Designed to appeal to players who love heavy metal, first-person shooters, and rhythm challenges, this is the very definition of a niche game. But the good news is that if you happen to fall into this select group, Metal: Hellsinger is probably going to rock your world. The music is the main highlight. Featuring gifted vocalists from bands including Lamb of God, System of a Down, Trivium, Arch Enemy, and more, these carefully crafted songs are remarkably effective in the way they increase the player's adrenaline, with crescendos that sync up perfectly with crests in the gun battles. And it's not just the shooting that impacts the music and multiplier, but also other activities such as dashing, finishing moves, and reloading. Indeed, the game encourages players to feel -- and respond to -- the beat in virtually every action they take, making for a surprisingly emotive adventure (at least if you happen to like heavy metal).
The rest of the experience isn't quite as original, but it is competent. The first-person shooting feels polished and satisfying, with fun little extras like ultimates -- special attacks for each weapon that slowly charge through battle -- thrown in to provide mini-goals and keep things interesting. Firing on beat rather than firing whenever you feel like it is a little disconcerting to start, but most players should have a pretty good sense of the timing required by the time they finish the first level. What might turn off some budget-conscious buyers, though, is the short play time. Most people will be able to easily finish the game in under five hours, and replaying levels for better scores only goes so far. Metal: Hellsinger provides a welcome new twist by combining a pair of long-established genres, and it's fun while it lasts. It'd just be nice if it lasted a little longer.