As one of Earth's last remaining citizens, the player join a group of warriors who fight for Earth's safety, the Metal Warriors. Players pilot a giant mech around side-scrolling levels, saving other stranded citizens, and fighting off enemy mechs belonging to the Dark Axis. The player can pick up power ups as well as exit his vehicle and pilot new mechs, which are scattered across the game's vast levels. The game's story unfolds in detailed, anime-like cutscenes that introduced every level.
Metal Warriors presents a side-scrolling experience that is surprisingly tactical (especially in multiplayer), since the player can eject from his mech and enter new fighting machines that aren't occupied. Every mech has its own set of weapons and handles in a completely different way. It also has large stages than most of its contemporaries, and could be punishing at times as losing at the end of a stage meant the whole thing needed to be played all over. The stages take place in a variety of locales, from jungle and arctic climes, to defending the allied battlecruiser in space.
Players can take command of any mech that isn't occupied by an enemy. Unoccupied mechs show up as gray, standing in a forward-facing, inert pose. Outside of a mech, the player is just a little man with a jetpack that offers him unlimited flight, armed with a pea-shooter and incredibly fragile. Typically, outside the mech the player can take ten hits, though hits from mech-sized weapons do far more damage. Players can't harm mechs with their rifle, though the segments of the game that require the player to eject - say, to flip a switch - often don't pit him against a mech, just enemy soldiers.
Each mech has its own set of weapons and moves, though they all have long-and-short ranged attacks. In general, close combat attacks does more damage, though the ranged options are just as destructive and satisfying.
The power ups scattered throughout each level can greatly change the way a mech handles and make it far more deadly if used in creative ways. For example, a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher can give the more agile mechs some extra punch, while an anti-gravity powerup allows slower vehicles to reach areas they'd have trouble getting to.
The first mech the player pilots; that the player begins every mission in the Nitro. The Nitro is the easiest mech to handle with an accurate, rapid-fire plasma rifle that shoots in straight lines and does decent damage, as well as a jetpack that allows for lengthy bursts of flight. For close quarters combat, the Nitro is equipped with a lightsaber-esque beam sword, and, for defense, an energy shield that the Nitro can drop behind it, even in flight. It will stop bullets and damage anything that runs into it.
The Havoc is burlier and faster than the Nitro, but lacks the ability to fly. Instead, it zips along on skates and can jump extra far, if the pilot allows some room to gather some speed. This makes it a great mech for quick hit-and-run maneuvers, especially if there is a health kit is nearby. Further reinforcing the Havoc's aggressive feel is its weaponry: a scatter-shot, rapid-fire machinegun and an axe-blade-on-a-chain that does great damage and has decent range. For defense, the Havoc has a simple metal shield. While not as tricky as the Nitro, the Havoc can take more hits.
The least maneuverable, the Prometheus takes a little more skill to pilot as it's slow and cannot jump. It does, however, have a massive artillery cannon on its shoulders, which fires highly damaging shells that burst into shrapnel. The player can control when the shell bursts, holding down the button until he wants it to explode. For close combat, the Prometheus has a devastating flamethrower that'll continue to burn an opponent for a second or two even after they get out of the fire. Defense is handled by a 360-degree shield that'll soak in plenty of incoming damage.
Since the Prometheus can't jump, it relies on two key features for aerial defense as well as maneuverability. It can deploy floating mines above it that'll do some damage to flying opponents, and a bridgelayer to help it clear chasms (as well as box opponents in). The bridge-blocks can be destroyed.
The spider can climb walls and fire a sticky web which will hold enemy mechs in place. Being webbed by the Spider can get really dangerous. It's agile turret-head that fires a scattering of plasma balls isn't so much of a threat, but it can also use its head to strike out and quickly finish off a trapped mech. The spider doesn't have much for defense in the way of a damage soak, but it can cloak and avoid combat. In multiplayer, the cloak only goes so far because of the split-screen nature of it, though it can still be used to surprise human pilots.
When paired with the anti-gravity power up, it can really confuse opponents by attacking both from the ground as well as the roof.
The Ball (Ballistic)
The Ball is all about charging up. For fast movement, players hold a button down until the Ball starts to glow, and then then can shoot off in any direction, damaging anything they hit. In combat, the Ball has a powerful cannon that will fire in different ways depending on how it's charged: a low charge yields several plasma balls that fire straight out, a long charge unleashes a powerful blast. At full strength, it's charge cannon can kill a Prometheus in two hits. It can't move while charging either of these modes. The Ball also has a secondary weapon in a machinegun that works like the Havoc's, and can huddle itself up, using part of its ball-shell as a shield.
Drache (Experimental Aerial Assault Ship)
The Drache sets itself apart as it's a flier. It's weak both offensively and defensively, making it the most difficult to master. Though it can in turn prove to be the most effective ship of them all for highly skilled players. For attacks, the Drache has a radial-style, rapid-fire plasma gun that can shoot in all directions depending on which buttons on the controller the player holds down (reminiscent of games such as Robotron and Smash City), and its "close combat" attack makes the Drache fold up its wings and drop down like a falling spike, doing tons of damage to anything beneath. This dive-bomb attack also protects the Drache to a degree, though no pilot should ever rely on this mech being able to take hits. The Drache's aerial maneuverability allows it to dance around anything fired at it, though it can be almost useless in corridor fighting.
These power ups upgrade the gun itself from 1-4 where 4 is a powerful upgrade and can shoot through breakable objects instantly.
The shots can bounce on the walls and the floor.
The shots can seek enemies.
These attachments are equipped on the shoulder of the robot. If the powerup is activated and the player escapes and enters back into the robot, the powerup disappears.
Fires missiles from the shoulder of the robot.
Switches gravity so that players can walk on the ceiling and can also switch back to normal.
Upon activation, an aura is activated. The speed of shooting and melee attacks are increased.
Can drop grenades and explode upon contact or after 2-3 bounces.
Used in multiplayer, a bomb drops in front and will explode after 5 seconds for a great amount of damage.
Metal Warriors allows two players to go head-to-head in a split-screen deathmatch mode. It features huge levels for the combatants to battle across that offer unique challenges for each mech, as well as all of the powerups and various vacant mechs for the players to take advantage of. The round ends when a pilot is killed; a desperate pilot could eject from a mech and try to escape to a new one, though he is extremely vulnerable in transit.
Multiplayer matches tend to progress in any number of ways, from close quarters, mech-on-mech slugging matches to tactical ranged engagements. Pairing more deliberate mechs, such as the Prometheus, against odder mechs, such as the Drache, often resulted in both pilots having to think about their approach and use their mechs to the best of their abilities.