If you disassembled Machine Head and looked only at its constituent parts, it would seem like you'd have a pretty great game on your hands. The graphics and sound effects are excellent, you have loads of super-destructive weapons at your disposal, and there's enough of a storyline to tie everything together. Put it all together, though, and you don't have much: Machine Head is a prime example of the whole being nowhere near the sum of its parts.
The plot follows the standard "the end is nigh" sci-fi scenario typically tacked on to games where the basic goal is mass destruction. It's the ever reliable "near-future," and a deadly virus is destroying the human population. Assigned to contain the virus, you must head out on your heavily armed hovercraft and blow away everything that crosses your path. To continue this trail of mayhem, you are charged with seeking out the keys which will allow you access to the next area. The story, of course, is totally forgettable once you're in the game - which would be fine, if the game was at all fun.
But it isn't. The most striking problem with Machine Head is the control. The directional pad is used for looking around, the L1 and R1 buttons for firing, and the shaped buttons for moving. The result is a mass of confusion, and it takes awhile to get comfortable just moving around, let alone aiming and firing at fast moving opponents.
Adding to this confusion is the difficulty you'll encounter just navigating through the levels. Your so-called hovercraft will get hung up on the most minor piece of scenery, and the levels are littered with debris that impairs movement and filled with narrow passageways which are difficult to maneuver through. Finally, everything looks so similar to everything else that you'll often find yourself wandering around aimlessly, with no idea where you are or where you should be.
Machine Head isn't all bad - the soundtrack is a thumping techno affair; and the graphics are really cool with nice environments filled with fast-moving mutants and insect-like opponents, building cocoons on power lines. But sound and graphics do not make for a good game. That is to say it's somewhat difficult to sit back and enjoy the game's nice aspects when you're constantly groaning in frustration.