A rollercoaster ride without any downtime
The world wasn’t always all about Call Of Duty, believe it or not. In the earlier years, shooters mainly consisted of 2D run and gun games; probably because the technology didn’t allow for any realism yet. It’s in this category that Metal Slug saw itself brought to life to pursue much of the arcade spirit any other Neo Geo title had done.
The colorful, yet somber world of Metal Slug revolved around 2 guys fronting as a one man army against the evil forces of evil. Comically depicting miniature tanks, planes and authentic vehicles in lines of World War II and such, this game combined a ton of enemies and explosions together with equally rousing sound effects. In particular, this game made fervent use of the ‘Wilhelm Scream’; a generic dying sound reused in just about anything you’ve ever seen. Even though sometimes things get too hectic and one of the characters seems to shout a four letter word, most the time the sound is a key point towards raising the adrenaline and keeping things going.
As expected, the gameplay is mostly a fast-paced and hectic nightmare of bullets, bombs, shells and more death-defying stunts. In between all the death, there are also prisoners of war to be rescued, which yield special weaponry or bonus items when liberated. These weapons can drastically alter the damage done from the standard gun and have a slightly different appeal when firing. The Rambo’s in question shoot forward, up diagonally or even down, but only if they jump first. The aiming isn’t really optimally implemented as jumping and shooting is tricky and it’s even trickier firing diagonally, usually requiring players to stay in a very dangerous position with airborne units. The incredible fast pace of the game forgives this a little, as most the time there won’t be a proper breathing space to aim anyway. Enemies flood the screen at any given time, so any moment will be spent dodging bullets and blasting shells at the same time.
Unfortunately, all this action sometimes becomes too hectic for its own good. It becomes really hard to distinguish a blast or bullet in between all the decay and some deaths will occur only due to being blinded by the sheer amount of activity. Additionally, with really turbulent scenes, there might be some frame drop; although that will offer some room to slow things down. This should be a problem, but the reality of it is that Metal Slug thrives on the constant sense of panic to keep action going.
Rarely in games can such a restless scenery inspire such reckless behavior, where characters learn to overcome fear and logic and leap into danger, rather than jumping out of it. The incredible sensation of action and adventure that breathes through each pore of Metal Slug makes it a rollercoaster ride without any downtime whatsoever. As soon as one incredible section filled with bad guys stop, players are rushed into the next area where things get even crazier.
Furthermore, each stage will have multiple boss fights, each more ridiculously obscene than the next. Huge airships, giants wielding Vulcan guns, death-clad tanks and other towering super villains will cross the path of justice and try to obliterate all that come between their sordid plans. Dodging and shooting will be taken to an entirely new level in these fights and usually, this is where life and death scenarios will be the most prominent. As there are no health bars and one hit means one kill, the bullet-vomiting bosses will always be a challenge, keeping excitement to a high climatic clash.
Luckily, Metal Slug provides some comfort to prevent one-shot kills, with mini-tanks players can jump in for extra protection, but also additional damage. Even here, aiming is rather tricky, but it does help considerably to have a health bar present to keep from dying. Plus, it’s just funny to see a tank to a teeny little jump. In general, this game will just tickle your funny bone from time, with its ridiculous scenes.
But the real selling point of Metal Slug is just how all these aspects fuse into each other to make for an experience so rich in action, adrenaline and pure fun; any other minor flaw turns to dust. Even with frequent death or failure, starting over and shooting more Kraut scum will almost become compulsory due to the sheer level of constant excitement this game provides. There is no room for any relaxation in this game, it’s all action. Rambo has nothing on these guys; that’s how action packed Metal Slug is.