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JadeDragon's reviews and playing tips: Pocket PC games

Metalion 2: Mutant Uprising by ZIO Interactive, Price: $19.95
Reviewed September, 2003 by Howard Paw

After a brief hiatus, Zio Interactive, formerly known as Ziosoft, has come up with another major game release. This time, it once again brings to life one of Zio’s most popular 3D shooter games. Metalion 2: Mutant Uprising continues where the first Metalion left off, and that means more high-speed robot busting action.

With 8 levels of pure unadulterated sci-fi action, I was all ready and excited to start playing. Upon launching the game, the first thing that greeted me was a very sleek looking opening screen and a very techie looking menu screen which fits the overall theme of the game quite nicely. Similar to the first Metalion, you have 3 different types of robots to choose from, but unlike the original Metalion, the robots now are more customizable and you can enhance each property of the robot like firepower, shields, health, etc. by purchasing upgrades using the money you earn on each of the 8 levels.

The game is played in portrait mode using the stylus or D-pad and gives you a third-person 3D view of your robot and game play area. Using the stylus to move your robot is very smooth and combine that with two fire buttons (one fires regular guns and the other fires bombs) is a great way to play the game. Though it would have been better if there were an auto-fire option. You will pilot the robot and blast your way thru enemy space using your laser guns to demolish alien ships/robots while keeping yourself alive at the same time. The game can get very difficult especially during major boss battles, so it’s a good thing your robots now have the ability to charge up their weapon system. When your robot’s weapon level reaches its max, you can unleash heavy firepower at the alien fighters.

Graphically, the game looks a little better than the first Metalion: there are more elaborate backgrounds now and your robot and enemy spacecraft are rendered much more beautifully. The options screen, robot customization screens and other non-in-game screens look very slick! It is too bad though that Metalion 2 shares the same “quirk” as its predecessor: it’s often hard to estimate where the enemies are or where your shots are going to land since the 3D perspective isn’t very clear.

One thing I absolutely love about the game is the cool heavy metal inspired sound track, which fits nicely to the overall theme of the game. Sound FX is very similar to the first Metalion game. The game comes with two files, one supports the Pocket PC 2002 devices and the other one supports Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003 running on the iPAQ 2215. We’ve tested both versions.

As much as I like the gameplay, music, sound effects and mech customization of Metalion 2, there are more than a few glaring bugs that I encountered during actual game time that made me think that Metalion 2 was rushed to the market. The game behaves fine on our Dell Axim X5 Advanced running Pocket PC 2002, and reasonably well on an HP iPAQ 2215 with the game speed running just a little too fast. But on the HP iPAQ h5450, the overall speed of the game was noticeably slow, even with all graphic enhancement options (lighting, shadow, etc.) turned off. On both iPAQ 5450 and iPAQ 5555, the game doesn’t exit properly which meant having to soft reset the PDA. On the iPAQ 5450, I found that the game would erase your saved game files after you exit the game. It doesn’t run properly at all on the 5555 (music stutters majorly, menu interaction is very slow and it crashes on exit using both the 2002 and 2003 versions of the game).

The first Metalion was clearly a game ahead of its time; it was one of the premiere 3D shooting games during the early years of the Pocket PC. I loved that game, and spent countless hours playing it. I really tried my best to like the sequel, but with all the bugs in this release, I feel very disappointed in what could have been another great game from one of Pocket PC's most prominent game developers.

Playing Hints and Tips

Use the 3D flying space to dodge the bullets. Save the bombs for the boss fights, if you can. Buy upgrades based on your style of playing, enhance your weakest part first.

 

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Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics Excellent overall graphics, backgrounds, robot and enemy aircraft models looks very sleek. Too bad I can’t say the same for the animation.
Sound Sound track definitely rocks and the sound effects are nicely done. Every aspect of the sounds is in sync with the game. Sound track doesn’t play correctly on the iPAQ 5555, however.
Fun Meter The major bugs mentioned take all the fun out of this game, and depending on which Pocket PC you own, you may be extremely frustrated if you spent $19.95 on this bug laden game.
Addictivity Regardless of the bug, I still played it for a couple of hours on my iPAQ 5450, there’s just something satisfying about turning mutant spacecraft into space dust.


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