Released on December 2004 in Japan only, Metal Wolf Chaos is a very American game, and likely more American than 99.99% of other American games out there. You play as Michael Wilson, the U.S. President who managed to escape from his Vice President's coup d'état and is now working to retake the country by liberating its cities and states. In order to do so, you play in a souped-up armor and handing extreme justice on everything in your path.
Best time: Single-segment 0:40:12 by Sean 'MURPHAGATOR!' Murphy on 2014-03-30.
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This run started mostly as an excuse for me to play the game more to show off the fantastic cutscenes, but at some point I realized I had a mostly optimized route and should just as well record a run of it. The game is extremely obnoxious to run in a highly optimized route for various reasons, most of which boil down to dying instantly to dumb things.
Most of this run is abusing an oversight in the quick boosting mechanics. The energy bar is intended to limit your boosting pretty intensely, but when you have no energy left you can use some of the health bar to continue boosting. As long as you don't delve into a full bar of damage, your health regenerates after not taking damage for a while. By chaining quick boosts, the game drains some of your health, but since you haven't actually "taken damage", but rather just used some of your health bar as a resource, it regenerates immediately, meaning I can quick boost forever. This is a bit obnoxious and hard on the thumbs, because the input to do this is to hold the left stick button, then to slide the stick between up and right (or any other directions, up/right is just the way I am most comfortable with and so do the most often.)
The weapon choices are a combination of necessity and accessibility. I've never actually bothered to look up some of these translations, so I refer to the resources as dollars and scraps. There are a few weapons which would be extremely beneficial that I can't even come close to affording. The main one being the GL95/AA grenade launcher which would work in most of the fights I use the M72A3/BU's on but doing damage significantly faster and more reliably, but would require an investment of 468,000 dollars to unlock compared to the 27,500 needed for the M72A3/BU's. The RG50/SP rail gun would also be very beneficial on a few mid game stages as an additional weapon, but would require 408,000 dollars which again, are just not available. In general, all the useful weapons are at the very end of the tech trees, and so without grinding money, I just don't have the funding to get them. While there are weapon pickups to find in stages, they are generally not terribly useful, or don't show up until the very late game when I have better things available. I'll explain the weapons I do collect at the point where I find or buy them.
The in-game timer is extremely accurate, starting from the moment the save file is selected and ending at the final save after the cutscenes. I'm fairly certain it runs on the system clock, since the game can lag so much in some sections that if it ran on that it would lose large chunks of time.
The White House – Most of this stage is spent waiting for timers. From the start of the mission, there is approximately a 1 minute wait until the passageway opens. I use this time to kill some things for cash. The cutscene for the passageway opening won't trigger if you are standing too close to the statue, so I have to hang out away from it. I stop to kill the balcony because it skips a fight with several ground soldiers. Once I trigger the cutscene for the Air Force One takeoff, the mission is again on a timer, so I score more kills and collect the MML8.
Equipment Management - I replace the M24 sniper rifle with the MML8 instead of using the open slot because it prevents me from having to menu past the sniper rifle in missions, accidentally equipping it causes it to immediately scope which is obnoxious. The M24 does next to no damage and is therefore useless anyways. The MML8 is great against early game buildings, as well as a few other specific targets. The M870 shotgun and the M-29 pistol are both completely useless, but it is not worth the time to un-equip them manually since they are a placeholder for how I want my inventory organized later anyways. The M42A3 rocket launcher and M4A1 machine gun are the bread and butter for damage in the early game.
San Fransico – This mission is pretty much following a line to destroy all the called out targets. Absolutely all of them have to be destroyed to end this mission, so I follow the line and blow stuff up. The MML8's targeting is not particularly reliable, but it gets some pretty nice locks here. I'm not sure why I didn't already have the supercharge at the start of the Dorsey fight, so I had to advance and wait for it to finish charging. However, the fact that I was so close to Dorsey meant that I could turn and kill 2 more target buildings with the supercharge that I normally wouldn't be able to, so it worked out to be a wash.
Shopping and Equipment Management – I buy 2 of the M72A3/BU rocket launchers because they are pretty much the staple high damage weapon for the route. These drop a cluster of firebombs after traveling a set distance, and getting all of those bombs to hit results in some pretty insane damage. I put them in the slots that the M870 and M-29 were holding, the M72A3 and M4A1 stay since they still have some utility. I'd like to point out that while the menuing here looks very odd since some menus go by extremely fast and others I seem to kind of mess around on, I did this pretty optimally. The menus have delays based not only on which one you are on, but which way you are scrolling them, and they will basically always lag if the game has to load a model.
Phoenix – This mission is pretty crazy to get past considering I ignore the intended way the fights supposed to go. I cannot lock on to the mechs because they are cloaked, but fortunately the M72A3/BU's do not require a lock on to do huge damage. This mission could certainly go faster with better grouping and better guesses on the random actions the mechs take, but getting past this mission at all with this gameplan is pretty rough.
The Grand Canyon – Without a doubt this is the stage with the most problems. The MML8's targeting really screwed me over, and then I had a lot of poor menuing to make the problem even worse. That said, this entire mission is walking a tightrope since a single missed quick boost or loose missile hitting me often ends in a reset since I will either die or be putting in a position that would cost a full minute to recover from. Castina also dies at an extremely unfortunate time from burning damage, and my first attempt to recover bouncing off the bridge meant I had to go a slower route. I really want to improve the run as a whole someday, mostly because of this stage, but other projects that mean more to me at the moment prevent me from investing the time to do so.
Alcatraz – Most of this stage is skipped by boosting up the first cliff wall. Its extremely easy to lose time on this mission to the random scatter on the M72A3/BU's, destroying the door in a single volley is pretty rare, and getting it saves way more time than it really should.
Los Angeles – While the game claims a bunch of targets are critical, the only targets I have to destroy are the bombs. The easiest way to do so is generally to just trigger the bombs and let them blow up. I got some pretty horrible luck getting hit by missiles in this stage, but each instance only costs a second or so in a game where random events often cost 30 or more.
Houston – I have to destroy the targets to bring the boss into fighting range, after which it's trying to position a slow moving bomb to be over an enemy which spends the entire time at altitudes higher than I can reach. The Olajiwon fight can go faster, but the quick boosting around him at the end is completely suicidal since missing more than one quick boost or getting shot more than once results in falling into the water and dying instantly with no real way to recover.
New York – This boss is intended to be unbeatable without destroying all the targets, but because it has to take a minimum amount of damage from every attack regardless and the M72A3/BU hits so many times, I'm able to fight him this way. In addition, if he ever acquires a lock-on with his main cannon, he will kill me unavoidably. My success rate with this strategy is probably less than 30%, and practice seems to have no bearing on how well I've been able to do it, since the lock-on time of his main cannon seems completely random.
Chicago – Another destroy all the targets mission, which is fortunate because it helps me make money I need pretty badly for later. I had a couple shots here I thought I missed but didn't, so I could have saved time by continuing on, but having continued if they hadn't died would have been extremely costly. Many of the targets here have much higher health values than the buildings in earlier missions, so I try to use the cluster bombs as efficiently as I can since they are out of damage range of the MML8. This results in a LOT of lag frames being generated, but I have no other real solution to killing everything.
Shopping – All the money I've built up to this point in the game goes to the GG-RH. This gattling gun is critical for several later game missions since it has gigantic DPS, is much more reliable to fire at small enemies than the M72A3/BU's, and doesn't generate lag like crazy. I replace the M4A1 with it since the M4A1 is not a reliable source of damage this late in the game.
Miami – The boat is the only objective here, and the GG-RH makes short work of it. The boat has 3 main sections, and while you CAN kill it with straight damage to the hull, destroying the section points is the most effective way to kill it. Boosting to it the way I did is fairly risky since it can randomly fire missiles in ways which aren't really avoidable, sending your mech falling into the water for a nice instant death.
Liberty Island – Destroy the tank, straight up. It has 2 triggered events at ¾ and ½ health remaining which slow this down a bit. With some pretty extreme luck its possible to kill him without getting the helicopter death cut scene, but it's fairly insignificant. I got good luck with the M72A3/BU's damage here and actually saved more time than I'd expect to be able to on a mission like this.
The White House – The indoor portion of this map is another destroy the targets mission. I have to use the M72A3/BU's here because I absolutely require the ammo from the GG-RH for the end of the mission. There's room for optimization here, mostly from how unreliable the M72A3/BU can be, and the supercharge midway through selecting targets extremely poorly. The mission ends with having to destroy the 4 turrets that have been added to The White House. Fortunately, some bad geometry here means I can fire the GG-RH through the floor to kill the turrets when they are supposed to be protected.
Shopping – I purchase 2 more GG-RHs because I need the damage output for the last 2 missions. I replace the M72A3.
Las Vegas – Starts off with a re-fight of two minibosses. Dorsey starts spawned on a bridge, so it's easy enough to send him falling into the drink. Castina stands no real chance against double GG-RH. Richard has 3 phases to the fight. The first phase can cost a whole lot of time if Richard decides to run, which he almost always does, since it's difficult to get the targeting to hit him reliably and he generates lag like crazy while destroying the slot machines. Phase 2 is pretty straightforward after knocking him off the roof since he just doesn't have much room to avoid you. I collect an ammo pickup from the crates before Phase 3, which is sort of in-between with less room for him to run than Phase 1, but a more open area so he can dodge shots. At critical health, he triggers a supercharge, during which he is invulnerable and will definitely kill me if he tags me with a random hit from.
Outer space – Auto-scroller! Nothing much to say other than destroying the airlocks before the shut to keep the elevator moving. The Richard fight here can end the run if he fires his main cannon before I can get to the stairs. Climbing up and hiding the way I do prevents him from moving, which maximizes the damage the M72A3/BU will do, along with preventing lag since he will just generally not shoot much. Going at him with the GG-RH does very little damage for some reason, and outside of the GL95/AA and the RG-RH, I haven't really found another good way to do damage. The last form is wrapped up with a supercharge, and the United States is saved.
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