Wild Metal Country
Tank games have been done to death, as have third-person shoot 'em ups. Wild Metal Country is a combination of both, and of course promises to be a whole new genre. Complete indifference is a natural reaction to this claim, although a few eyebrows may be raised on learning that the developers are none other than DMA, Dundee-based purveyors of the successful Grand Theft Auto, the undeniably good -but probably not quite as good as everyone made out - joyride 'em up.
Wild Metal Country is a third-person, action-based tank game, allegedly incorporating the best aspects of first-person fighting games, driving games and classic arcade-style tank action. DMA have created their own graphics engine -cunningly entitled 3DMA - and without wishing to dwell on high polygon throughputs or hierarchical models, it looks alright. Huge environments are possible, complete with real-time lighting, dynamic shadowing and weather effects, and dozens of enemies on-screen. The game also utilises a bespoke physics system, with gravity, traction, shot trajectory, magnetism and inertia all playing their part. Hence tanks react to different surfaces, and explosions cause them to buck violently. The action takes place in huge, open-air arenas consisting of mountains, hills, valleys, plains, canyons and deserts, which should make a change from the usual corridor-based tomfoolery.
For reasons too dull to go into here, the enemy tanks are bizarre to say the least, based loosely around the characteristics of animals including bulls, vipers, rhinos, ravens, ducks and fireflies. As for the player, you control both tank tracks and the turret independently, which, depending on your manual dexterity, is either a more versatile or a more difficult system. Shots are fired from the main cannon on a curved trajectory, making for a more strategic game, encompassing long-range shots over the tops of hills, ricocheting shells around corners, and dropping cluster bombs over a group of tanks.
A host of weapons are available, including standard shells, bouncing shells, cluster bombs, guided missiles, magnetic shells and teleport warps. You can also drop passive mines which roll downhill and form minefields, magnetic mines which drag anything metallic into their wake, and jumping jacks which pursue the nearest tank until it's destroyed. Which is nice.
That's your Wild Metal Country, then. It sounds alright on paper, so keep 'em peeled.
Download Wild Metal Country
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Remember 'Uncle Peter the genuinely scary 'comedy lunatic' who used to pop up now and again on The Smell Of Reeves And Mortimer? He was played by a wild-haired comedian with a weather-beaten face who called himself Chuck Charlie Chuck also toured the stand-up ircult. his live act largely consisted of bellowing random wfcrds (usually "donkey") in a Northern accent, look ill Aon fused, and sometimes turning violent or sprriing off the stage in tears. Watching him in action, itwas hard to tell whether it was all a pretence. God knows what he's up to these days, but if Wild Metal Country is anything to go by he's probably in Dundee helping DMA Design come up with their game ideas.
Wild Metal Country is the sort of thing that defies description. Which is a pain in the arse for anyone trying to write about it - such as ourselves. In common with almost every other DMA release, it's a curious blend of up-to-the-minute technology and defiantly old-school gameplay - a bit like a ZX Spectrum game from the year 2064, if you see what we mean. The plot goes like this: somewhere near the arse end of the Universe lies the Tehric empire, a legacy of three planets consumed by a bitter civil war. And we mean bitter: billions were slaughtered.
Still, war always has an upside, right? And the upside of the Tehric civil war was the creation of intelligent war machines, designed to protect the 'vital power cores' that each side held dear. Unfortunately these machines were so intelligent, they soon realised that letting humans and other living things hang around was a liability. So they killed everybody. Bingo. War is over. Merry Christmas.
Billions of years passed, as they are wont to do, and over time the intelligent robots began to evolve, dually taking on the characteristics of some of the animals they had exterminated in the past. Not that anyone knew or cared, since no one visited the place - until they discovered that the power cores were srill on the surface. And this is where you come in. Your task is to beam down onto the surface of each planet, scout around for discarded power cores, wipe out the enemy machines, and then get the heck out of there. Well what else are you going to be doing this afternoon? Idly picking at tagnuts and watching Call My Bluff? Get a move on!
As you may have guessed, the convoluted storyline is just an excuse for a bit of old-fashioned 'collect the widgets and kill the bad guys' action. What you won't be prepared for is the action itself. Essentially, Wild Metal Country is an arcade-style tank game blending spot-on physics with quirky humour and an outlandish setting. Not so much a simulator as a whimulator, if you like.
But why should you give a flying one? Oddball futuristic games are ten a penny these days. You can't rum around without bumping into lunar farming emulators and Martian powerboating games. So what's so special about Wild Metal Country?
Listen, the single most important thing about the game is this: no amount of screenshots or lyrical description can possibly hope to explain the game's strongest point - the engine. A combination of DMA's custom-built 3DMA graphics utility and an eerily convincing physics engine turn what could have been a run-of-the-mill sci-fi actioneer into a weirdly compelling arcade game. As we keep whinging, it's hard to convey in words, but everything in the game just behaves properly. And it makes a massive difference. It makes the action inherently satisfying. It's that indefinable 'dinkiness' - the guaranteed gratification factor - that DMA have a knack of providing.
Not that it's as easy to warm to as something like Grand Theft Auto. There's an initial learning curve to be conquered - the control system. Wild Metal Country uses four keys for movement: not forward, reverse, left and right, but a separate forward and reverse for each of your tank's tracks. This means that in order to go forward, you have to press two keys at once. Turning is trickier: you can either let go of one button to let the tank turn slowly, or hammer the opposing track into reverse and make it spin on the spot. On top of all of that you've got a separate control for the turret. Oh, and you have to gauge the trajectory of each shot, too. It sounds like a nightmare, and for the first ten minutes or so of play it is: you tend to pirouette around like a drunken Dalek, tumbling down slopes and being hammered by the enemy until you feel like hurling the keyboard through the screen. Then suddenly, some of your synapses start to kick in and it all starts to gel. Which is the point at which you start enjoying yourself and getting into the game proper.