Heavy Metal: Geomatrix is yet another 3D arena shooter for the Dreamcast that doesn't bring anything new or innovative to the already overpopulated genre. The monotonously repetitive and simple nature of the game's core mechanics will leave even the most fervent fans of the Heavy Metal universe left wondering why they didn't rent this value-priced Dreamcast title before they bought it.
Heavy Metal: Geomatrix's story is set in a bleak future where land is becoming scarce because the polar ice caps are melting. Humans have figured out a way to escape the real world by taking refuge in cyberspace, but while some would be happy simply living a life of luxury in the virtual world, thugs and gangs use cyberspace to wage battles against one another for the right to claim what little land is left. Though the story that's been written by Kevin Eastman, creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, is pretty neat, there is really little to no reference to it within the game. You simply move from match to match as in a standard fighting game.
The game includes three modes of play: arcade, chaosmatrix, and versus. Arcade mode is identical to the original arcade version of Heavy Metal: Geomatrix, in which you simply face opponents over and over again. The chaosmatrix mode is a simple single-player mode that is set within odd 3D arenas populated with enemies and a few key items that you must pick up in order to exit the level. The game's versus mode allows you to play with a friend on a split screen. Even though there are three gameplay modes, the gameplay is identical in each.
Gameplay consists of executing six commands: fire, jump, attack, change target, special, and dash. The controls are fairly responsive and easy to use. The average match is basically composed of evading your enemies' fire while landing projectile attacks from afar. When enemies get in close, you can switch over to a melee attack such as a sword or a simple hand-to-hand combo. The system is almost identical to those of the countless 3D arena shooters before it. The only difference is there really isn't anything better about how the Heavy Metal: Geomatrix's system works. Each of the game's characters has a specific special attack, but beyond that, they all really play about the same. The game is slightly slower than Spawn and Outtrigger, which makes it a bit easier on the eyes, but less exciting. One of the things that just about every 3D arena shooter has handled poorly is the camera, and Heavy Metal: Geomatrix is one of them. The camera is either locked on your character or on your target--there's no in between. This makes it incredibly hard to play the game's single-player chaosmatrix mode since it's relatively hard to see the objects you must pick up.
Visually, Heavy Metal: Geomatrix isn't the best 3D arena shooter out there. The models look fairly decent, but they really don't look as good as they should. The character designs are based on creations that were created by comic book artist Simon Bisley. While these designs are rather fresh and very Heavy Metal, the environments, models, and animation aren't polished at all. In the audio department, heavy metal music is supplied by such big-name bands as Halford, Megadeath, Corrosion of Conformity, WASP, Entombed, and Dust to Dust. The music fits the action pretty well.
In the end, however, Heavy Metal is simply an uninteresting licensed 3D arena shooter that feels extremely rushed and won't impress anyone. The game's lack of Internet play, which was included in the Japanese version of the game, makes the game even less worthwhile. Games like Spawn, Outrigger, and Alien Front Online offer more, which means unless you're a hard-core Heavy Metal fan, you really shouldn't bother with this game.