Metal Sun offers great graphics but content is lacking

Posted: July 18, 2009 in Action, Shooter

One of my favorite types of music growing up was heavy metal (you know to go along with my mullet…kidding). I always liked the raucous lyrics and the adrenaline pumping electric guitar chords that seem to make my fingers hurt just listening to them. So when I first heard about Metal Sun, a new aerial combat game with a hint of sci-fi thrown in, I was intrigued more by the title than the game. After playing this for a few hours, Metal Sun shows potential with responsive physics-based controls, visually appealing worlds and entertaining gameplay, but the game feels unfinished.

The storyline is that aliens have attacked Earth and are looking to capture humans. The objective is to pick up humans represented as blue orbs. These blue orbs also provide health when you fly your fighter through them, can be carried for extra firepower, and dropped off on the ground for points. In addition, you have to battle various aliens with names such as Seeker Bats, WolfBack, Sentinel and Intercepter. Each has a different types of armor and require different levels of continuous weapons fire. The primary targets are the Satellites (think small-scale Death Star), and the Metal Sun.

The 3D environments look great as you fly through various environments and face various enemy ships. The game offers free movement as you maneuver your fighter jet anywhere you like. The accelerometer controls work well for steering and moving up and down, but you need to manually calibrate. The calibrate option is only accessible during actual gameplay when you tap the screen. It’s a strange setup, and one that isn’t obvious. Also, a throttle is located on down the left side of the screen represented by an arrow that you can slide up and down.

Along the top of the screen is the number of ships/lives that you have, the number of humans that need to be rescued or yet to be captured by alien forces, and a clock. In the bottom left corner is a mini-radar which is literally a group of colored dots—green for humans, red for aliens, and yellow of the Metal Sun, and a white stationary button representing your fighter in the middle. What is missing is a speed gauge and an altimeter and to a lesser degree a fire/shoot button.

When it comes to the act of shooting, Metal Sun has an awkward set up. For one, there isn’t an actual fire button, and instead, you tap the upper right corner where the clock is located. Again this is an unusual place for a button crucial to gameplay, but it works. In addition, there isn’t a targeting mechanism such as a locking crosshair for aiming. For the most part, I’m shooting a barrage of weapons fire in the general vicinity of an alien ship with little regard for accuracy.

In addition, the game lacks different planes or weapons. While the aliens fire at your fighter, there are some things that don’t seem to flow namely with the Blue Orbs. Why fly through them to get a power up? Ideally, power ups and perks should be represented as different icons, and the firepower from playing through several levels doesn’t change much.

As for the gameplay, the graphics and the flow are pretty good and run smoothly on my iPod Touch 2g v3.0. The visual explosions can be epic especially when you can shoot down several targets on top of each other. The actually flying is rather impressive because the controls are responsive and easy to use. I just wish the content was more complete to fill out the package.

Overall, Metal Sun has potential, and for the most part, the graphics are top notch. But the content needs to be built up because it lacks coherence. I think if you’re looking for a straight dogfight shooter with 3D graphics, Metal Sun is not a bad choice. You just won’t have much content or depth at least right now.

Albie Meter: 3.5 Stars (the graphics are impressive as is the free movement, but the content among other elements needs some rehashing to make this a great game)

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