Metrocide

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
Metrocide Game Poster Image
Cartoonishly violent shooter challenges and frustrates.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

It’s kill or be killed, so all your choices here are bleak.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The cops are here to enforce order, but even they shoot first and ask questions second.

Ease of Play

Plenty of tutorials, but it’s still very difficult.

Violence

From the top-down perspective, all you end up seeing is pools of blood. But you'll see them a lot.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Metrocide is a downloadable action game that's quiet but tense and straightforward but only for the patient. A single play session can last as long as one minute or 15 depending on skill and resourcefulness, which can only be cultivated after you fail a lot -- which players will do from the get-go. The game plays out in top-down perspective, meaning you get a bird's-eye view of the action. You play as contract killer T.J. Wrench, who racks up hits in a barbaric and dark cityscape crawling with gang members, bots, vigilantes, and cops. Everyone is out to get everyone else; everyone is just trying to survive. Whether players do so depends on how watchful and defensive they can be.

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What's it about?

In METROCIDE, you play as T.J. Wrench, a hit man trying to save up enough money to get out of the horrible city he finds himself in. The only way to do that is by taking assignments from various contacts. The longer you survive, the tougher it gets: If you leave witnesses or even accidentally got spotted by a security cam's gaze or a passerby, the cops will be alerted to your presence and dispatched without delay. Although they pose a problem, so do all the passersby, as they're not gun-shy either. Unlike in other games such as Grand Theft Auto, though, once police awareness has been raised, it never falls. So, you must play carefully and strategically.

Is it any good?

Metrocide is a top-down arcade-like shooter for people who love the hunt, in the vein of Hitman or even Assassin's Creed -- to a certain extent. Unlike those other games, Metrocide holds your feet to the fire; once you've freaked out witnesses and roused the cops, you'll never be able to decrease your "wanted" level. What that means is that once you make a mistake, you have to live and die by it. And, typically, you will die by it. You must progress carefully, being mindful of which assignments you take on from your contact: He holds the keys to whom you'll go after next and the stakes your next target entails. Given that you start the game with next to no gear, you can't brute-force your way through making progress. It's tough, and it'll only get tougher for yourself if you allow it.

Despite the gratuitous tutorials, it's very easy to get lost. For example, it seems like you don't have a weapon at first, which raises a serious problem: if you don't have a way to complete any contracts, how do you earn money to buy better weaponry from a vending machine? Only after a random amount of button mashing and mouse clicking is it revealed that you start the game with a laser pistol. Similarly, things get clunky and counterintuitive when you do amass a formidable armory. (It's unclear how to best utilize your weapons until you've tinkered with them, which inevitably alerts the cops or almost always places a target on you before you even know it.) It's two steps forward, one step back when you start making headway -- but that's just the kind of game Metrocide is. There's a considerable learning curve despite its bare-bones control scheme (which is a good thing!). Just don’t expect to hop in and make progress right away.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Is the impact of the violence here lessened because of the top-down focus of the gameplay?

  • Families can talk about this dystopia and the sort of economy it ends up creating. Why are people pushed to do things for a living they might not do otherwise?

  • Your civic duty is to help society stay, well, civil. Would you ever place someone under citizen’s arrest? Why, or why not?

Game details

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