Review: Metrocide Sabriel Mastin March 19, 2015 Reviews 2 Classic noir and cyberpunk: the two genres seem to be so far apart from each other, with one tending to be like something out of the 1930s and the other set in the near future where everything is inexplicably neon. However, the world of Metrocide (by Flat Earth Games) combines the two in this gritty, futuristic world where you, a contract killer, must earn enough money to make your way to more affluent areas of town. By the late 2300s, the police were given nearly limitless power to severely punish anyone who committed a crime, from murder to parking illegally. The populace revolted, and fighting went on for months. The conflict was finally squashed by the powers that be, but people now live in a constant state of fear from others and the government. Enter the player. You are an assassin who must complete contracts to kill people in order buy your way out of town. It’s not easy, for one small mistake could end the game quickly and there are no save points. Getting out of the city requires patience; after all, you’re a hitman, not Rambo. In a top-down view similar to the original Grand Theft Auto, you navigate the streets and alleyways of Metro City, following your marks, hoping that they slip up and leave public areas where any number of witnesses or cameras could catch you in the act. You must plot out your kill carefully, for if anyone or any camera spot you, they will report your crime to the police with varying degrees of accuracy. A couple of times, I got wind of witnesses reporting my crime but giving completely inaccurate information, which caused the police to be on the lookout for someone else. If I was correctly reported, I had to be very careful to avoid any more incidents and dodge the increased police patrols. Should you get yourself into a bind, and you have the credits, you can pay for your hacker friend to wipe your name off police records. This process isn’t cheap and is off limits due to cost at the beginning of the game, forcing you to become good or struggle. As mentioned above, patience is a virtue in this game, as it may take quite a bit of tailing before your target finally makes a mistake. Your marks will wander into buildings and take very public paths to get to wherever they are going, ever testing you as you want to take that shot to get on with the game, but don’t want to put yourself under the suspicion of the police. Once your chance comes, you have to be quick with your shot or either a bystander may walk around the corner and catch you in the act or the mark may turn around and take you out themselves! The various weapons at your disposal all behave differently. Your starting laser blaster takes time to charge, making it more likely someone is going to walk up and see you before it finally fires. The next weapon, a shotgun, allows you to fire instantly but makes much more noise, attracting nearby people to the scene. Each weapon requires a different strategy, which you must figure out quickly since, again, one mistake could mean the end and you’ve no place to test your weapons out. Successfully completing a hit, you have a few options at your disposal to… dispose of the body. Leaving it out in the open will mean either someone will report the death to the cops, or a cleaning robot will find it and report it. To keep anyone from discovering the body, you need to hide it in either the city sewers or dump it into the river. It’s dirty work but it needs to be done. Repeat this process over and over, earning money as you complete hits to buy new guns and make your way to the next area of town. That is Metrocide in a nutshell. One thing that sticks out prominently about Metrocide is that there is no save feature except for that it saves if you’ve completed a section of the city. At first I hated this because it seems counter to modern game design. If something is going to be this difficult to advance in, I want to be able to save at any chance I get! However, with further thought on the matter, I realized that if that element were gone and I could save anywhere, the game would lose much of its moxie. It needs to be tough and strategy needs to be hard; otherwise, you could essentially run-and-gun, which would remove both much the point of and the difficulty from the game. It would be more like Hotline Miami than its own thing. My real complaints are with the non-existent inventory UI and store UI. Nothing in the game tells you which weapon you currently have equipped. I stumbled upon the fact that I can switch weapons with the number row. While that’s common in many games, nowhere does the game display hint at this, nor does it tell you what you have equipped or how much ammo that weapon has left. I was left wondering if the shotgun I purchased replaced my previous weapon or if I had to equip it manually. Since there is no visual cue for how much ammo you have left, you need to remember how many shots you’ve taken. If there was any kind of indicator of this information that I missed, I would love to know about it. The shop UI left me wondering what I could actually buy as most items were grayed out, unavailable for purchase, although it would also say I had enough money for a shotgun. I would walk away from the store empty-handed, confused about what I was missing. Suddenly, on one of my many restarts (I died a lot), the shotgun registered as available. I don’t know if I unlocked it somehow or if its not being available was a bug. Those issues aside, Metrocide was a hidden gem for me. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I sat down to play it for review, but I’m glad I did. It’s hard as heck, but your successes feel rewarding. When you lose, you know it’s because it’s your own fault. Stormbringer While I applaud the decision to not include review scores. I found the Pros and Cons breakdown a very useful summary of all of the points hit in the written review. I’d like to see its return, perhaps at the top of the review as a kind of table of contents. Matteo Lupetti Cyberpunk is heavily influenced by noir. Have you ever heard of a movie called “Blade Runner”?