Witness Me! - Heavy Metal Machines (REVIEW)
written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
High octane vehicular combat games have gone the route of cartoony platformers in the landscape of current gaming, something that I always lamented having grown up with titles like Twisted Metal making up much of my most favorite memories as a kid. So in a gaming landscape where MOBAs and Battle Royale games reign supreme, can a vehicular combat game grab player's attentions? The folks at Hoplon Infotainment want that to be true, and they make a concerted effort to do so.
Enter Heavy Metal Machines, a 4v4 free-to-play vehicular MOBA (their words not mine). After a few rounds and when I finally grasped the gameplay, I started to question the decision to call it a MOBA. Calling Heavy Metal Machines a MOBA would be the same as calling Overwatch a MOBA. While both games incorporate MOBA-like elements such as varied player roles, an ability system, and ultimates... there isn't much else tying it to the MOBA genre. There are no towers to destroy, minions to kill, or bases to destroy... well, kind of.
At its core, Heavy Metal Machines is more like Rocket League plus capture the flag with MOBA tropes. Every round starts with a bomb dropped in the center of the map, your objective is to race to the bomb before the opposing team and deposit it in the enemy team's base. Three points win the match, what keeps the game interesting is how the roles fit into Heavy Metal Machines. Split into three categories, much like other role driven competitive games, a balanced team gives you an advantage. Interceptors specialize in high damage abilities to protect their teammates while dealing heavy damage to the enemy, supports have abilities that keep your team alive, and finally transporters are experts at delivering the payload. While players can drive pretty much anywhere on the map, if you have the bomb you are forced to follow the road thanks to a barrier that prevents whoever has the bomb from crossing lanes.
Since my experience with top down MOBAs has always been using a KBM interface, I opted for that in my review, though I don't think gamepad support is in the game yet. Positioning your mouse sets the direction you drive with LMB bound to accelerate and RMB to reverse. Abilities are set to the Q, W, E, and R keys with Q set as a low cooldown basic attack and R set as the ultimate which requires a lengthy cooldown. Controls took some getting used to, the turns are sharp and during my first couple matches I found myself totaling my ride more so from environmental damage than from enemy drivers. It does “hit you” eventually and once you take the time to understand the game's controls, you'll have yourself a grand old time with it.
Thanks to simple rules, you get the ball in the hole, jumping into a match requires little acclimation. At this point though, what does tend to drag on is the lack of gameplay modes. I know the developers have plans, and to judge it harshly from that may seem unfair... but as of today, the 30th of September when I am posting it, the game lacks the variety to make it one you can play for hours on end.
As an eSport, an ambition the developers have expressed, I feel like it could work but with tweaks. The core gameplay as it sits feel like matches will end too soon, something that can make watching matches more digestible... does keep you wanting more if you are in the audience. I feel that to really make it a credible eSport they need to find a healthy balance between quick pick-up-and-play and the lengthy DOTA like matches of other MOBA tournaments.
Overall, Heavy Metal Machines was fun but short lived. The lack of variety left me wanting and despite trying different roles, drivers, and maps, I feel this is a “jump in and play for a match or two” kind of game rather than the “holy crap how is it 1AM already?” type of game. That isn't a totally bad thing and I have the utmost faith that Hoplon Infotainment can deliver on their promises, perhaps I'll need to review it again after a year and see where they've gone... but as of now, a fun vehicular game worth the download. Plus, it's free guys, just give it a shot and see if it's your jam.
3.5 out of 5
Fun in short bursts