🎶 I don’t know but I’ve been told … 🎶
Upon booting up Full Metal Sergeant, I’ll admit I was extremely sceptical. A strategy game based around being a drill instructor? I did not have high hopes. However, Full Metal Sergeant, I am happy to report, exceeded my expectations! Full Metal Sergeant is a simulation/strategy game that puts you into the role of a drill instructor at an army base. You are in charge of training fresh recruits and preparing them for their combat mission.
Along the way, you’ll be given objectives and other tasks, such as training your recruits to be snipers. As mundane as this sounds the developers over at CarolC were perceptive enough to add in an excellent mix of random encounters to make sure every 12-week training session feels different. Anything from stray dogs showing up at the front gate to letters for the recruits can appear to keep you on your toes during training.
Each recruit that joins your camp has randomized stats along with certain negative traits. Some can have insomnia, others can be fat or sickly. But all of this can be weeded out of them by you the drill instructor. Here your time and resource management comes into play. Do you want to train a squad of snipers? Or perhaps teach them how to swim to become combat divers. You will also get the occasional visit from High Command or a company sergeant who will request for example a squad of infantrymen. No 12-week run feels the same, and no graduation class looks the same. Such a feat is a commendable achievement from Full Metal Sergeant.
🎶 I love to double-time 🎶
The primary currency of Full Metal Sergeant is prestige. You earn it in competitions, by having your recruits at certain levels or stats, or by completing High Command’s tasks. Prestige allows you to research better training regimes, upgrade current training stations, and enrol in high-level competitions. As your prestige grows, so does your camp.
🎶 Boy, Marines are mighty bold! 🎶
What really sold me on this game though, was what happens after the 12 weeks and graduation. Your recruits, now (hopefully) fully-fledged soldiers, are sent on deployment. Naturally, I assumed it would be some sort of computer-sorted battle and you would get a letter as a drill sergeant outlining their success or failure. Obviously, that’s not what happens. After graduation, you take control of your recruits and you make sure they arrive home safe and complete the objective. This last stretch of a run (a run being the 12 weeks of training plus deployment) was by far my favourite part! You feel the sting of defeat when your recruits all perish in the mission, and you also feel the triumph of victory when most of your recruits make it back safely.
On one of my earlier runs one recruit had the loner trait which I had tried unsuccessfully tried to remove all throughout training. I was so close to removing it but had to relent and just train him up normally to ensure he got levelled up enough to just survive a mission. Well, during the mission he abandoned his squad and joined the enemy, leaving my squad a man down. Eventually, the remainder of my squad of 3 was gunned down. That is just a taste of how a run can end! I dare not say more which might spoil the ups and downs of any given run.
🎶 Aren’t you motivated?
Aren’t you dedicated? 🎶
What can really drag Full Metal Sergeant back is the slow start. For my first handful of runs, I only had 3 recruits which made deployment very difficult and an uphill battle. I also thought some of the traits needed to be toned down. Spending 2 – 4 weeks trying to remove insomnia or fat traits in the early game really tarnishes your first few recruits. Lastly, my major complaint was the M.O. D screen, which was essentially the level-up screen. It was presented after each week and is where you assign combat roles to your recruits. If your recruits don’t have the stats or xp to level up this screen just gets annoying. I’d rather they only have this menu open when a recruit can level up. Undeniably, this wasn’t a game-breaking issue just an annoyance for me!
Full Metal Sergeant is a charming pixelated strategy game that will surprise and wow those of you who are into simulation and/or strategy games.