One of the first types of game to appear on the PC, and indeed other computer platforms, was a cute little tank game. It appeared under many different names, but simply involved two (or sometimes more) tanks on a 2D landscape. You chose the elevation of your gun barrel and the power of the shot, pressed the space bar and fired. Sometimes you overshot your opponent and sometimes your shot would fall short. So you’d adjust the power and elevation again, after your opponent had had their turn. First one to hit their opponent was the winner.
Wild Metal Country is that game brought up to date. Gone are the 3D landscape and turn-based gameplay. Now it’s all 3D and with multiplayer support, similar to something like Battlezone but with a better sense of humour. It’s more accessible, too since it doesn’t take too much to control your tank – four keys for direction, two for turret swivel and one shot/power button. One thing that is retained is the fundamental aspect of the game. You have to use trial and error to judge the appropriate elevation and power of shot. So does your opponent, of course, so you’ll often end up in situations where you’re facing each other across a piece of terrain, firing shot after shot until one of you gets annihilated. If you get bored with that, there are several different kinds of non-player tank to be found and destroyed.
There are one or two little niggles. Some keyboards and controllers get a bit upset if you try to press five keys at the same time (i.e. two buttons for left and right track forwards, two buttons for turret left and right to centre the turret, and the space bar to fire), which can result in either a warning ‘beep’ or the distinct lack of a round being fired. So this game is probably best played with a joystick instead of the keyboard. Graphically things can tend to get a little dull. There are plenty of undulations in the scenery in which you can hide, but other than a few wheeling birds and helicopters, it’s all a bit barren. Obviously that’s part of the ‘scorched Earth’ storyline…
As far as the gameplay itself is concerned, Wild Metal Country isn’t bad. It’s satisfying enough when your shot finally hits the target, and there are plenty of power-ups and extra weapons to be found while roaming the landscape. It would have been nicer if the movement of the tanks was a little more immediate, though. It feels as though you’re roving over the moon, so slow and bouncy are the tanks’ movements. A bit more fierce power would be nice.