Back in August, I reviewed a fighting game called Fantasy Strike. It's an old-school type of brawler from the team at Sirlin Games. Even though it doesn’t quite possess the pizzazz of other top-notch fighting games on the market, such as Dragon Ball FighterZ or Tekken 7, it has its own sense of appeal between its old-school style controls and cast of characters. That same niche was present when I tried out NEXT Studios’ Metal Revolution, which is set to trade paint on consoles and PC sometime next year.
The developers let me dig in for a few matches, and I was quite impressed by what I came across. Let’s break down what makes the game tick so far…
A Unique Batch of Robo-Characters
Like the fan favorite Rising Thunder before it, Metal Revolution thrives with a cast of (mostly) robotic characters, including some that bring entirely unique personas and attack styles to the game.
For instance, there’s Miyamoto Ren, a robot that’s dressed in a 1930’s style hat, shirt and tie. However, he’s built with a very agile frame, and also wields a samurai sword. The combination of his smooth physique and sharp blade provide a combination that some players are sure to love.
Those who prefer something a little on the “big and burly” side may want to see what Ted Graham brings to the table. This robot features a build that’s like a combination of a football player and a knight, complete with a helmet with a grill covering its face. Its large frame makes it slightly slower than the smaller characters, but all the more powerful.
On top of that, there are some other oddball characters that stand out in this group. There’s a Monkey King-style robot that’s quite agile and able to perform devastating maneuvers with its staff, an insect-style bot that can use its arms to carve up the competition with combos, and even a nun. That’s right, a heavily armed nun that doesn’t look like she’ll be sitting down to take confessions anytime soon. Sadly, we weren’t able to see her in action yet, but she probably has an interesting story that’ll intrigue a few fighting fans out there.
Overall, the cast has about ten characters, though there’s a possibility that more will be added to the game, depending on its popularity. These characters bring different weapons and attack methods with them, making each one a treat to perfect. Hopefully, NEXT will give us a taste of what’s to come with a demo before the game’s release.
Characters and Modes For Everyone
With each combatant in Metal Revolution, NEXT Studios maintains a proper balance across six key areas – power, range, health, technique, mobility and energy break. Though some may be lacking in certain areas, they make up for it in others, forcing the player to perfect what they can do in order to properly score a victory with the fight.
Fortunately, the gameplay that this game possesses allows that with ease. A training mode enables the player to learn the ropes with each of the systems, which we’ll break down a little further below. But once they’re set to go, a number of options are available.
For those who prefer a good solo battle, there’s Arcade Mode. Here, you’ll test out a string of opponents before finally completing your journey. Anyone that plays fighting games should instantly see what this mode is about.
On top of that, there’s also Friend mode and local mode. These two are perfect for offline battles, and a nice feature to dig into when you want to take on a buddy on the couch. Here, you can just hop into a fight and see how you fare against others. There's also an option to use your precious fighting controllers, if you have a special one you yearn to use.
Then we get to the real thick of the action, which are Metal Revolution’s online offerings. Here, you can choose from a number of available modes and see how you fare against others. There’s Quick Match, which is simply hopping into the next available fight that’s on hand. This is ideal for those that don’t want to worry about ranking or anything like that, and just want a brawl-a-thon, so to speak.
Then there’s Arena. This is probably the most fulfilling mode of the game thus far. It’s a “ranked” mode, so there’s a certain challenge to overcome opponents. However, if you’re game to do so and manage to score a victory, you’ll earn a number of bonuses. NEXT didn’t break these down yet, but more than likely, they’ll be skins or other goodies that you can use over your next fights. No, nothing that will give you a huge advantage – but at the very least, you’ll look cool.
So between the online and offline stuff, Metal Revolution has a whole lot to offer players. Whether more modes will be added as the game goes on isn’t confirmed just yet, but we can totally see NEXT stacking this deck as, again, the game grows within the fighting community.
A Combat System You Can Build Upon
Like Fighting Strike before it, Metal Revolution builds upon a very effective fighting system, one that stands out from the Tekkens and Mortal Kombats of the world. Players of all skill sets can dig in and find lots of good stuff here, no matter which character they end up using. It’s just a matter of getting comfortable with a few things.
First, there’s a jump button, but combined with the rest of the control scheme, this actually works in the game’s favor. Instead of having to worry about regulating the move to an analog stick and putting yourself in an odd position, you can simply tap the button and prepare for an incoming attack – or guard, just in case your opponent has something vicious planned once you land.
That leads us to the combat. This is relatively easy to get into, thanks to Metal Revolution’s control scheme. It’s simple to put together combos with your strike moves, no matter your skill set. I was able to chain together a couple of good ones with Miyamoto Ren by the time my second match rolled around. That shows how you can get in right off the bat, even if you’re a player that’s not entirely skilled.
As you dig deeper into Metal Revolution, some cool new systems come into play. For instance, blocking actually goes the extra mile. Rather than just protecting you from incoming hits, you can actually turn it around into a parry and land one of several defensive moves on an opponent. This could turn around the tempo of the match almost instantly, depending if you can catch someone on guard quickly enough.
This is a system that may take a little patience. I was walked through it by one of NEXT’s reps, and I didn’t necessarily “nail” it the first time. However, by my second match, again, I was able to adapt, and soon we were turning reversals on one another back and forth. It’s a terrific game of “give and take,” if you will, and well worth practicing if you’ve got the endurance to stick it out.
Like any good fighting game, Metal Revolution also comes with Ultimates. Here, you can charge up a super attack and, provided you hit your opponent in just the right spot, unleash a devastating finisher that can easily leave them laying. They’re not fatalities, mind you, but they are cool little moves that unfold in a blinding flash, adding some flair to the proceedings. So time these just right and watch the sparks fly. Literally.
Don’t Be Fooled, This Revolution Looks Good
Even though Metal Revolution isn’t quite considered a AAA brawler, like SoulCalibur VI, there’s no question that NEXT Studios is putting together quite an effort with it. As you can see from the trailer below, the robots look impressive when it comes to their animations; and even the backgrounds have a certain flair to them, from an underground robot fighting club to a cool city scape, where the lights actually dim as you or your opponent land a brutal Ultimate.
There are also some terrific lighting effects that align with the system. For instance, when you’re successfully blocking an opponent, you’ll see a blue glow around your character with each hit that bounces off. However, when you parry, the light suddenly turns green, giving you an indication that it’s time to hit back. These little things can make quite a difference in the heat of combat, so pay close attention. They might just turn the tide for you.
What’s On the Horizon
Along with a large cast of characters, strong gameplay system and unlockable goods, NEXT has promised that it will add more battle modes in the future. It hasn’t detailed what these are just yet, but don’t be surprised if variations of other modes from other hit fighting games make their debut.
For that matter, additional skins are in the works, along with more stages for players to check out. It’s up in the air whether or not new characters will join the party. It totally depends how well received the current ones are. Keep in mind these aren’t just pretty robot faces. They all have a fascinating back-story, as players can see how they connect with one another and what drives them to be in this fighting tournament. Tell you what, I want to learn more about that fighting nun.
Robot Fightin’ Stars Next Year
Metal Revolution is still in development over at NEXT, set for an unspecified release sometime in 2020 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. The studio will announce when it’s ready to go, but judging by my time with it thus far, they’ve got something decidedly old-school on their hands and there are going to be a lot of people that will get into that.
We’ll check back in as progress is made, but in the meantime, keep an eye on these guys. They’re ready for the Revolution to be televised.