Published on May 14th, 2014 | by JC Richardson2
Metal Earth: The Gray Matter Review
Metal Earth: The Gray Matter is a spin-off from Daniel J Wente’s popular sci-fi novels, where humanity has been forced off-world by a catastrophic meteor impact and now live on massive space stations. These future frontiersmen are beset on all sides by threats both domestic and alien, and the books are a cracking read if you’re a fan of the genre. This is all good, but we’re here to talk about the game, and I’m happy to say Glaring Productions have re-created the rich multi-layered game world very neatly indeed.
Essentially, the core of Metal Earth (pardon the pun) is a 16-bit top-down shooter, where you move your character from one fixed cover point to another, blowing away enemies and advancing through the stages, facing mini-games along the way. Believe me, this simplistic description doesn’t do the game justice, as you’ll see when we look in more detail. Moving from cover to cover leaves you exposed to fire, but with judicious tapping you can duck in and out to take enemies down, grab ammo, etc. The enemies are pretty smart too, and will try and out-manouver and flank you when they can.
Just creating your character is an event in itself, with options that you’d normally only expect from a much bigger budget RPG. You choose a career path ranging from soldier to scientist, an origin story which gives you various starting abilities, with secondary characteristics to choose from as well. You really make the character your own here, and your choices make for very different playthroughs of the campaign. Needless to say, re-playability is high.
Along the way, you meet NPCs to converse with and receive missions from – just how you complete them is up to your skill set. Stealth builds work great, as do tank-ish types. I’ve been playing as a drone-dispensing engineer, but I recommend you try a few different classes to get the full experience.
The mini games you’re confronted with are all familiar archetypes: there’s a top-down space shooter, a cut-the-right-wire bomb game, security hacking sim and more. These are all neat diversions, and can be played seperately as they’re unlocked,which is a nice touch.
There’s a vast codex of data on the game world to peruse, and fans of the books will really dig this. Overall, Metal Earth is a classic space-opera, and not just for fans of the books.
Summary: A simple game style hides a genuinely deep and challenging experience. Well recommended for any sci-fi / rpg fan.