Video Game / Metal Fatigue

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Metal Fatigue is what happens when you take Command & Conquer, replace the infantry with vehicles and the various tanks with Humongous Mecha. Developed by Zono Inc. and published in the US by Talon Soft and in Europe by Psygnosis in 2000, it stands out from similar games by boasting a three-level battlefield and customization of the game's primary units, called Combots.

The single-player campaign tells the story of three brothers: Diego, Jonus and Stefan Angelus, as well as three "CorpoNations",: Rimtech, Mil-Agro and Neuropa Limited. Each CorpoNation has its eyes set on a distant world where a cache of potent alien technology is believed to be hidden. Armed warfare ensues between the three as soon as each makes planetfall. In the opening Cut Scene, the three brothers, working for Rimtech, find an alien Energy Weapon while on patrol. Diego, the eldest brother, understandably plans to take the weapon back to their superiors. Jonus, the middle brother, has other plans, however, stating that Neuropa would pay top dollar for the technology. An argument ensues, and would have come to blows were it not for a sudden Mil-Agro airstrike. In the ensuing chaos, Stefan, the youngest brother, is hurled over a cliff, Jonus escapes with the alien weapon and Diego returns home empty-handed, believing Jonus a traitor and Stefan killed in action. However, Stefan turns out to have survived his fall, though he was implanted with a mind control chip by Mil-Agro and pressed into service as their newest champion.

Thus, the stage is set for brutal confrontation between the brothers and through them, the CorpoNations.

This game provides examples of:

  • An Axe to Grind: Mil-Agro's basic melee arm does fairly good damage despite being early tier, though it is also quite heavy.
  • And I Must Scream: Stefan discovers the implants Mil-Agro put in his head the hard way when said implants force him to recite Rimtech military secrets to Zeke Cob when asked, unable to stop himself from speaking.
  • Archaeological Arms Race: Naturally, the best way to get the best parts is to find alien technology caches (as well as stealing parts you've blased off enemy combots).
  • Arm Cannon: Neuropa's Plasma Cannon. Rimtech's Energy Gun is actually stronger despite being smaller and lighter. Mil-Agro has the Gatling Arm and Cluster Bomb Arm. Neuropa also has a high-tech sniper Arm Cannon.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Problems with pathfinding are not uncommon, and units will sometimes suicidally rush off to their death while trying to pursue some inaccessible and unimportant enemy. The game offers a lot of options to let you control how each unit reacts to the enemy, which helps reduce this problem somewhat, but babysitting is still often necessary.
    • Mostly averted with enemies. Their AI usually avoids above problems and on the plus side when supplied with enough energy AI enemies will probe your defenses and put pressure on weak points or even sneak cloaked units past your defenses. That is as long as they have energy supply - when they run out they attack till they're reduced to buildings and civil units.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Neutron Bomb armament for railgun platforms temporarily disables buildings and kills the crews of critically damaged combots, but deals no direct damage.
  • Beehive Barrier: The Point Defense structure generates a number of floating energy discs that orbit around the structure and deflect incoming railgun shots.
  • BFG: Neuropa Sniper Laser Arm and Rimtech's Long Missile Arm. Both inflict massive damage at a very long range, but take a long time to recharge.
  • BFS: Rimtech's Katana Arm. Not as good as late-game melee weapons, but has a fairly good chance at amputating the arms of enemy combots.
  • Boring but Practical: The Orbital Bomb loadout for railgun platforms is exceedingly expensive and slow to build, reloads slowly and can be stopped with Point Defenses, but deals a heck of a lot of damage where it hits. The large radius is enough to wipe entire asteroids clean of Solar Panels and thereby put a serious dent in the enemy's resource income.
    • There is no way to stop a surface-based outpost set to launch mode from teleporting to the nearest asteroid above. Thus it doesn't matter how fortified an asteroid is, teleporting a few Nemesis vehicles up there tends to crack those fortifications in very short order.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Even lone Hedoth Spider Tanks can give a poorly-fitted Combot serious trouble. En masse? You'll need a lot of combots to take them out. Maybe a lot of artillery, too...
    • On the other hand, Hedoth tanks tend to not wander away from their starting positions, so Outpost-teleporting or elevator-transporting Nemesis vehicles right next to them tends to eliminate them with minimum fuss.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Turns out the reason why Mil-Agro troops are so brutal in combat is because every single one of them is outfitted with mind control implants that prevent them from acting on any thought contrary to their orders, such as sparing enemies out of conscience.
  • Cain and Abel: There are elements of this between Diego and Jonus, but Stefan is a wild card.
  • Chainsaw Good: Neuropa's top-tier melee arm, essentially a rotary saw made of plasma.
  • Character Customization: In a sense. You can mix and match torsos, legs and arms to create a variety of different combots. Figuring out which setups work best is a key aspect of success.
  • Color-Coded Characters: With general appearance style to boot. Rimtech units are blue, with their combots having a rounded, Tron-esque appearance. Mil-Agro units are red, with boxy shapes, and visible bolts. Neuropa units are an odd purple and green mix, and have alien-like organic shapes and cycloptic eyes on their combots.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides: Averted for the most part. Aside from the most basic parts, each side possesses a completely different arsenal of combot parts. Units and structures are functionally identical, but each side's stuff has sharply different armor values. The same vehicles also have a varying ratio of kinetic to energy damage for each side: Mil-Agro leans towards more HP, doing more kinetic damage and having better defenses against energy damage, while Neuropa does the opposite and Rimtech balances between the two. At the end of the day, however, a Rimtech tank works exactly the same way as a Neuropa Hover Tank and the Mil-Agro Matter Converter is exactly the same structure that Neuropa and Rimtech have, just with a boxier model and a chromatically superior paint job.
  • Death from Above: The game features fighters and bombers, which if shot down can hurt whatever the debris lands on (fighters are barely an annoyance in this regard while bombers do tons of damage in a wide radius). Combots can also be equipped with certain parts to fly. There is also an entire orbital layer of battle in addition to the surface and underground sections. You can build on the asteroid platforms up there.
    • Even better: If a fighter or bomber is shot down on the orbital layer and doesn't land on an asteroid, it will fall down to the surface layer and crash there. Similarly, if a bomber starts doing a bombing run, any bombs that don't hit something will fall straight to the surface and do damage as usual... except that this kind of attack cannot be protected against via AA defenses.
    • It is also possible to build railgun Orbital Bombs, which take ages to reload but can take out entire armies of small units with a single hit, or slowly wear away the enemy's base from halfway across the map. Provided the enemy doesn't have a Point Defense structure set up, of course.
      • The little brother of the Orbital Bomb takes this trope to an entirely different level: the Tectonic Torpedo can fire through the ground to attack underground targets.
  • Drill Tank: The Drill Truck, though it's not much of a tank. The drill is used for making new passages underground and drilling into Hedoth structures.
  • Drop the Hammer: Mil-Agro's top-tier melee arm with raw damage unrivaled by any other melee arm in the game. On the other hand, it is also the heaviest arm in the game, requiring Strength Legs or Speed Legs to be dual-wielded without slowing the combot down.
  • Easily Detachable Robot Parts: Arms can be ejected and re-attached at any time, even while in battle. In fact, bladed weapons frequently amputate arms in battle - especially if the wielder has Mil-Agro Steady Legs that increase the chance of this happening.
  • EMP: Rimtech has an EMP Torso that deploys a damaging area-of-effect pulse. Unlike the Blast Pulse Legs, this one only affects combots and while combots that get hit with this show visible sparks for a few moments, it doesn't actually disable them. However, each side has access to the Nemesis vehicle that explodes with respectable splash damage when destroyed, but if an enemy combot is in range, the Nemesis' kamikaze explosion releases an EMP. Unlike the Rimtech torso's version, this one disables every combot in its range for a few seconds. Even Hedoth combots.
  • Faction Calculus: Rimtech (Balanced), Mil-Agro (Powerhouse) and Neuropa (Subversive).
  • Five Rounds Rapid: This is about all tanks are good for against Combots. Missile Tanks are slightly more effective, however. Used en-masse, Missile Tanks can quickly tear down a lone Combot.
    • Expect this to happen any time you come up against the monstrous Hedoth Combots, which can put the hardiest human-made designs to shame and dish out even more damage.
  • Flight: All sides have a part (Rimtech has Jumpjet Legs, Mil-Agro and Neuropa have a Jumpjet Torso) that has pathetic HP, but makes the combot capable of flying. While in the air, combots behave like ordinary aircraft: they use the same movement patterns, can only be attacked by ranged weapons, etc. Also, combots can fire ranged weapons from the air and if ordered not to engage in melee, they stay floating in mid-air while gunning for the target. On the other hand, a flying combot has no armor whatsoever until it lands, so massed AA can take it out very quickly.
  • Fragile Speedster: This can be combined with the above trope. If you manage to equip a combot with both a Jumpjet Torso and Jumpjet Legs, it'll have next to no HP besides what the arms contribute, but it'll fly very fast, allowing it to rapidly get into position where it can do the most damage and escape with impunity when the enemy counterattacks.
  • Gatling Good: One of Mil-Agro's ranged arms and the only hitscan arm in the whole game, making it highly efficient against aircraft. The Flak Torso has a stronger Shoulder Cannon version.
  • Grand Theft Prototype: Some campaign missions start out with you needing to do this.
  • Guide Dang It: The weight mechanic is not explained anywhere in the game or the manual. Weight values are also impossible to find other than by trial and error.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Brik Cob goes through this after he released Stefan and his crew from Cob control.
  • Heel Realization: Diego has one when he finally catches up to Akiri and is about to crush him with his own destroyed combot's wreckage when Stefan shows up and warns Diego that killing Akiri to avenge Issadora will start a Cycle of Revenge.
  • <Hero> Must Survive: Present in every campaign mission, since you always have one of the three brothers (depending on faction) present in-game as a combot crew. Sometimes other characters from the storyline appear, and must survive, as well. It's usually easier to leave these "Hero" units out of harm's way for the entire mission, since it's easy to build standard combot crews to replace them, and between missions these standard crews can even be upgraded to equal the skill of the "Heroes". This leads to annoying Gameplay and Story Segregation as the post-mission de-briefings will often mention how awesome and absolutely essential the "Hero" units were to the victory, when in reality they may not have even set foot inside a combot at any point during the game.
  • Homing Projectile: Neuropa's Homing Missile, as well as Rimtech's Missile Torso and Missile Legs. Aside from the Missile Legs which can only fire at ground targets, all of them are competent anti-air weapons.
  • Humongous Mecha: They serve as your main attack force. Interestingly enough, they are piloted Motion Capture Mecha style (à la Mobile Fighter G Gundam), but also require a support crew who operate a ring of control consoles around the pilot's center platform. They're also damn big, dwarfing the tanks and artillery pieces that support them.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: The AI names in Multiplayer/Skirmish are meaningful, though like weight this is never explained. Lord Bedlam, MadDog and Sgt. Dolt (Neuropa, Mil-Agro and Rimtech) are the 'stupid' practice AIs.
  • Invisibility Flicker: Neuropa Camo Torso. Cloaks every friendly in-range, but the effect is broken as soon as they attack.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Rimtech units and Combot parts are this.
  • Large and in Charge: The Rimtech Armored Torso has the highest HP value of any non-alien Combot part and some real mean armor.
  • Laser Blade: Rimtech's Laser Sword Arm, superior to the Katana in damage output.
  • The Laws and Customs of War: Before full-out war broke out, the three CorpoNations settled disputes by agreeing to stage fair and balanced battles on pre-determined battle-fields.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: comes in two flavors. Rimtech's Energy Shield is a Beehive Barrier geared toward energy defense while Neuropa's K-Shield is essentially a combot-sized riot shield geared against kinetic damage. Both increase the combot's health by a notable amount when equipped.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: A possible build for a pure Rimtech Combot. Just don't get tied up in close combat though.
  • A Mech by Any Other Name: Combots, a portmanteau of "Combat" and "Robots".
  • Mecha Game: Fits the standard of relying heavily on unit customization. A bit of a toss-up as to whether it's more in the "Stompy" or "High-speed" categories: most combots are fairly slow, but it's possible to put together a high-speed build; there's plenty of tactical long-range weapons, but "hand-to-hand" combat is also very common (though it's also fairly slow-paced, with combots slowly swinging heavy weapons and shields at each other like medieval knights in rusty armor).
  • Mega Manning: The only way to get an opposing combot's parts is to salvage it after or during combat, although the "during combat" part only works for arm parts. Bladed melee weapons and certain other parts help in this regard. Gathering parts is a necessity for success, so that you can form a more flexible battle strategy with your combots.
    • If you're fighting against Mil-Agro or Neuropa, this trope kicks into high gear. Mil-Agro has extra armor against energy attacks and have only kinetic weapons while Neuropa is the exact opposite. Since they're less resistant against the kind of damage they themselves inflict, jacking their weapons is surprisingly effective. The AI actually does this in the campaign.
  • Mêlée à Trois: It gets worse when the actual aliens show up to make a mess of things.
  • Mighty Glacier: Mil-Agro units and Combot parts are this. Also any Combot with all Armor parts, such as the Rimtech Armor Torso and Fists, and the Neuropa Armor Legs.
    • All non-leg combot parts have a certain weight, while legs have a maximum limit for the amount of weight they can carry. Overweight combots are limited to a brisk marching pace with Neuropa's Speed Legs and Ominous Walk with everything else. While Mil-Agro parts tend to be heavier, their Strength Legs have the highest weight capacity in the game. Of the mighty part, Mil-Agro again: their Power Shield Legs give extra armor against energy attacks but make the combot unable to do anything but Ominous Walk.
  • Mind Control: How the Cobs keep the rest of Mil-Agro in line: they outfit everyone else with neural implants that cause any Cob's orders to act as a Compelling Voice.
  • Mook Chivalry: Computer opponents will sometimes show a distressing tendency to attack your heavily-defended base with a few units at a time, over and over again, instead of attacking en masse. This is especially noticeable in the campaigns, though in Skirmish mode some of the AI settings seem to be a bit better about this.
    • Depends on map. In a mid-level mission in the Mil-Agro campaign, the Rimtech AI attacks with four or five combots at a time.
  • More Dakka: A possible build for a pure ranged Mil-Agro combot. It makes a devastatingly effective mobile anti-air platform as well.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: All three Angelus brothers have such a moment in their respective campaigns.
    • Diego, after disobeying his superior officer's orders and lying to said superior officer in order to get a shot at Akiri, only to end up going on a wild goose chase.
    • Stefan, after the Cobs force him to massacre the Rimtech training facility at New Providence.
    • Jonus also gets this near the end of the Neuropa campaign, resulting in him becoming The Atoner.
  • Nintendo Hard: This game doesn't screw around. This can often simply be Fake Difficulty however, due to the fact that The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard. Thought the Rimtech campaign was hard? Try Mil-Agro or Neuropa.
  • Power Fist: Every side has their own version as a mid-tier melee weapon. Rimtech's Armor Fist is a simple gauntlet, Mil-Agro's Blade Fist has Wolverine Claws and Neuropa's Power Fist has an energy blade mounted onto the knuckles. Aside from superior damage compared to early-game melee weapons, they are also quite light.
  • Real Robot Genre: Combots are built using parts researched in your faction's tech tree or stolen from the rival factions. They are expensive, but ultimately replaceable, their crews as well. Unless they've gained a few levels...
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Diego, after Akiri kills Issadora. Starts out as pulling rank on another commander to have an excuse to be in the sector where Akiri was last spotted, continues with him lying to his superior officer and disregarding a direct order to safeguard Sperry Ridge which gets most of the Rimtech Board killed in a Mil-Agro ambush and conveniently removes all traces of his insubordination, continues with him taking command of all of Rimtech to box the target of his rampage in and finally ends with him sparing Akiri when Stefan shows up and gives him a What the Hell, Hero? speech, warning Diego that he's about to start a Cycle of Revenge.
  • RPG Elements: Accomplishing missions and certain bonus objectives (such as succeeding within a time limit or completely wiping the enemy off the map without the mission objectives explicitly asking for it) rewards you with upgrade points that can be spent to upgrade your staff's neural interfaces. Combot pilots receive increased weapon damage, structures and vehicles get boosted firepower and reduced manpower requirements.
  • Rule of Three: Three brothers, three factions, three stories.
  • Shield Bash: How any combot that only has shield arms fights.
  • Shock and Awe: Neuropa's basic melee weapon is the Electrogrip, a large, three-fingered hand with a special attack animation that momentarily stuns enemy combots.
  • Shockwave Stomp: Rimtech's Blast Pulse Legs. Notable in being able to affect overflying aircraft, making it surprisingly useful at fending off harassing Hoverjets in a pinch.
  • Shoulder Cannon: Neuropa's Tracer Fire Torso, as well as Mil-Agro's Flak Torso and Howitzer Torso.
  • Shoulders of Doom: Rimtech combots crewed by a hero unit or a crew above level 4 get these.
  • Spread Shot: Mil-Agro's Cluster Bomb Launcher Arm, firing a salvo of bomblets in a roughly arc-shaped spread. Each bomblet does little individual damage, but they impact close enough together to stack up that Splash Damage and really put the hurt to enemy tanks.
  • Super Robot: Any combot that has at least one piece of alien tech can easily solo five enemy combots. The only way to eliminate one without taking losses is by air assault - and that's if it doesn't have a ranged weapon. If it does, well...
    • Also a rare aversion of Cutscene Power to the Max from the intro cutscene. They really are (well, almost) that dangerous. On the other hand, the research and production times are ridiculous.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Brik Cob after Stefan and his crew bust him out of a Rimtech prison. The results are that he not only becomes humbler and kinder to Stefan, but also to his staff. It also leads him to becoming a Defector from Decadence and initially leading to his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Underground Level: You can use elevators to transport units underground. It's a good place to hide valuable structures and the lava pools that are your main resource for the early-to-mid game are much richer and last longer than the ones above ground, plus you are safe from combot attacks and can use Recon Poles to see what's going on above without having to go up there. Drill Trucks can be used to dig new tunnels and construct new elevators, allowing you to send vehicles behind enemy lines.
    • Sadly, the game's underground parts add a lot of boredom: you're forced to rush the enemy with a whole lot of tanks - that take a proportionally long time to build. On the other hand, massed artillery supported by Tectonic Torpedoes (targeted at enemy tank concentrations) from above can do some real damage.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Let's say that Diego didn't take Isadora's death well.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Averted, your combots can pick up the discarded arms of enemy combots in the field and use them immediately. This can result in Rainbow Pimp Gear however, with, for example, a Rimtech Combot (blue) with a Mil-Agro axe arm (red with white highlights) and a Neuropa Energy Weapon (gray with some purple bits).
    • On the other hand, if you haul the parts back to base... you can research them and build your own versions of that part which actually use different models and textures to suit your faction. For example, the Neuropa K-Shield is more lozenge-shaped, compared to the Mil-Agro and Rimtech versions which look basically like a combot-sized riot shield emblazoned with the faction logo.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: There are two kinds of resources.
    • Metajoules are needed to build stuff and are harvested from lava pits or generated by Solar Panels. The maximum storage capacity can be increased by building Energy Banks, with each one adding another 2000 to your maximum capacity. For those who played Supreme Commander, Metajoules are functionally identical to SC's Mass. Disassembling structures (even your enemies'!) and selling combot parts stockpiled at the Assembly Bay refunds some of their Metajoule cost, but not all of it.
      • What the game doesn't mention is that Solar Panels actually generate Metajoules faster if under your defense grid. Eight Solar Panels under the defense grid of an Outpost have an income equivalent of four Hovertrucks working at a lava pit, which roughly breaks even with a single Vehicle Factory.
    • Manpower is required to operate vehicles (including combots) and structures. This one is increased by building Cryofarms (which also function as a source of combot crews) and AI Facilities (which decrease the manpower requirement of buildings and are a prerequisite for top-tier combot parts). Structures can be turned off to reuse their manpower and cannot be turned back on if it would exceed your maximum manpower, but exceeding the limit anyway (by losing Cryofarms or building too many buildings) slows down all production.
  • Zerg Rush: Pretty much the only chance tanks have against a combot, even a weakly-equipped one: it's doable, but inefficient in terms of cost. You're better off countering enemy combots with your own.

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