Metal Max Xeno Reborn Review – Rough Around the Edges

Despite its lack of graphical finesse or any degree of subtlety in any department, Metal Max Xeno Reborn is a fun time with some unique twists on the traditional JRPG formula.

Posted By | On 10th, Jun. 2022

Metal Max Xeno Reborn Review – Rough Around the Edges

The JRPG genre has been seeing a resurgence over the last decade, likely spurred on by the success of games like the Persona franchise. The entire genre has historically been categorized by its penchant for the absurd; insane enemy design, crazy character designs, and overly dramatic—bordering on operatic—storylines. Metal Max Xeno Reborn is definitely right at home in this genre with its contemporaries.

Just reading through Metal Max Xeno Reborn’s descriptions make it sound absurd in all of the best ways. You get a dog that can use guns, and the setting is named Distokio—because it takes place in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian Tokyo. There’s even a progress bar tracking humanity’s extinction levels. It’s all fairly absurd, but in an entertaining, earnest way. Whoever thought up these ideas likely thought that they were the best ideas ever, and that’s awesome. Sadly, a lot of these ideas are bogged down by an antiquated interface, a surprisingly predictable story, and dull level design.

"It’s all fairly absurd, but in an entertaining, earnest way. Whoever thought up these ideas likely thought that they were the best ideas ever, and that’s awesome. Sadly, a lot of these ideas are bogged down by an antiquated interface, a surprisingly predictable story, and dull level design."

Despite looking at the vast open desert in front of you in the first hour of the game, it’s quite easy to get tired of it all rather quickly. There’s only so much one can go around fighting giant ants, after all. And a large part of the game is spent in that desert. Of course, it certainly doesn’t help that the desert doesn’t really allow for much in the way of exploration. There are a lot of invisible walls, and sure, some of them are to encourage players from getting out of their tank to explore on foot, but others are purely there just because there’s nothing beyond those invisible walls.

A key selling point for Metal Max Xeno Reborn is the fact that you get a highly-customisable tank early on, and more vehicle options later. And despite the terrible menu designs, it’s actually quite fun to play around with different loadouts for your tank once you get around to unlocking new guns and slots to put them in. Managing to use the tank’s cannon on an enemy before they can see you is quite satisfying.

Speaking of vehicle customisation, the level offered here is quite impressive. Be it tanks, buggies, or even school busses, driving around murdering enemies with missile launchers duct-taped to your vehicle’s roof doesn’t really get boring. Sadly, a lot of these aspects are poorly explained, and trial-and-error is often the best way to go.

Metal Max Xeno Reborn’s strongest suit is its combat. It uses a twist on the classic turn-based JRPG combat formula. So here’s how it works: if an enemy spots you, a bar starts filling up at the top of the screen. You can quickly use your own weapon to fire an opening salvo, kicking the fight off in earnest, or just back off and ignore the enemy altogether. Once combat starts, an adaptation of Final Fantasy’s Active-Time Battle system kicks in, letting you attack only once a tiny circle in the corner of the screen fills up. All in all, it’s a pretty fun system, especially since it features free movement even when it’s not your turn. The only real knocks against are the absurdly-slow aiming of the tank’s guns, and the low difficulty, even early on.

metal max xeno reborn

"A key selling point for Metal Max Xeno Reborn is the fact that you get a highly-customisable tank early on, and more vehicle options later. And despite the terrible menu designs, it’s actually quite fun to play around with different loadouts for your tank once you get around to unlocking new guns and slots to put them in."

Metal Max Xeno Reborn’s biggest problem is its presentation. Its menus feel like they weren’t really adapted particularly well for the PC. Buttons are gigantic, and a lot of information is nebulous at the best of times, lacking any real way to expand on, for example, what a stat means. PC games often have tooltips, and it’s a shame that Metal Max Xeno Reborn doesn’t make particularly good use of it. The tutorialisation is also quite poor, throwing big walls of text on the screen rather than presenting the finer points on how to play the game in a more interactive way.

Aside from the menus, Metal Max Xeno Reborn’s opening chapters are also incredibly boring. Not only are you going to be roaming around in the desert for hours, you’re also going to be killing a lot of ants. Ants and broken-down tanks make up for the bulk of the enemies in Metal Max Xeno Reborn’s opening hour. Even the story does little in the way of giving you much of a direction aside from “most humans are dead. Why don’t you go check in on some camps?” It isn’t until you get some sidekicks that the earnestly-stupid writing starts becoming quite endearing.

Metal Max Xeno Reborn’s gameplay structure might feel a bit too open in the beginning. Thankfully, you get used to the general openness, which allows you to spend quite a bit of time doing just about anything you want, from advancing the main story, to engaging in sidequests, to even just hanging out in your tank. It has a day-night cycle which, in the long run, doesn’t really amount to much more than maybe a few enemy placements being different.

metal max xeno reborn

"Metal Max Xeno Reborn’s gameplay structure might feel a bit too open in the beginning. Thankfully, you get used to the general openness, which allows you to spend quite a bit of time doing just about anything you want, from advancing the main story, to engaging in sidequests, to even just hanging out in your tank."

Of all the sidequests Metal Max Xeno Reborn offers, however, the bounties might just be some of the most fun activities. Essentially, you get a list of optional boss fights you can partake in at your leisure. In fact, the first time you come across a Bounty target—around the time when the game tutorialises the concept—you’re advised to retreat, and maybe come back to fight it when you’re stronger. A lot of the uniqueness I was hoping to see in enemy designs ultimately ended up with the Bounties, which while great, leaves the rest of the game worse off. The studio could’ve distilled the game down to just the vehicle customisation and Bounties, and I can make an argument that it would end up being an all-round superior game.

Thankfully it’s still a lot of fun kitting your tank out to fight specific Bounties. The Bounty list provides some hints to how you might approach the fight. One Bounty, for example, is said to be weak to electricity; better load up on some electric beam cannons. Another Bounty, basically a highly-armed drone, needs you to have anti-air weapons to fight it effectively. There are a fair number of Bounties, and honestly, they might just end up being the highlight of the game.

In terms of performance, the PC version runs quite well, which shouldn’t be altogether surprising considering the fact that Metal Max Xeno’s original release platforms also included the PS Vita back in 2018. It isn’t a particularly beautiful or demanding game, so high frame rates are almost a given. The graphics options, while quite anemic, provide at least a passable level of customisation. When it comes to being able to play with a keyboard and mouse, however, even the Steam page recommends using a controller instead, stating that keyboard and mouse isn’t supported.

metal max xeno reborn

"In terms of performance, the PC version runs quite well, which shouldn’t be altogether surprising considering the fact that Metal Max Xeno’s original release platforms also included the PS Vita back in 2018."

Metal Max Xeno Reborn is an absurd game, but it’s one with a lot of good ideas that ultimately work out, even if the cost of these ideas were a lack of general polish. The tank would undoubtedly feel better to control on a keyboard-mouse combo rather than a controller, at least in combat, and scaled-up PS Vita textures might not be the prettiest look. Metal Max Xeno Reborn is, however, saved thanks to its competent combat, a sincere attempt at telling a story that tries to have depth, interesting side characters, and surprisingly-fun optional bosses. And it has a dog that can use guns.

This game was reviewed on PC.


THE GOOD

Absurd setting; Dog with guns; Optional bosses are great.

THE BAD

Not pretty; Generally boring story.

Final Verdict:
GOOD
While it lacks some polish here and there, and its main story leaves a lot to be desired, the pure absurdity behind Metal Max Xeno Reborn helps make it greater than the sum of its parts. The vehicular combat is fun, and the optional boss fights are an all-round great time.
A copy of this game was provided by Developer/Publisher/Distributor/PR Agency for review purposes. Click here to know more about our Reviews Policy.

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