite exciting. It's not very deep but it's accessible and quick. You can have up to three characters in your party. They will travel with you either on foot or in vehicles. It's best to have a mechanic on hand to help fix your vehicle. When attacked, you will begin to lose armor tiles that are used to protect your vehicle. When they are all destroyed you will begin to take on damage. This isn't good since vehicles are very important for your continued success. You can have the damaged vehicle towed away for repairs or have one of your mechanic party members do the repairs for you on sight. Just like everything in real life, it's going to cost you.

Metal Saga can be a real lesson in economics. Depending on how much damage you sustain and how much your repair bill is, you might not break even on some missions, even if you do complete them successfully. You will continually upgrade your vehicle, adding new weapons and even frivolous things like paint jobs which will cost you. As with everything in this game, you will start at the bottom of the scrap heap with a beater that you have to scrounge from salvage and build it up to suit your needs. There are three different weapon types that you can add to your mobile death rig. The sub-gun is used for short-range combat. It has unlimited ammo. The other gun is long-range but it requires ammunition. The SE weapon is a specialty gun that can shoot down flying bots and kill other equally strange creatures.

The anime artwork is not of exceptional quality. It looks more like a budget game. The main characters are much too young in my opinion for any gamers in their 20s and beyond to give a rat's ass about. I think the developers might have made a mistake by putting kids in the role of the main characters. Considering the adult-oriented humor and situations, more mature-looking characters would have been much more believable and wouldn't potentially alienate any demographic.

The music can be corny but it's lighthearted and fun. Some of the voiceacting is equally cornball but it doesn't seem so out of place since the game doesn't take itself very seriously in the first place. It's sometimes hard to tell what's intentional and what's a joke.

With such a variety of things to do in Metal Saga, it's definitely worth a rental. You can spend as much time with it as you like. You can't say that about other RPGs. If you find that you really like it, buy it. If not, return it. Either way you're bound to get your money's worth out of it.

Features:

  • A full-scale RPG that offers unprecedented freedom: Travel across a war-torn world with over 800 events and quests, providing 40+ hours of gameplay!
  • Each battle is an arms race you don't want to lose: Use your personal arsenal, unleash the dogs of war, or hop in a tank!
  • Take control of a wide variety of customizable vehicles: Customize the look of your vehicles by adding new weapons, engines and armor!
  • Collect and create your own items: Create powerful weapons and vehicle parts from the materials you gather throughout the game!Test your luck and skill in 12 mini-games: Earn valuable money and items!

By Cass Andrusiak
CCC Freelance Writer

Rating out of 5
Metal Saga (PS2)
3.0
Graphics
The anime graphics look dated. I'm not a big fan of having the main characters look like they've just reached puberty.
4.1
Control
There is lots to do in this game but the controls are very simple and responsive for each different task.
3.8
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
There's lot of good laughs to be had, from the dialog to the music. I believe that most of it is intentional.
4.0
Play Value
The game can last you about 40 hours. How much more do you expect?
3.8
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
 
System: PS2
Dev: Crea-Tech
Pub: Atlus
Release: Apr 2006
Players: 1
Review by Cass

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best