Metal Slug. A game that evokes so many memories. Originally a staple in arcades way back in the mid 90’s, Metal Slug has made its way to a plethora of consoles and devices, and has spawned a number of sequels. It is, in every sense, a classic game. It has the right balance action and comedy, and never takes itself seriously. There is a plot, though it serves more as window dressing than having any real engagement. Essentially, the evil General Morden has launched a coup against, well, everyone, and is taking over the world. To top it off, he’s stolen top-secret, prototype super tanks, the titular Metal Slugs. Enter Peregrine Falcon Strike Force! Playing as either Captain Marco Rossi or Lieutenant Tarma Roving, it’s down to you to stop Morden’s evil plot!
Metal Slug is a run and gun affair, charging your character through levels blowing up anything and everything in the way. Enemy soldiers are plentiful, wave after wave of cannon fodder to fall below your guns. Even though it has the potential to, this never gets boring. Interesting level design and well placed set pieces break each level up, so the rampage never feels stale.
About half way through each level, you come across one of the stolen Metal Slug tanks. And, well, why not put it to good use? The Metal Slug gives you a massive boost to firepower and defence, shrugging off light hits and taking down enemy tanks. Everything about the gameplay is just plain fun. Even the boss fights, which can get dull and mechanical, are entertaining. Metal Slug strikes the right balance of difficult and rewarding. Of course, it helps if you turn on the Unlimited Credits feature… Unfortunately, as useful as the Unlimited Credits are (you die. A lot), it does demonstrate how short the game is. Metal Slug comes in at 6 missions, and each doesn’t take long to complete with unlimited credit. It gets a lot more difficult without the safety net!
There are nice little humorous touches and pop culture references peppered through the game. Things like blowing up a balcony to rescue a kitten for bonus points, or finding a group of soldiers making a snowman and watching them run around panicked, all add to Metal Slugs charm. The obvious nods to the action movies of the 80’s (the golden era of action movies) are there, too. Rescuing POWs, riverboats from any ‘nam film and suspiciously Soviet looking uniforms and tanks all find their way in.
As fun as Metal Slug is, however, the PC port does have a few flaws. It’s not entirely as smooth as it should be. This won’t make much difference to anyone who has never played it before, but if you’re a bit long in the tooth, like me, and played the earlier versions, it is noticeable. That said, this port does bring across the familiar two player option, with both a local and internet co-op mode. Technically, both players can use the same keyboard to play Better get your friend to bring a controller though, as it’s a bit cramped. A controller works best even in single player, too. The keyboard controls are not the best for this kind of game. It’s all about the stick!
Metal Slug still is, over 20 years later, a damn fine entertaining game. The graphics still look good today, Metal Slug being a great example of how well 16-bit games age. The Metal Slug PC port, while having a few porting issues, is a great rendition of a timeless classic.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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