App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Full Metal Jackpot is a game about raising the stakes. What seems to be a simple take on the Agar.io formula reveals itself to be something much more stressful, devious, and oh so fun. There are a few quirks and annoyances in the nuts and bolts of Full Metal Jackpot, but the concept itself is compelling enough that it may spawn its own imitators.
From Pac-Man to Predator
Just like like Agar.io and all of its offshoots, Full Metal Jackpot is a multiplayer game where you start out with an incredibly weak character who you can make stronger by gathering collectibles or killing other players. In doing these actions, your character earns experience and allows you to choose from one of three random upgrades for your solider. If you get enough of these upgrades, you suddenly become a killer fighting machine that other lowly players are scared of.
Because of your weakened state at the beginning of the game, the start of match feels more like a Pac-Man game than a shooter. You run across the map scrambling for every money bag you can find, all the while hoping you don’t run into someone several levels higher than you, as they can take you out in an instant. As you earn upgrades, you can do things like increase your damage, slow down players when you shoot them, or increase your fire rate. These upgrades then allow you to start taking down weaklings yourself to amass more currency.
If Full Metal Jackpot was only about creating a super soldier and ruling the map, it wouldn't be particularly remarkable. Thankfully though, there's an additional wrinkle in this formula that makes things more interesting. Instead of simply trying to be the most powerful player in a match for as long as possible, Full Metal Jackpot has a cash out system where players can board escape pods to leave the match with their earnings.
Cashing out has real consequences because--in addition to the money bags laying around in every level--there’s also gold coins that double as the game’s premium currency that can only be earned by gathering in matches and leaving in an escape pod before anyone else can take it from them or kill them. It’s a weird system, but it makes late stages of Full Metal Jacket feel meaningful and intense in ways that other .io games are usually not.
The idea of using premium currency that you must horde and escape with in a free-to-play game is really novel, but this idea is somewhat undercut by some strange and not-so-fun mechanical decisions present in Full Metal Jackpot. There is, of course, the fact that this game is very much a free-to-play game, but the game’s model for monetizing players (though very grindy) isn’t that bothersome as all of its unlocks are cosmetic.
The thing that is more annoying about Full Metal Jackpot is actually its randomness. This isn’t just some complaint about spawn rates or critical strike percentages, mind you. It's actually much worse than that: The way Full Metal Jackpot actually plays can feel random. Your fire rate, for example, feels like it changes from one moment to the next, regardless of when or how much you've upgraded it. There are also times where your character’s move speed fluctuates. I know that some of this has to do with a balancing mechanic to make more powerful players move slower, but these variances and inconsitencies are noticeable and can make it hard to for the game itself to feel good.
The bottom line
As a concept, Full Metal Jackpot is pretty amazing. Spacetime Studios have really hit on a formula that makes for really gripping multiplayer mayhem, but they still have a ways to go to make all of that action feel as great as it should be. Still though, even with the weird-feeling gameplay, Full Metal Jackpot can be an amazingly fun time.