A Heavy Metal Revolution!
I remember the event as if it were yesterday. The first CD I ever bought with my own money was Metallica’s heavy metal tour de force, “Ride the Lightning.” The powerful riffs and explosive vocals made my mother cringe, and I loved it. My friends and I were hooked on GoldenEye 007 at the time, and though we loved the shoot’em up action, we didn’t really like the soundtrack. So, that is when we decided to supplement our gaming tunes with my stereo system. Replacing the suave spy tunes of the game for the shredding licks of Kirk Hammett’s guitar was a welcomed change.
Over the years, heavy metal has been embraced by many gamers as their musical genre of choice. Many players of popular titles will turn off the music for the game and play heavy metal tracks to spice up the experience. Games such as Brutal Legend, Twisted Metal, and Bayonetta were designed to reflect rock n’ roll culture and art. The Brazilian indie game development company Hoplon definitely has some fans of the genre on their staff, and they have shown that through their creation of Heavy Metal Machines.
A few weeks ago I wrote up a “soft” review of the game highlighting some of its features and gameplay. The developers were generous enough to give me access to the games complete content; all of the drivers, skins, and cosmetics. So this time I am going full-bore with a complete review of the game, and you can bet it is going to be one wild ride.
Ready. Set. Go!
A Post-Apocalyptic Mosh Pit
The action of Heavy Metal Machines takes place in a dystopic future, where “road warrior” type gladiators square off against each other in a series of automotive death-matches. Each individual driver has a unique personality and style, as well as a backstory that explains their reasons for being in the matches. One of the competitors, Dirt Devil, is a desert pirate leader who is looking for gladiators to join him in the hunt for the giant sandworm that took his hand and eye. Another is Photon, a drifter who has been looking for lost technology in the wastes and ended up in the HMM tournament. Of course, I can’t leave out Little Monster, who is a little girl that drives her father’s monster truck to avenge his death. All of this is being done under the rule of a powerful and mysterious group known as the Metal Sect.
This tournament that the Metal Sect has arranged is not like your average battle to the death. No, this is more like a homicidal version of Rocket League. Instead of a ball, however, the drivers must deliver an active bomb into the goal of the opposing team. Each separate arena is set up like a race track in which those who are delivering the bomb must weave through barriers that the bomb itself cannot pass through to get to the opponent’s goal. This is being done while interceptors on the opposing team strive to strip the bomb away from the transporter by deadly force.
Grinding Out the Gameplay
Heavy Metal Machines is considered to be a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), but that is in name only. The gameplay itself is more closely tied to classic isometric racing games like Rock n’ Roll Racing and Super Off-Road than the modern MOBA. With this said, the controls also differ from most games within that genre. The vehicles accelerate and slow down through the use of the mouse. There is no auto aim in this game, instead, there is a crosshair with a cool down meter attached to it that shows where and when a weapon can fire. Steering is done by moving the mouse, so being able to drive, aim, and fire upon enemies becomes more a test of skill than just clicking on an enemy.
Though mastering the art of the “drive-by” may be difficult in this title, the rules of the game are actually quite simple. The matches are 4 vs. 4, and they are qued up on the title screen or pre-made by the players themselves. Once one of the three available arenas is selected for play, the player gets to choose their drivers. During play, each team must race to deliver the bomb into their opponent’s goal. The first team that makes three goals wins the match.
Machinations of Mayhem
The vehicles themselves are divided into three separate classes; transporters, interceptors, and support. The transporters are built specifically for delivering the bomb to the opponent’s goal and are often more durable or faster than the other vehicles. Interceptors are vehicles that are designed to strip the bomb away from their opponents, and they have a powerful payload that they use to do so. Finally, support units are used to repair their allies machines and hinder the progress of their enemies. Every player can find a roll that they can fill in the arena.
Each vehicle and driver have their own heavy metal persona. Heavy Metal Judge has this hardcore look about him, and his musical theme has a thrashing “death metal” quality. Clunker, the souped-up tow truck that is driven by two rednecks, has a distinct country rock theme. This attention to heavy metal culture is one of the things that makes this game both unique and fun.
Heavy Metal Machines is a game that is just beginning its rise to popularity. Along with being a fledgling title, there are some issues that this game has that will eventually be hammered out. As with most new MOBAs, there are some balance issues with the drivers. I had access to all of the drivers before everyone else I competed against did, so I was able to see where some of these drivers overpowered the others. I found that playing Black Lotus almost guaranteed a win for my team; he is small, fast, and agile, and no other machine could catch him when he had the bomb.
Since HMMs official launch yesterday, I noticed a few of these issues have been solved. The gameplay is difficult to negotiate, and often the cars become a clustered mess of metal and lead. This does not take away from the fun of the game though, because the announcer (Larry Huffman from the original Rock n’ Racing) is always telling you when “THE BOMB IS LOOSE!”
The Final Verdict
Heavy Metal Machines is a MOBA unlike any other. It is a fast-paced, action-packed tribute to heavy metal in the best way. The over-the-top heavy metal aesthetic of this title bleeds into the gameplay seamlessly, and everything from the drivers to the arenas showcase this. I highly recommend this game to everyone, even if they’re not a rocker!
With all of that said, I give Heavy Metal Machines 9 “rock fists” out of 10. This game is a free-to-play title and it is now available on Steam. Just remember not to headbang while you play, people die that way, you know.
DVS Score: 9/10