A technical achievement...that's all.
Metal Head is an astounding technical achievement.
Not only is around 10 minutes of voice over work crammed into the tiny 32x cart but the music, graphics and overall presentation are top notch.
First of all, look at the screenshots. What you see there is a fully texture mapped 32x game. I don't care what people want to say about the 32x but what you have there is a testament to how powerful the add on was and still is.
The game is colorful, full of vibrant explosions and detailed (for the time) texture mapped mechanoid miscreants for you to lay waste to.
Not only that but Sega has done a really good job of mimicing a video feed being fed into your Metal Head as your grizzled commander mumbles orders at you.
Sega has done a great job of getting the sound processor in the the 32x and the sound processor in the Mega Drive to work in tandem to create a rich audio experience. Music good, sound is good and the voice over work packed onto the cartridge is nothing short of applause worthy.
Your Metal Head controls really well. There are multiple camera angles, different control schemes and many ways to approach missions.
Missions play out in grid like cities or wide open buildings and obviously you need to adjust your strategies accordingly to survive, watch your ammo usage and prepare your Metal Head accordingly at the shop in between missions to adequately prepare yourself.
While the core gameplay is solid it becomes an exercise in tedium when you realize that all your mission objectives essentially amount to is "blow x objective up" or "occupy x area."
The amount of customizablity options regarding your Metal Head are sorely limited.
Don't expect any Mechwarrior style depth. Additionally later in the game you will encounter enemies so ridiculously overpowered that you might be put off of the game.
The engine is just trying to do too much. The frame rate is erratic and the draw distance is horrendously close to you at all times.
Meaning you will be walking down a street and suddenly three feet in front of you several high rises will appear.
On top of that although the texture mapped models are fantastic there are no attempts at creating anything even mildly pseudo 3D apart from them. Everything else looks stock straight out of a Mega Drive game.
It's a conflict, between two sides, you both have vehicles and giant robots. It could be any game.
The Bottom Line
A technical achievement on the 32x.
Some of the stuff in Metal Head needs to be seen to be believed. Unfortunately the game itself is short, difficult and painfully light on content.
There are limited Metal Head customizability options and the missions become repetitive quickly.
The presentation, sound and graphics however act as a showcase for what we could have seen on the 32x if it wasn't so ill conceived.