Metrocide - The Review
A retro top view game in the style of the original GTA mixed with sci-fi noir, does it hit its intended target or does it end up bleeding out into the gutter?
One of my favorite genres in gaming, film, and books is crime noir. From the classic works of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett to more modern voices such as James Ellroy and Dennis Lehane, crime noir is full of dark places, dirty people, and dangerous situations. It’s the perfect playground for modern gaming, as evidenced by the settings in Grim Fandango, Snatcher, and the GTA franchise, and it’s what attracted me to Metrocide, the latest title from Australian developers Flat Earth Games.
In the game, you are T. J. Trench, a legendary assassin. Trench is located in a dystopian futuristic city that has elements of 1984 and Blade Runner mixed with classic noir. The story, told through a series of comic cut scenes, fleshes out a plot that is decent but not groundbreaking.
The first thing you will notice is that the control has a very retro aspect to it, using keyboard and mouse for movement mechanics. It took this reviewer a few tries to get a handle on maneuvering properly. However, although it is nice to be able to play as a male or female character, you're "sleeping with the fishes" once you’re dead and have to start over from the beginning without any rewards earned. The game lacks any respawn or save features common in most modern titles, which forces the player to be more creative in how assignments are handled. One assignment may be as simple as following your target down a dark alley with pistol drawn, while another may require you to take a more hands on approach with explosives, all while avoiding the police, gangs, and vigilantes also on the hunt. This game reminded me of Grand Theft Auto 1/2, Hotline Miami, and Retro City Rampage, but with a higher level of challenge. This will appeal to gamers who would rather have more action than more cut scenes.
Metrocide takes an old school approach to its visuals, presenting them in a classic 2.5D, 8-bit overhead view. The graphics hearken back to the era when VGA was king in PC gaming. This may have retro appeal for many but may be a slight disappointment compared to more modern games with high-definition display and lighting effects. The audio leaves much to be desired in both use and execution.
Metrocide, as a whole,is less than the sum of its parts. With retro visuals and challenging, unforgiving gameplay, it will appeal to both classic PC gamers and indie fans. However, many of the same elements, including the lack of a save feature, may keep more mainstream gamers away from the title.