Metaboli: Gaming on Demand

Written by Joe Martin

August 10, 2007 | 10:31

Tags: #awomo #beyond-good-and-evil #deus-ex #free #games-on-demand #gametap #subscribe #subscription

Companies: #steam

All we need is your credit card number...

Unfortunately, Beyond Good and Evil wasn’t the only game we tested that suffered from problems over Metaboli and which we downloaded unknowingly. Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, another Michel Ancel game, also suffered from errors and continued to request that I insert CD two or three despite the obvious virtual nature of the downloaded version.

Again though, looking into it, we found that this was a problem that Metaboli was aware of and which it had written about on the gamepage, providing a work around. Now, there are two ways to look at this problem. On the one hand, it can be seen as a sure sign of the thoroughness of the Metaboli staff and development process that these problems were picked up and outlined on the game page.

On the other hand, it’s a bit of a design problem that Metaboli will allow users to download a game which they may then have trouble running. It would be much better if simple alerts popped up before the download started, telling the customer that the game they wanted may have compatibility problems with their OS or that they would have to use a certain method to play the game because of the porting process.

Metaboli also showed its strength to me by enticing me to play games which I knew were awful by reputation but which I never got around to trying myself. Example; Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, a game which I never would have played at all had it not been for Metaboli.

Metaboli: Gaming on Demand Conclusions
Even games like Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness score perfect user reviews, rendering that feature useless

That said, the game was exactly the type of let down I’d been lead to believe and no number of five-star user reviews changed that.

Conclusion

We had very few problems with the system really, though there are still a few things which may put off potential customers. For one, once a game has been downloaded, your connection to the Internet must be maintained in order to play the game. It’s predictable enough that Metaboli would put this in place in order to stop gamers signing up for a single month and then downloading all of the games and cancelling the subscription. If that’s the type of ‘service’ you had in mind, Metaboli isn’t for you.

If however, you’re willing to pay the price for the games and then keep your Internet connection open, Metaboli is an ideal gaming service.

Metaboli is the type of service that many people will approach with caution, probably worried that there has to be some hidden snag or download limit. There isn’t. In all our fiddling with the Ultimate Collection, we didn’t have any trouble downloading or playing the vast majority of games – barring the occasional graphical glitches in previously mentioned titles.

The value-for-money choice is a matter of personal preference. If you’re the type of gamer who plays games repeatedly and enjoys picking up and playing lots of different types of genres, both old and new, then Metaboli is undoubtedly going to be great value for money. If however you only pick up and play games occasionally, or find yourself focusing on only certain key titles then Metaboli will not offer you much at all.

Metaboli: Gaming on Demand Conclusions Metaboli: Gaming on Demand Conclusions
The Metaboli player is simple to use, but an Internet connection is required to play any downloaded game

In terms of interface, support and design however, Metaboli is superbly executed and well put together. The system offers detailed system requirements, which is a great advantage. The reader reviews are universally useless and Metaboli would do well to mimic Steam by showing a Metacritic score for the game instead, but the vast majority of titles will already be familiar to most players so it isn’t an immediate problem. It should also be pointed out that the forums were somewhat sparsely populated.

When you get right down to the core of it, Metaboli is an incredibly well designed system that comes the closest to rivalling Steam or Gametap to date. Whether it can continue to rise in the ranks and impress gamers remains to be seen as it’s still early days for it, but there’s no reason we can see why Metaboli won’t be the next ‘big thing’. Especially when a glance over the Term and Conditions reveals that it's possible to organise a £1 trial period.
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