Do you think you could train a group of recruits into battle-hardened veterans? That’s the question Full Metal Sergeant asks, as you take command of some recruits as an Army instructor. You have 12 weeks to turn a fresh group of recruits into soldiers ready to take on a dangerous mission.
You only work with a few recruits at first, but can slowly upgrade your base to pump out powerful soldiers. There is a slight roguelike element as recruit traits and enemy maps are different every time. This isn’t a long game with a lot of depth, and you will quickly get the hang of it. But even after you complete the mission, there’s still a good training simulator that helps you shape the soldiers of tomorrow.
Full Metal Sergeant is available on PC for USD 9.99.
Story – We Need Soldiers
There isn’t much of a story in Full Metal Sergeant similar to other simulation games like Arena Renovation. You are working as a trainer for new recruits at the local army base. Soldiers are required to complete a tough mission, and your recruits must prepare for battle in 12 weeks. You set up training programs that account for a recruit’s needs, then turn them into skilled soldiers. Those soldiers are sent to the battlefield where they will succeed, fail, or retreat early because they aren’t ready.
It’s not a complex story but it doesn’t need to be. There’s nothing remarkable about training recruits or completing missions in the army. The mission is something that soldiers are trained to do, and nothing more. Any timeline to complete the mission isn’t outright stated; you do want the mission to be complete but there’s no inherent deadline.
As long as you train your soldiers and send them off to complete a mission, that’s all you must do. The real strength of the game comes from its gameplay, which has a few roguelike elements to keep you on your toes.
Gameplay – Building Your Forces
You have 12 weeks to turn weak recruits into battle-ready soldiers. This isn’t an easy task, since many of these recruits come with traits that hamper their performance. These soldiers are then sent on a mission whose difficulty grows as you go further in. Without proper training and experience, your soldiers will walk towards their deaths.
Success isn’t expected from the beginning. You don’t know what you can do and how to get the most out of your soldiers. But as you learn how the game works, you can train your recruits into more powerful soldiers.
Full Metal Sergeant doesn’t have a salary; you use Prestige to upgrade your facilities and it is earned through various actions. Participating in contests, treating your soldiers properly, and succeeding on missions are just some ways to earn Prestige. This gives you better facilities to train your recruits, giving them an advantage on the battlefield.
As you learn what the mission requirements are, you upgrade your soldiers into new roles to give them an advantage. Every recruit you train contributes towards the future, and the mission is a long-term goal. But even if your entire squad is wiped out, you haven’t lost everything and can start over. Past experience also guides you towards better decisions and planning. This roguelike aspect can immerse you and make you want to stay to complete the mission.
Unfortunately, not being able to retain your forces is a pity. Unlike games such as XCOM 2 where mission veterans can stay with you, you are forced to make do with new recruits every time. It seems weird that you only retain soldiers for a single mission, because you can use that experience.
Mission – Try, Try, Try Again
Another aspect of the roguelike gameplay is the mission. While your objective doesn’t change, the mission always has a different map and a different set of enemies. As you progress, the challenges and enemies are more difficult to overcome. Your soldiers have a limited amount of supplies, which they must replenish by finding them in the wild or defeating enemies.
It is highly unlikely that you will complete a mission with the first batch of recruits. Unless you know what’s coming next, your soldiers will be wiped out by enemies with greater power. If you ever feel like your soldiers are out of their depth, you can always retreat before starting the next mission stage. Unfortunately, you don’t know if your soldiers are unprepared until after you lose them on a mission.
Thankfully, that experience doesn’t go to waste. If you know what to expect in future stages of a mission, you can train your recruits based on that information. Soldiers not dealing enough damage? Invest in a sniper. Fighting over terrain that has lots of water? Create a diver. Your facilities add to your soldiers’ strength, allowing you to overcome threats that were too dangerous to handle.
A large part of your efforts will be figuring out what works and what does. Just like Deflector, sometimes you succeed and sometimes you fail. But you get back up every time because the goal is always within reach.
Audio & Visuals – Simple & Fitting
The visuals in Full Metal Sergeant are pixelated outside of loading screens. It doesn’t diminish any aspect of the game, and you can still see what you are doing. Even during the missions, it’s not hard to learn what each map icon means or what it is. There’s also something amusing about seeing pixelated soldiers participate in competitions or go for a run.
Surprisingly, the audio isn’t present too much outside of a bit of background noise. You will hear the drill sergeant scream commands while soldiers reply, as well as the noise of competition and battle. But there isn’t much in the way of background music. In a way, it’s fitting because it represents the gravitas of the situation. You’re not here for fun, you’re here to train an army.
Full Metal Sergeant was reviewed on Steam with a code provided by CarloC Games.