The good, the undecided, and the ugly.
I have been playing a little fighting game by the name of Metal Revolution this past week. I would not be surprised if you have not heard of it with the genre being niche outside big names like Street Fighter, Tekken, and Mortal Kombat. Not to mention that Metal Revolution is still in the closed beta stage. I was fortunate enough to be selected to test the game and here are some of my thoughts.
What draws me into Metal Revolution is the roster. If you haven’t noticed already, the cast is composed exclusively of robots. Only the core eight characters are available during the duration of the closed beta. While some are clearly inspired by the cast from other series, others can be more unique like Ted Graham, the humongous football grappler or Chromeleon the stealthy chameleon shaped bot. This is not to say that the ones with less creative designs are not interesting. They are definitely different with them all being reimagined as robots to a certain extent. Another thing that I like is how their personalities and fighting styles are effectively conveyed, be it from the decals on their metal bodies, speech patterns, or garbs. The game visual style is very strong overall and one of its main strengths.
This game is a 5-button fighter which is composed of light, special, super, jump, and dash attacks. To appeal to audiences not familiar with the genre, the controls are simplified. Light attacks are tied to a fixed auto-combo and special attacks are performed by just pressing the special button + directions. Interestingly, Jump and Dash have their own buttons as well. To make it easier for newer players, overheads and low attacks are also non-existent in Metal Revolution. The simplified inputs and curious control scheme may make the game resemble a 2D side-scroller beat ’em up rather than a fighting game to some.
Another interesting decision is how NEXT studio has combined the super meter and a guard meter into one. For those unfamiliar to fighting games, your character will be stunned if you block too much in and the guard bar is a visual representation of that. This is not a mechanic that all fighting games have but, for ones that do, guard bar is almost always its own thing. I should also mention that dashing, which is usually a free and basic movement option in other games, does consume part of the aforementioned meter. The same goes for parry, other movement options, combo breaker, etc… I feel that tying all of these options into one single meter creates a situation in which the player is punished regardless of being offensive or defensive. You will find it easier to get your guard broken as the more resources you spend translates to having less guard meter due to its dual nature in this game. One could argue that this creates a new risk vs reward dynamic unique only to Metal Revolution, and they would not be wrong. I acknowledge this sentiment but it is certainly not something that I personally look for in a fighting game.
From my six hours experience with the closed beta, I must say the online does not run particularly well. I experienced a lot of frame skips and teleports which is a common occurrence when the connection between players is not good in a fighting game with rollback netcode. The problem is I know my connection works just fine 90% of the time in other games with the same rollback technique such as Killer Instinct (2013) and Lethal League Blaze. It is the opposite here. Reaction is vital in fighting games and you simply cannot do that when the state of the game changes unnaturally at a random pace. The online reminds me a lot of Street Fighter 5 online but somewhat better, which is not a compliment by any means. It is absolutely not game-breaking but it can and will be your endless source of frustrations. All I can say is that I hope NEXT Studio can get this problem sorted out before the next beta or actual release.
My impression after spending some time with the game is that Metal Revolution is indeed primarily aimed toward people with little to no experience in fighting games. There are various limitations which are an expected result from simplifying the concept of a well-established genre. The game is enjoyable but your mileage will vary depending on your familiarity with fighters and may leave veterans wanting something more. Still, If they are able to fix the netcode, Metal Revolution should be a great entry point to fighting games for the uninitiated and an adequate distraction for veterans. If you are interested, do check them out on twitter for information on when the next beta will be and how you can register for it.