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Metal Arms: Glitch in the System
Graphics: 4.8
Gameplay: 4
Sound: 5
Control: 4
Replay Value: 3.5
Rating: 4.1

Metal Arms: Glitch in the System is an action-platformer from developer Swinginí Ape, or at least theyíve got one of the four different logos you need to sit through as the game boots up. Swinginí Ape is a development group who is comprised of many of the people who created Hydro Thunder, a tremendously popular arcade boat racing game about five years ago. Anyways, Glitch in the System follows the adventures of a robot named Glitch, who after being found by other robots amongst some rubble is thrust into a rebellion. Glitch doesnít know his past, but since his planet is being taken over by the Evil General Corrosive, Glitch fights to the death.

Glitch is bad game, and itís a bad game for a bevy of reasons, the first of which is that itís unoriginal. A lot of the game was clearly inspired by Ratchet and Clank, and it borrows from it to the point that itís absurd. For example, instead of nuts, you collect washers, and instead of having to walk over each one, they gravitate towards you, just like in Ratchet and Clank. Hmmm, Iíve seen that before. You can also purchase upgradeable weapons from people scattered through out the game. Ring any more bells? The game also tries the now tired ďlooks like a kidís game, but is sassy for adultsĒ thing and the humor really falls flat.

Metal Arms also has a number of technical flaws that keep it from being even tolerable. Key amongst these is its horrendous aiming system. Everyone knows that aiming in third person shooters isnít the easiest thing, but somehow the fellas at Swinginí Ape found a way to make it even more frustrating. Your aiming cursor will turn red when youíve found a target, but instead of locking on it just sits there, so by the time you fire, the target has moved. This means you usually end up in a firefight with one of the gameís moronic robots from about two feet away since thatís the only way you can hit them. Itís also way too easy to shoot the ground in the game and never even realize that youíre doing it. This is particularly a problem when you are on a ledge trying to shoot down. The aiming cursor looks like youíre shooting something, but then you look down and youíre just shooting the ground Ė itís quite frustrating.

The game also has objectives that are difficult to figure out, or are just plain boring. Youíll run from room to room shooting endless bad guys while searching for a switch to hit or something to blow up. One of the gameís touted features is your ability to hack into some of the opposing robots. This allows you to control them to blow other stuff up Ė itís kind of a cool idea, but canít make up for the rest of the game. The multi-player doesnít really add too much value to the game since itís based on a flawed game and there are dozens of better multi-player titles out for the system.

The fact that many of the rooms look the same doesnít help matters any either. The rooms often have several doors that look similar, and no real markings to distinguish one area from the other. Of particular note is the second level, which takes place in caves that are dark, winding and really easy to get lost in. Once lost, youíll get blown away by a million droids that all look the same, and youíll start over only to start over and do it again and then start over and do it again and then start over and do it again. Thankfully checkpoints are plentiful which is good because you will die a lot.

As mentioned earlier, the gameís characters are all pretty boring and uninteresting looking; and this translates over to the levels. The camera also seems to be a little too close to the main character, which makes it difficult to see whatís going on in front of you, because you to have to stop in the middle of a fight to look around and figure out where you need to go. The gameís framerate is also miserable, as it slows to a crawl when the action gets even a little hectic.

The sound effects are well done, but they are a bit over the top. Itís often times so loud that you wonít be able to hear what your orders for each area are, and since there isnít a way to go back and see what you need to do, you end up wandering around aimlessly. The voice acting isnít bad, and some of the humor is pretty funny, but thereís nothing particularly noteworthy in the sound department.

Metal Arms is an unoriginal game that fails to improve on any of the games it emulates. Itís just another game in a long line of ďme tooĒ cookie-cutter platformers that fills the stores around Christmas time. I tried to like the game and gave up on it. I came back, left, and came back again and I just couldnít find anything good about it. Wait till itís in the bargain bin before you check it out, or you can rent it, but donít expect much.

12/8/2003   Aaron Thomas