There are many games I love in this world; but none more than Metal Fatigue a really old PC game from the early 2000s; now not many people can say they have played the greatest real-time strategy game, let alone the best match. To be honest I can probably never say the latter but I can say the first. I love this game so much that I had spent seven years of my life starting from the game’s credits, all the way through big corporations just to try and get this game revived; but I’ll save story time for after. That being said let us focus on the review for Metal Fatigue!
Now, what separates this real-time strategy game from other real-time strategy games? Metal Fatigue has the core concept down pat, you build up your troops, you gather materials, and you expand to wage war with your opponent. There are three factions much like Star Crafts Terran, Protoss, and Zerg and these factions at their core are very similar in their choice of technology and equipment.
The core features of the game are derived from how it handles combat, the troops play a minor role in combat they are basically support units and the true greatness in combat comes from the Mecha you design and build. The mechs are comprised of three distinct pieces of equipment the first being the Torso, the second being the legs and finally, the last pieces are the mech’s arms. These parts are all customizable and it you can use each part independently during combat to give yourself an edge over your enemy.
But that is just the start of explaining the combat in Metal Fatigue; you see in most real-time strategy games you focus on one-liner plain; in StarCraft, you focus on just on top of the planet. But in War, you must think of how to out-wit your enemy both from land and sea and Metal Fatigue captures this element the best way humanly possible. They not only spend the time allowing for customization of your Mecha to fight your opponents but there are two others plains of battle that the player must be actively involved in to get an advantage over your opponent.
The player has to fight not only on land where combat has the most options but they must also fight underground and in low orbit simultaneously; in low orbit, Mecha can fly up and fight as well as fighter jets and bombers to take out enemy solar panels which help keep the enemy powered to make more weapons, and equipment for their Mecha relying on Solar energy as a means to continue fighting instead of a multitude of different resources.
The second plane of combat is on the ground; where the player can use all his resources to their maximum potentials such as their Mecha, Fighter Jets, Bombers, Tanks, and any other vehicle at their disposal. This is by far the hardest area to maintain a field presence in when fighting your enemies as there are different buildings, and equipment you can manufacture to give yourself an edge during combat in this plain; one such team can manufacture a rail-gun equivalent in power to a Nuke from a Terran Ghost for all the StarCraft players among our readers.
Then we have the final field of combat which is underground; being underground you are limited to what you are capable of in terms of combat but it is also the place that yields the player’s mainstay of resources. By far the hardest place of attack but the place that yields the most reward for having a commanding presence in that area. Here only combat vehicles can work such as the player’s missile cars, and tanks. However; fortified towers can be placed to help defend areas where the players gather resources.
There exists a multitude of options for how you can defeat your opponents in Metal Fatigue from orbital bombardment, digging up under their base and forcing them to fight underground or a straight-out assault with armored mecha’s on land; or a mix of all three stratagems. It’s because of this that I feel the game is the best real-time strategy game of all time and with its re-release on Steam fixing a lot of the game’s previous bugs that their predecessors couldn’t fix and optimizing it for Windows 10 and other newer PC’s its a mainstay in classic gaming.
However; since the game relies heavily on its original materials game does have a few faults to it; as multiplayer can only be done local host now since the company responsible for the online multiplayer services are long defunct. So despite multiplayer being its mainstay for gaming, it can no longer go online for gaming; yet, so the focus of the game is only on its single-player campaign and its local host mode.
The game itself remains solid as there has been an influx of demand for the game and its return for years from small Reddit groups and forums also claiming like I have that it is one of the best real-time strategy games out there.
It forces players to learn the unique traits of each faction RimTech, Mil-Agro, and Neuropa and gives players the chance to use each other companies’ mecha components after destroying enemy mech’s adding a means to research the fallen mechs parts to further enhance your own personal mechs. Gives an even bigger depth to the gameplay; with the ability to alter and further develop your own forces based on enemy technology to my knowledge no other real-time strategy game even presents this option, not even StarCraft.
RimTech is the standard faction and the most balanced faction of the three relying on its overall capabilities rather than the other factions’ uniqueness; both in its towers for defending, and the equipment that the mechs use for combat, a sword and a shield for their mechs or straight up missile arms to deal with the enemies is the best solution to most problems.
Mil-Agro is the powerhouse faction relying upon its destructive prowess to try to end battles quicker their mechs tend to be a fraction slower but hit harder, as do a lot of their more specialized troops such as tanks, and missile cars.
The final faction and one of the harder ones to use is the Neuropa faction; this faction screams uniqueness as it has stealth and auto-regen capabilities that the other factions lack in their overall design. Their faction relies on guerilla tactics both in ambushing and beating the other factions out in speed with how quickly they can attack materialize. Out of the three factions I personally like Mil-Agro; and RimTech is my second choice due to its defensive capabilities outweighing others but because in Metal Fatigue you can destroy enemy mechs and research their components you are capable of creating the best mech for the scenario if you just happen to have the parts, stole the parts and or researched the parts.
Why are these factions at war do you ask? Well the Hedoth Dominion which is an Alien race that was thought extinct by humanity left ancient technology laying around and corporate-sized nations began excavating the equipment; this equipment was then fought over by the three companies and even went as far as to brainwash one of the three protagonists who at one point were all working under RimTech; and through differences of opinion ended up at war with one another over the Alien technology, that’s a really down watered version of the story the actual story is better experienced as it was one of Jason Hough’s earlier works, and if you are unfamiliar with Jason Hough he is a bestselling author for the book series Zero World and has even worked on Mass Effect Andromeda Nexus Uprising.
Now there are a few negative points to this game but this is primarily based on its age, as the game was optimized and created for PC’s that worked on Windows 95, 98, ME, and XP, and screen resolutions during that era didn’t really equivalent to much the best notable resolution back then unless you had money was 1280 x 720; and so because of this the game doesn’t natively support 1920 x 1080 or even 4k resolutions. So where as StarCraft II and other real-time strategy games such as Age of Empires you have a larger scope of the territory you are defending in Metal Fatigue you do not; which can create some degree of issues but despite this.
Metal Fatigue remains one of the cult classics that takes a very literal stance on warfare in both how you attack your opponents, and how you can grow during gameplay from their resources. It is why I spent seven years of my life emailing and meeting the original development team and why my friends and I fought so diligently to try and bring it back. On my long and arduous journey, I talked to smaller game companies and met the original development team. Searching high and low to find out who had the game rights and looking for help from companies such as Tiny Build Games, Take 2 interactive, and even Gary Napper of Sony when he was still there before he moved on to Supermassive games.
I was told several months ago from a source that the rights have moved on because someone kept bothering the companies for seven years so they decided to go ahead and re-release the game into the open market, although I like to feel that I had a hand in the games return its thanks to Nightdive Studios that it is finally back out there for everyone to enjoy. But it can be said that my deep love and passion for this game can now see new players globally and eventually I feel multiplayer features will return to it; heck the game may even become fully remastered at some point in time.
I hope my review sheds some light onto why this game is a masterpiece; and why I feel it rivals that of Blizzards Star Craft; or Microsoft’s Age of Empire series; however I guess this does I’ll never be able to work on a direct sequel. But some things can’t be avoided, at least my favorite game of all time is back and now the entire world can see why it’s so great and for it to appear on the market in the early 2000s with these mechanics; trying to push the element of real-time strategy to new limits it was a shame that it wasn’t a very watched title; primarily because of bugs, and what I can only assume is poor marketing strategies.
Closing notes, if I had to summarize this entire game in a single sentence “Metal Fatigue is what a real-time strategy game is supposed to be.”
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