reviews\ Dec 3, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Metal Dungeon - XB - Review

It’s a familiar story. Countries are battling for world domination, each trying to get the one weapon that will swing the battle to their side. In Alanis, the worlds of science and technology are only two-thirds of a disastrous triangle. Magic is the third corner, and when you put all three together, you have the makings of mayhem.

And that is precisely what has happened. Having discovered and captured a group of powerful sorcerers known as the “Gods of Magic,” the nation of Giamel has begun production of “Weapon Monsters.” These creatures are the combination of bioengineering, and are mutated life forms. They are also very deadly. Halfway through the process of taping the power of the “Gods of Magic,” the sorcerers rouse from their trance and take over the main computer. Set loose, the “Weapon Monsters” wipe out the scientists and guards in the research facility.

That’s where you come in. Your job is to lead a quintet of elite soldiers to kill the “Gods of Magic” and reclaim the facility. Should these sorcerers fully awaken from their trances and unleash their uncontrollable magical powers, the very world will be destroyed.

Panther Software and Xicat Interactive have teamed up for Metal Dungeon, a three-dimensional dungeon crawl that is riding the wave of current console fantasy adventure titles like Legaia 2 (a Fresh Games release for the PlayStation2). You have a character that explores the mapboard, and when you encounter a hot spot where monsters await, you are taken to a battlefield and the entire party, as well as all the monsters you face, is revealed. The battles are automatic, and the order of combat is random.

Yes, you can give individual members of your party the opportunity to use special skills during the battle, or just go on guard if their hit points are down. All surviving members of your party will receive experience points, which will translate into leveling up and increased hit point numbers.

At the heart of Metal Dungeon is the dungeon itself. This presents a wonderfully conceived idea. If you leave the dungeon, and then re-enter, it has changed. As the briefing voice notes, this can be a real pain, but it is also a part of the challenge of the game.

Character and team creation can be carried out either automatically (the CPU will come up with a character which you can either accept or reject), or manually. In the manual mode, you can customize the gender, face and color configuration of the character as well as body type.

There are five types of warriors: a broader (wielding a different-looking broad axe), fencer (sword), striker (fists), analyzer (bullet gun) and caster (mage with a staff). While the range of enemies may run from ethereal to rabid armored-and-armed rodents to Kobolds and slime that packs a wallop, all the heroes are humanoid.

As mentioned, the battles are carried out automatically, and the character movements are quite redundant. Your striker will smack his hands together every time before he attacks. In addition to regular attacks, there are special attacks, which can be taxing to the character.

Game controls are very simple and straightforward, while the game’s sound fails to take advantage of the console’s incredible abilities.

Graphically the game features solid special effects. The environment is a metal dungeon so don’t expect wonderful landscapes. The three-dimensional characters are nicely designed, but look almost as metallic as the walls of the dungeon up close.

Metal Dungeon is an average game that employs the same battle system as numerous other Japanese-style dungeon crawls. Unfortunately, when you have seen so many, it is hard to get excited about another. And this program, in spite of some different ideas in the storyline and environment, just doesn’t have much to keep the attention for long.

This game is rated Teen for blood and violence.

Gameplay: 7
While the load times for combat and exploration of areas is very quick, the game does have more than its fair share of them. The map does change with each visit, which is a nice twist on the maze/dungeon crawl. And while you can specify what each member of your team will do during the combat, the order of attack is on a random basis and the combat is carried out automatically.

Graphics: 7.2
The creature crafting is quite nice, as are some of the special effects. The animation does look a little stiff, especially in the exploration phase of the game.

Sound: 6.5
The clonking footsteps, and over-amped battle sounds are not all that well done but seem somewhat typical of the style of game. The musical background is also average.

Difficulty: Easy
While the game is easy to control, and the interface presents nothing new for this style of game, there is challenge in the monsters you will face.

Concept: 7
The changing nature of the dungeon makes this a game with great replay value. However, the gameplay is identical to the style that GameBoy uses in the same genre. You walk around, get into combat with monsters, and everyone that survives comes away with experience points and sometimes the monster drops a special item.

Overall: 7
The game style has been done a lot of late. The story is different and intriguing, but the game style doesn’t do much with it. The game intro makes this look like it will be the type of game to rival a Final Fantasy title, and while the graphic elements are fine, they do not live up to the promise of the opening scenes. This is an average game what may sate the need for a fantasy adventure, but certainly won’t whet the appetites of die-hard RPG fans.


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