A Little More Than You Paid For
If you’re a skilled gamer but a slow reader, then it’s entirely possible it will take you longer to read this review than it will to play this game. Seriously. But at five bucks, I shouldn’t complain so loudly. So, since we don’t have time to waste, allow me to explain the game in one sentence: Metal Torrent is a classic, arcade-style space shooter where waves of enemies rain missiles at your ship, continually increasing in numbers and difficulty through each successive level. That’s it in a nutshell. Add in the requisite boss battles, power-ups, and combos and you’ve got yourself a decent little game.
Metal Torrent does the arcade shooter genre proud, but it’s more of an appetizer than a main course. It really leaves you wanting more, and that’s a bad thing because at about an hour, Metal Torrent is more mini than maxi. When I say an hour, I’m talking about an average gamer completing all modes and difficulty levels. I should clarify that the two modes are polar opposites, extremely easy and extremely difficult, nothing in between. With that said, it’s possible that a newbie could spend a few weeks trying to get through the difficult mode, but I did say “average gamer,” and the average newbie will not spend more than fifteen minutes in the Maniac mode before calling it quits. The hardcore “bullet hell” enthusiast can expect to clear all eight levels in about an hour.
The online component of Metal Torrent is nothing more than a leaderboard, where you can pit your score against the world. There are plenty of players online, and plenty of good ones to boot. So the challenge is there, should you choose to accept it. And that’s what will make or break this game for you, as the desire to compete against your last score, and those of players around the world, is the only motivation that will reap you any replay value. If you want to train to become a better player, playing short, repetitive sessions over the course of weeks or months makes this a bit like a Brain Age space shooter.
There’s no voiceovers, no cutscenes, no annoying anime kids, and no storyline. I like that. But it appears the developers have cut more than just the crap; they’ve removed the intestines, stomach, lungs, and heart as well. The lack of any middle difficulty is a puzzling omission. It makes this game less accessible to virtually all gamers. Depending on your ability, it’s either too easy or too difficult. Deploying the Red Orion ship is like being on a hockey team with a thousand-pound goalie, you just can’t lose. But keep in mind you’re not really winning while those training wheels are on. Your blast radius is wide, your weapons are more powerful and your ship can take lots and lots of hits before it destructs. Taking control of the Blue Nova after your fifteen minutes of fame with the Orion is nothing short of a rude awakening. There’s a reason why it’s called the Maniac level.
So far we know there are two ships to choose from, each being pelted by a “metal torrent” of bullets and missiles from an ever-increasing fleet of enemies. What you probably don’t know is that the game is a vertical-scroller, not a side-scroller; think Galaga, 1942, or Space Invaders. Shooting from bottom to top, the screen fills with massive, colorful projectiles in seconds. Fortunately, when using the red ship you can eliminate the bullets from the screen when there are too many to dodge. Not only that, but the bullets change into cubes which you can collect to recharge your health and energy meters.
Each ship has primary and secondary weapon systems. You’ll button mash the hell out of the main weapon with reckless abandon, because the ammo and energy is unlimited. The secondary weapon is basically a screen clearer, but it steals energy from your meter. But as long as you collect the cubes from destroyed ships and bullets, your powers will be rejuvenated. It’s really a no-lose situation.
When it comes to the Blue Nova, practice makes perfect, but the extreme difficulty differential will ensure most newbies will give up in frustration before they can cultivate the patience to learn through experience. With the Blue Nova you’re going to literally have to up your game. Your kill radius with the laser is a thin line. Contact with bullets and enemy ships will kill you instantly, and there is no screen-clearing special attack. Some strategy will enter into the gameplay as you decide when to use your secondary laser weapon and when to conserve energy. You can select between random and programmed modes, but if you think you’re going to memorize the enemy’s attack pattern, you had better think again. Things move so fast and frantically with the blue ship that it was virtually impossible to tell what mode I was in.
Metal Torrent comes across as a state-of-the-art space shooter, with colorful graphics, 3D backgrounds, and truly satisfying explosions. You won’t have a problem identifying your ship amidst the torrent of metal. The backgrounds contain futuristic architecture perfectly suited for the genre, but there are only three different stages and none are interactive. The range of movement of your ship is limited to up and down and side-to-side, but that’s all you need to dodge incoming flak. Commands are smoothly and accurately executed.
Musically, the game favors an industrial ambient soundtrack that tends to drone, but it eventually assimilates into background noise; so you don’t really get sick of it, at the expense of being unmemorable.
The best thing that I can say about Metal Torrent is that it’s a great space shooter with a huge bite taken out of the middle.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.8 Graphics
Nice, futuristic architecture, but there are only three levels. 4.0 Control
Precise control system with limited commands. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Sound effects could use some variation. Background music is appropriate but forgettable. 2.0
Far too short. Very little lasting value.
2.9 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.