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Metal Arms: Glitch in the System Package Art
Swingin' Ape Studios
VU Games

Metal Arms: Glitch in the System

Lately, gamers have been treated to a number of pleasant surprises. Normally, we call these titles "sleeper" hits. After so many sleepers in the past couple of months alone including EA Games' Freedom Fighters and VU Games' own Simpsons: Hit and Run, it's hard to accept anything sleepy about the latest title put out by VU Games and Sierra. Metal Arms: Glitch in the System is a welcome addition to a crowded shooter genre. We've been treated to many third-person shooting titles in the past year, but nothing beats what Metal Arms has to offer. Obviously, the tense, wild action is present and there's plenty of mechanical violence to go around. What sets this title apart, however, is the amount of character that developer Swingin' Ape Studios brings to the game. With an excellent sense of humor and brilliant writing, Metal Arms is a unique experience even when it shares many play mechanics with past shooting titles.


Everything looks great in Metal Arms, from the environments to the character design. This definitely provides a glimmer of hope for rising developers, since Swingin' Ape Studios had complete control over the development of the game engine. The developer brings several veteran programmers and designers to the table, and it shows in the amount of detail they've brought to a shooting game. It would seem difficult to bring level variety on a planet comprised entirely of scrap metal, but they've certainly done it in this game. From the swamp-infested wastelands to the vibrant city of Droid Town, everything here has been given delicate care and a focus on metallic detail.

The character design is even better than the level design with memorable characters such as the hero, Glitch, and his early buddies Screwed and Hosed, two of the greatest character names of all time. Other characters include Krunk, the surly, sailor-mouthed mechanic, and Mozer, a bumbling behemoth with self-esteem issues. Each character here is simple, but still filled with life and surprises, like the heart-warming moment the first time you hear a cute little robot say the F-word. The only problem spot worth mentioning lies in the animations, which are certainly not as polished as they could have been. While great, they could definitely have used a bit more work in the transitions. Glitch can be running, jumping and firing simultaneously, and it looks as if he's floating on thin air the whole time. While it's acceptable in some cases, there's easily some moments where it stands out and becomes annoying.


While Metal Arms features some well-produced sound effects, it's still easily the quietest shooter we've played all year. Explosions can be seen about 40 yards in front of your character and all you'll hear is silence. There's little to no ambient noise through each environment and the musical selection is limited to nil. Most of the music won't kick in until you're well on your way into a shootout, which is about 85% of the game. However, it's hard to appreciate any amount of the musical stylings found in the game while you're busting skulls 24/7. All complaints aside, the production quality of the sounds themselves is excellent. Explosions and gunfire are amazing and easily some of the best found in a title that hasn't been given to us by production giant EA Games. The voice acting is a pleasant addition as well, benefiting from some great comedic talent and a brilliant script. This amount of dedication to the comedic pace brings an amount of life to this game that hasn't been found in any other shooter this year.


The play mechanics in Metal Arms are easily adaptable and don't really require any amount of practice. Once you get the hang of Glitch's simplistic controls, you'll be well on your way to destroying dozens of villainous bots. The main problem with Glitch's controls is the troublesome task of aiming. The default look sensitivity is a bit too, well sensitive. It's easy to adjust this option to your liking however, and is more of a pet peeve than an actual complaint. Otherwise, it's very simple to maneuver Glitch around each environment and perform the small amount of platform jumping that is required. The default control scheme is a bit different from anything else you may have played, but that is adjustable as well.

Aside from the controls, the basic premise of the gameplay found in Metal Arms is to blast everything in your way to itty-bitty bits of scrap on your way to your final destination. Glitch has access to an ever-growing number of weapons, starting with his in exaustable mining tool, and moving on to other weapons of mass destruction, including a scatter gun, a rocket launcher, and a rivet gun. Each weapon is upgradeable and this little twist on the genre adds some flair that was found in Insomniac's Ratchet and Clank on the PS2. There are also other missions that break up what little monotony there is. Glitch can control a RAT, which is an all terrain vehicle that just happens to have a heavy machine gun mounted on top. He can also rampage through hordes of enemies as Mozer.


Two to four players can duke it out in several different gameplay modes, either all-for-one or team matches in deathmatch, capture the flag, king of the hill, tag, etc. It plays out pretty much like any other shooter multiplayer except you obviously get to use your hacking skills in order to take over other droids or take your turn on a few of the available vehicles. The maps work nicely and there are several unlockable maps as well. If you're looking for a good multiplayer, this game has it, but don't expect Halo or Smash Bros.


Metal Arms: Glitch in the System is one of the most pleasant surprises of the year. It may not be as in-depth and dramatic as EA Games' Freedom Fighters, but it still holds up nicely in the entertainment department. It looks great, was built on its own engine and deserves all of the praise it's been given. You'll probably find another game that has the amount of robotic destruction and mayhem found here, but I highly doubt it. All complaints aside, this is a game you can easily sit down and play through from start to finish and feel an accomplishment before moving on to your next game. There's plenty of those types of games that have been released this holiday season and you should certainly keep your eyes on Metal Arms. Check it out. You'll never have more fun playing with nuts and bolts

final score 8.5/10

Staff Avatar Austin Starr
Staff Profile | Email
"If life's not beautiful without the pain / well I'd just rather never ever even see beauty again"

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