Metal Fatigue official page: http://www.psygnosis.com/metalfatigue
Expected Release: Fall 1999
We had the unique opportunity to interview Jason Hough, designer at Zono, about his upcoming 3D real time strategy game, Metal Fatigue. Metal Fatigue brings a host of cool features to the RTS genre, namely modular units, and a three level battlefield. The modular units come in the form of giant robots called "Combots." To build these combots, the player decides which type of arm fittings (weapons) to equip them with, as well as a ton of torsos and leg fixtures that give the combot more weapons or special abilities. The combination of dozens of pieces allows for hundreds of possibilities. Metal Fatigue also features a fully rotatable and zoomable battlefield, thanks to its entirely 3D design.
Neuropa attacks Milagro high in the sky
Firingsquad's questions are in bold while Jason Hough's answers are in regular text.
Firingsquad: What kinds of non-combat units will be in Metal Fatigue?
Jason Hough: The main non-combat unit is your Hovertruck - this unit is used to build structures, repair things, mine resources, and pick up stray Combot parts that have fallen during battle. There's also the Drilltruck, which, well, drills. You use it to dig out tunnels underground, and also to build elevators between the surface and underground layers.
FS: In a practical combat situation, how useful are the "regular" units compared to the combots? What sorts of things can they do that combots cannot? Why wouldn't you be able to win by building all vehicles or all combots?
JH: Combots can only navigate the surface and orbital battlefields, whereas the "regular" units can travel underground as well. I'd say you'd be very lucky to win a battle building just one or the other, but I wouldn't entirely rule out the possibility (I once won a round of Half-life using only the crowbar, so I guess anything is possible!). The main strategic difference between the two is that with a combot you get a massive concentration of firepower and shielding in one gigantic unit. This is a great thing to have during a battle! But, a Combot can only be in one place at a time. For the same price, you could build a squad of various units.
This lone Neuropan has no chance
Now, you have some flexibility in that you can divide them up and send them to different tasks, or group them together and concentrate their firepower. Each has its advantages, but unless you have overwhelming numbers, a Combot will usually prevail when fighting only vehicles. Ultimately, you'll want to have a mixture of both in an attack group. The vehicles essentially provide support for the Combots, and provide capabilities the combot might not have.
For example, you may want to build a combot that is totally geared for Hand-To-Hand close combat - lets say, Dual Axe Arms, Strength Legs, and an Armor Torso. This robot can deliver a lot of damage with each swing of the axe, but it cant do anything to protect itself against enemy aircraft. So you'd want to send along some Missile Jeeps or even airplanes of your own to keep it protected. Alternatively, you could replace the Armor Torso with a Flak Cannon Torso, and now you've got some protection against enemy planes, but you've lost some hitpoints and shielding that the ArmorTorso provided. It all comes down to how you want to handle it.