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|Developer(s)||Black Jacket Games|
|Publisher(s)||Black Jacket Games|
|Engine||Torque Game Engine Advanced|
Metal Drift is an independent, vehicular combat game for Microsoft Windows developed and published by Black Jacket Games. Gameplay is based around piloting hover tanks in a closed arena, incorporating elements of a first person shooter and an arcade racer.
Metal Drift's gameplay primarily focuses on team based, online multiplayer. Players compete with up to 11 humans or computer controlled "bots" in 6vs6 battles. The single game mode is "Capture the Flag" inspired, where players fight for possession of a ball, which is then used to score at the opponents goal. Scoring is achieved by carrying the ball to the goal pad. Metal Drift focuses heavily on team play, awarding points for kill and goal assists. Points are also awarded for kills and goals, as well as multipliers for kill streaks and defensive or offensive kills. During games with less than 12 human players "bots" controlled by the server will fill any remaining slots. Singleplayer games are made up of the player and an amount of AI players defined by the player.
Metal Drift features a progressive leveling system to unlock new weapons and upgrades, as well as tank designs. Players start at level 0 and can progress up to level 40, with unlocks every 3 level ups. New tank skins are unlocked as the player levels up, with a new skin at level 20 and also level 40. All CPU controlled "bots" use the default level 0 skin, and Community Leaders, as well as the developers, are granted black "VIP" skins.
While being multiplayer based, Metal Drift also has a single player version against CPU controlled opponents. Singleplayer behaves exactly like multiplayer, with some extra options on game setup. The player can choose the level of difficulty the AI will fight with, the number of opponents, and the current map. All the maps in the game are available from the start, giving new players the ability to practice on any of the different Drift Decks. Beyond singleplayer there is also support for multiplayer LAN games, allowing up to 12 people to play the game together on a private network.
Beta access for Metal Drift started in late 2008 with the game being distributed over email to a small group of beta testers. Starting in early 2009 people interested in the game could apply for a copy on the official forums. Testing sessions were held with the developers to find bugs and flaws in the game, as well as get opinions on new or existing features. Before being officially released on Steam, there was a public beta allowing anyone who pre-purchased the game at a discounted rate to get early access.
Metal Drift is still actively developed over 2 years after its official release. A re-release was announced on February 16, 2011, which added in the level based tank designs as well as fixes to many common bugs. New official multiplayer servers were also added to allow better gameplay to regions in Europe. Since then several updates have been released, revamping the Heads Up Display, adding maps, and fixing bugs.
On BLANK XX, 2013, a large update which included a new map titled "Javelin" was released with an entire new texture set, with many of the textures for the existing maps also updated. As well as new content, the in-game interface was updated with new designs and features to make the game more accessible to new players.
As of BLANK 2013 development is focused on a new tank type for new players. The modified tank would have different mechanics in regards to steering and aiming, making it easier for new players to use. This will be the first time a new tank model has been added to the game, with all previous tank designs based on re-textures of the same base model. The updated tank will feature a locked turret, which will force the player to aim the same direction they are driving, opposed to the ability to aim a separate direction in the current tank configuration. This is currently expected to only be available to players new to the game, and only until they are familiar with the game mechanics.
Metal Drift was available only on the Steam platform when first released on October 22, 2009. In early 2011 availability spread to other online digital distribution platforms such as Direct2Drive and Desura. There are currently no physical copies of the game, with availability exclusive to digital distribution methods.
Metal Drift received generally favorable reviews, however some critics found flaws with some aspects of gameplay. Out of 8 called the leveling system an artificial handicap that is "A strategic disadvantage right from the beginning." However, ItReviews found the tactical teamwork and varying combinations of tank setups "Immensely fun to play" Dan Fedler from Gamasutra praised the use of scenes in the game, saying Metal Drift was "One of the most exciting and dynamic games I’ve come across in months."