Metal Masters logo

INFOGRAMES * £24.99 Joystick

The beat-em-up has grown up. In fact it has grown into a couple of 100-feet high robots who don't mind beating the silicon out of each other. In the sport of the future it's not people who get hurt, instead it's robots who take the pounding.

In a cityscape arena the metallic monsters blast, pummel and generally try to reduce their opponents to a heap of iron filings. This sport is impressive to watch, harmless to humans, and keeps the scrap-metal merchants happy.

The body shop
Before any of this takes place though, the robots need to be built. For your first fights you have the default, and weakling robot, but wina battle and you get cash for your trouble. Cash can be spent on uprating your body parts for a leaner, meaner machine.

Three basic building blocks are used to build the oversized metal-men. Legs are needed to manoeuvre, arms with which to do the business, and a body unit to control and to hold the lot together. Many types of each are available, costing more the tougher or more deadly they are.

Parts can be sold too, though they depreciate in value the more worn they are. The more battles won, the better the robot you will be able to afford. This doesn't make things any easier though.

Let the battle commence
You will be fighting tougher adversaries the more experienced, and the more powerful, your robot is. There are two modes of combat. From afar you can fire missiles by holding down the button and pushing in the appropriate direction; up to shoot your head, left from your left arm and so on.

In close combat hits are scored with punching movements, allowing you to aim for different parts of the body depending on the direction the joystick is pushed in. This is fine for straightforward body blows, but things can get a bit messy when trying for those diagonal punches.

The computer-controlled robots are dead hard, they manage to avoid what you throw at them quite well, but always seem to manage to land blows on your mechanoid. It's a fair old struggle to win even your first fight.

Two's company
Metal Masters can be played on your lonesome, or against a buddy. The two-player game certainly offers the most fun; there's far more satisfaction to be gained by beating your chum three times in a row than in humiliating (or being humiliated by) the computer.

Underneath all the pretty graphics (and they are quite pretty), Metal Masters is a fairly straightforward beat-em-up. In fact it is quite limited in the number of fighting moves when compared with other, more conventional games of the genre. There's o backward somersaults here to get in a tactical position, instead it's merely a case of walking up to your opponent and bish bash bosh.

Added to that, the computer is a very tough opponent, seemingly unbeatable at first. And for these reasons it's frustrating to play and rapidly becomes boring. There's limited enjoyment to be had from playing one of your mates, but as far as long-term interest is concerned, forget it.