You’ve got your AAA games, right? Your $60 midnight-launch heavies that define what the mainstream thinks about the hobby. You’ve also got your indies, your $5 non-heavies that mostly stink up Steam outside of the odd gem here and there. There’s actually a space in between these, though, your B-lister games. These are relatively inexpensive titles that might not have the same oomph as a AAA game (but cost less as a result) while maybe having a little more polish and clout than an indie game (but cost more as a result.) That’s where Metal Max Xeno falls, for better or for worse.
The world has ended yet again! This time it’s thanks to horrible mechanical monsters spawned by an evil supercomputer. The last known bastion of humanity exists in the ruins of Tokyo, now known as Dystokio, and we follow monster hunter Talis’ adventures to clean the place up. In the meantime, he might learn more about what happened and if there really aren’t any humans left after all.
This plays out in fairly standard JRPG fashion. You’ve got your turn-based combat, you’ve got your dungeons, you’ve got your fairly extensive overworld to explore and loot for treasure. There’s side quests and special bounties to check out here and there as well. Combat in general is the typical “make sure you heal or you’ll die” stuff we’ve played before. It’s not especially inspiring, though I did appreciate the monster designs and bestiary which helped keep me going a bit longer. It’s also nice that when you’re driving your tank, you can instakill enemies a la Earthbound, receiving full rewards if you’re strong enough that the battle wouldn’t have been a threat.
The main way in which Metal Max Xeno differs from the usual is that you’ve got customizable tanks that you can tune to your liking. Tuning your tanks and adjusting your characters’ job classes provides a decent enough amount of depth, especially since you can paint the tanks to your liking, but don’t expect too much in the way of innovation here outside of that.
There’s a nice enough presentation here, at least…well, mostly. See, the graphics are decent cel-shaded fare, so there’s no complaints there, though don’t expect anything that’ll knock your socks off. Sound and music are pretty much what you’d expect, too. The localization, though…woof. Questionable formatting, typographical errors and obviously iffy translations abound, making this feel like a game from the dark age of PS1 JRPG localization – and I’m pretty sure the last time we saw a Metal Max game was back on the PS2 with Metal Saga, so it wasn’t that far off.
I’ve got a particular pet peeve for this kind of thing so I found it especially distracting. I assumed we were past this by now? Guess not. A character actually says “may the tank be with you” at one point. Even if an accurate translation, it’s still goofy enough to be a turnoff, and that’s not uncommon throughout Metal Max Xeno – note how the cannons of these futuristic tanks fire “cannonballs,” for instance.
Still, as a budget title you could probably do worse than with Metal Max Xeno. The price tag lets you know what you’re getting yourself into, at least. If you’re hurting for JRPGs – though I’m not sure why you would given the recent release of Dragon Quest XI on the same platform at the same time – then perhaps this might slake your third for a little while. Until the next adventure comes along, at least.