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Wild Metal Country

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs




Copyright 1999, Rockstar Games

Wild Metal Country is the second release in Rockstar Games’ popular (and widely appreciated) “Free Download” series, which brings to gamers everywhere full version downloads of the company’s classic games. Unlike Grand Theft Auto, the sleeper hit that was the first release in this series, Wild Metal Country never became a smash hit, although it is a superb 3D shooter that received a lot of critical acclaim. Originally developed when Rockstar North was called “DMA Design” and published by Gremlin in Europe and Infogrames in the U.S., Wild Metal Country has been optimized for modern PCs and distributed free of charge from Rockstar Games’ website. If you still need convincing, excerpts from Adrenaline Vault’s very positive review should do the trick:

“The background story is minimally relevant. For centuries, the three planets of the Tehric system have remained desolate, as the once mighty empire that existed there in the past was killed off through a horrendous civil war. It turns out machine technology advanced to such a stage that automated military units began to represent an out-of-control threat to human populations — these units misinterpreted their mission as being to wipe out all biological life. The only option was for all humans to evacuate the planets. Now, a large variety of intelligent machines, created in the last years of the war to protect vital power cores (infinite power sources), have taken on animal intelligence and behavior, and control the environment. You play the role of a bounty hunter attempting to recapture the power cores and disrupt the machines’ control of the “Wild Metal Country.”

The game engine is spectacular and deserves special discussion. Basically, it uses every state-of-the-art feature available in 3D video acceleration and 3D sound, creating an astonishingly engrossing play environment. The home-grown 3DMA graphics engine achieves these effects, as it is capable of high polygon throughputs, extensive texturing effects and management of many dynamic hierarchical animated models, using Direct Draw, card-specific APIs or software rendering. This allows the creation of absolutely huge environments, complete with real-time lighting, dynamic shadowing and weather effects, and dozens of enemies on the screen. The game also uses an extraordinary physics system, permitting the gravity, traction, shot trajectory, magnetism and inertia of every object to be realistically simulated. This system incorporates both the contrasting impacts of differing surfaces and vibration effects of explosions.

The action takes place in 27 gigantic open arenas consisting of mountains, hills, valleys, plains, canyons and deserts. Outside of Interplay’s arcade shooter classic SWIV 3D Assault, I have never played a game in which so much of the movement is up-and-down rather than side-to-side. Flat landscapes with full visibility to the horizon are simply nonexistent in this offering, and I am quite pleased about that because it adds to the tension and surprise about what is over the next bluff. The other past effort Wild Metal Country reminds me of is Reality Bytes’ Havoc, due to the exclusive focus on machine-to-machine warfare on very rough terrain. Aside from single-player mode, there is an extremely well-developed multiplayer mode over LAN, modem and the Internet containing four different play options. This type of shooter lends itself wonderfully to human-versus-human combat through the virtual vehicles.

“Free-form” is probably the best way to describe the arcade flavor of Wild Metal Country. There are no predetermined paths or fixed sequences of actions to be undertaken. Instead, you are left to your own devices, and you may take your time exploring every nook and cranny or just zip right through sticking to required tasks. I love the complete non-linearity of the play and the fact that time pressure plays absolutely no role in your success. This atmosphere very much fits the cold and lonely post-apocalyptic anarchy present in the storyline’s setting.

Wild Metal Country is by far the most fun arcade shooter I have played since Recoil. While nothing about its overall thrust is new, so many of the details involve both innovation and groundbreaking quality that it is hard to summarize them all. The graphics, sound effects and physics of motion are simply the best I have seen in this genre. Those wanting diverse and complex missions should stay far away from this product; if, on the other hand, you crave the unadulterated thrill of really intriguing and absorbing arcade combat action, you should race out and enter the world of Wild Metal Country as fast as you can.”

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