By – Jarrett Riddle

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On a dark and rainy evening, a gentleman in a trenchcoat rushes past a crowd and ducks into an alleyway. Keeping his eye on a woman lighting a cigarette, he slyly removes a pistol from its holster and draws. The observant young lady somehow notices this, and dashes into the street, screaming about gunman’s presence to anyone who will hear. This is Metrocide by Flat Earth Games, and you are the unfortunate one she is yelling about. Time to high-tail it out of there before the police drones arrive.

Metrocide places you in the shoes of a male or female hitman-for-hire who must stealthily (or not) fulfill randomly generated assassination contracts for various employers across the city. After doing these jobs long enough, you’ll have enough money to purchase papers that allow passage out of that part of town. With cops, gang members, and vigilantes out there just itching to perma-kill you, each task will need to be planned thoroughly. Having the right weapon or tool could be the difference between life and death.

Starting out, the player has only the shirt on their back and a shoddy pistol. What renders this weapon ineffective is its charge-up time before being fired. This gives the would-be victim plenty of time to turn around and get a good glance at you before running off to tell the police. Thankfully, more advanced weaponry can be unlocked by killing enough people. These guns can then be purchased at one of the many vendors throughout the area. Rifles and shotguns may cost more, but they’re worth it for their distance bonuses and lack of need for charging. Tools can also be purchased that help you out when in a bind. These include items such as the EMP grenade, which throws nearby police drones off of your tracks, and a holo-lure, which alerts and draws civilians and targets alike to its location.

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With mediocre starting gear, the best place to begin is with an easy job from an employer. When on one of these assignments, the player must simply find the person described and eliminate them by any means necessary. As one proceeds further into the game, more missions become available. These add obstacles and objectives to the base assassination task. Eventually, to maximize your income, you’ll be sniping a paranoid armed man within a time limit, while avoiding their bodyguard and dunking them into a sewer to evade arrest. With each addition, such as the guard, the money gained from completing the hit increases.

The target isn’t the only thing you need to worry about, however. Oddly, even though the city appears to have streets and crosswalks, flying vehicles are in full use. This unfortunately includes cops, which hover overhead and can ruin your day in a second. Gang members also cruise the sidewalks, itching to pull their weapon on you if given any reason. Civilians, while not armed, will rush to tell about your exploits if they catch you doing something suspicious. This combined with the watchful eyes of security cameras will ensure that you’ll have to use your wits to stay in the shadows. When police discover dead bodies, their overall presence in the area will increase, giving you even fewer places to hide. When the bogies have really had enough, they begin hiring assassins to take you out on the street. No one ever said the life of a hitman was an easy one.

While Metrocide is pretty easy to pick up and play, it is incredibly difficult to master. The amount needed to purchase travel papers for the first level is a modest 2,000 credits, which can be obtained after a bit of trial and error. The second level requires 4,000, however, and adds security checkpoints that will alert the police if stepped through while carrying good weapons.

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The difficulty curve here is quite steep, and you’ll often find yourself being successful or dead by mere chance. Once killed, credits earned becomes zilch and the whole process starts all over again. Even the hardest jobs supply just 400-500 credits, so many assassinations will have to take place to complete the stage. This number doesn’t include the money needed for weapons, ammo, and tools needed.

After a few hours, hits start to become repetitive. Even if the mission has additional objectives such as stealing a briefcase or hiding the body, they all feel very similar. Every person in the game has a name, and targets even have ages and smoking preferences, but everyone behaves the same in the end. It feels a tad dull following your 16th mark down a sidewalk for five minutes, hoping civilians will clear out or they’ll turn down an alley. Eventually, I get impatient and go wild with a shotgun, slaughtering everyone who may or may not be a witness. Sure, the police will be ticked, but they probably would’ve been anyway!

As far as story goes, there isn’t much of one. You’re basically just a hired gun trying to get out of town. Each stage is introduced with a well-done, albeit short, comic page. While these don’t add a lot to the storyline, they’re still a nice touch that at least serve to give you a purpose for playing. Completing the basic story mode of an area also opens up other ways to experience such as a points-only playthrough and Dead Trench Walking, which has the player completing the entire game without dying.

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Metrocide is displayed entirely from a top-down, mixed 3D perspective. A pleasing mix of colors combined with nice effects such as falling rain and light poles make the game a pleasure to view, though there are smaller options than my 1920×1080 resolution. Sounds play an important role in building atmosphere as well. The voice of a salesman trying to shill out personality replacement products as you slosh through the dreary streets will put you in the mood for some good ol’ slaying for sure.

Controls are easy to learn, as they use the W, A, S, and D keys for movement, while relying on the mouse for turning. Shift can also be used to slow your walk down, so that paranoid smoker won’t take off when they see you coming. Tab and Space are pressed to change weapons or use a secondary tool, respectively. Menu navigation is equally simple, as it uses just the arrow and E keys to select options.

Several bugs were encountered during my time with the game, most of them resulting in a crash to desktop. Several times when exiting out of a sales vendor, the game will exit. Also, a few times when fleeing from a police drone, the game ejected me and I was forced to start the level again. These events happened frequently enough to be irritating, and I’m now a little paranoid when I get a decent amount of money built up.

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Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?

Metrocide is a smart, original title that will keep you addicted for a few hours. After this initial feeling wears off, you’ll probably still want to come back every so often to get just another little taste. There’s many aspects of the game that I certainly enjoy, but there’s several major ones that could use more expansion.  While Metrocide is in no way a bad game, the $12.99 asking price is a bit steep in the modern, saturated indie market. I recommend paying the full amount for this game only to those in love with the setting, or crave old-style top-down experiences.

Metrocide Technical Summary:

Metrocide Review Sum

  • Time Played – 8 Hours
  • Widescreen Support – Yes
  • Windowed Mode – Yes
  • Resolution Played – 1920×1080
  • Bugs/Crashes Encountered – Several
  • DRM – DRM-free when purchased through GOG
  • System Specs – 3.7 GHz AMD A10-6700, 768MB Radeon 8670D, 8GB RAM
  • Control Scheme – M/KB
  • Saved Game Location – SteamApps\common\Metrocide\saves
  • Acquisition Method – Review Copy
  • Availability – GOG, Steam
  • Demo – No
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