|A largely unappreciated game that illustrates problems inherent in porting from the arcade. In the arcade this would have made a fun, diverting multiplayer arena beat-em-up with lively characters, sharp graphics, hefty guns, lots of violence and maybe you could even have heard the heavy metal soundtrack over the rest of the noise in the arcade. Worth a few quarters, eh? But bring it home and the quick pick-it-up-and-shoot approach tends to work against it as it's interpreted as having a short play time, even with the added "Chaosmatrix" mode where you work through series of preset arena challenges with strict time limits.
And then there are the controls: in the arcade the game would have been fully playable with just four buttons plus the digital arcade stick, using button combinations to trigger certain advanced functions such as your weapon's special attack, or dropping a weapon. On a gamepad, however, it isn't really convenient to mash multiple buttons simultaneously, at least not if you need to do it accurately, and not only do you lose the tight feel of the digital arcade stick for the pad's analog stick, you also can't do the double-tap dash very easily. So now you've got to map Dash, Special, Drop, and other commands to additional buttons, and the game becomes a 6+ button mess.
Which is unfortunate 'cause, played with good DC arcade stick, mashing insane slasher biker mammas with ridiculously large ray-guns, missles and swords while jamming to the likes of Halford is pretty entertaining. Unfortunately Capcom didn't feel inclined to try bringing the internet multiplayer aspect of the game to the States so you can only play with two players at once. And there's the problematic camera, trained to keep you and your current target in-picture constantly even if that means that you can't see where you're going, or that you get turned around in your midair triple-jump-dash as the camera swivels to track the guy you just flew over--I'd really have liked to have an option to switch to a nice steady follow-cam. Memorizing the layouts of the small arena levels does something to mitigate the problem, at least.
Even aside from struggling with the camera, Arcade mode poses a good challenge on the default difficulty, often pitting you against multiple opponents at once and here's where strategy and mastery of the level come in to play as you decide how best to divide and conquer your spikey foes. Do it with big explosions, orbital strikes and energy-sword chain combos. It's a fast, rocky ride to be savored--and remember, Metal is forever.