Metal Arms: Glitch in the System Review
Metal Arms: Glitch in the System is an action-platformer from developer Swingin' Ape, or at least they've got one of the four different logos you need to sit through as the game boots up. Swingin' 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 doesn't 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 it's a bad game for a bevy of reasons, the first of which is that it's unoriginal. A lot of the game was clearly inspired by Ratchet and Clank, and it borrows from it to the point that it's 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, I've 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 "looks like a kid's game, but is sassy for adults" 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 isn't the easiest thing, but somehow the fellas at Swingin' Ape found a way to make it even more frustrating. Your aiming cursor will turn red when you've 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 game's moronic robots from about two feet away since that's the only way you can hit them. It's also way too easy to shoot the ground in the game and never even realize that you're doing it. This is particularly a problem when you are on a ledge trying to shoot down. The aiming cursor looks like you're shooting something, but then you look down and you're just shooting the ground - it's quite frustrating.
The game also has objectives that are difficult to figure out, or are just plain boring. You'll run from room to room shooting endless bad guys while searching for a switch to hit or something to blow up. One of the game's touted features is your ability to hack into some of the opposing robots. This allows you to control them to blow other stuff up - it's kind of a cool idea, but can't make up for the rest of the game. The multi-player doesn't really add too much value to the game since it's 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 doesn't 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, you'll get blown away by a million droids that all look the same, and you'll 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 game's 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 what's 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 game's 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. It's often times so loud that you won't be able to hear what your orders for each area are, and since there isn't a way to go back and see what you need to do, you end up wandering around aimlessly. The voice acting isn't bad, and some of the humor is pretty funny, but there's nothing particularly noteworthy in the sound department.
Metal Arms is an unoriginal game that fails to improve on any of the games it emulates. It's just another game in a long line of "me too" 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 couldn't find anything good about it. Wait till it's in the bargain bin before you check it out, or you can rent it, but don't expect much.
12/8/2003 Aaron Thomas