SNK's follow-up to their classic run 'n' gun 2D action game improved the formula in a lot of ways. Now that Eri and Fio joined Marco and Tarma on the battlefield, will they be glad that they did?
Metal Slug 2 is played very similarly to the first game in the series in that you and a friend cooperate to take out hordes of enemies using your trusty pistol and grenades as well as a variety of weapon power-ups. However, this time around; a lot more variety is introduced. One cool new weapon is the laser which tears through foes like a hot knife through butter. There are also a couple additional vehicles including a camel, a mechanical suit that Ellen Ripley would feel right at home in, and a plane. Although you don't get to fly the plane for very long, it's cool that your partner can ride on the wing; just don't be a jerk and fly them into enemy fire. Of course, the best enhancement is that you can now select your character. Instead of having to play as just Marco and Tarma, you can also choose two female soldiers by the names of Eri and Fio who would go on to star in the sequels as well. All of these features are fantastic inclusions that make Metal Slug 2 a significant step up from the first game.
To go along with these added features, you'll encounter a lot more variety within Metal Slug 2's campaign. For starters, you don't just battle General Morden's troops because mummies, sewer mutants, and aliens all show up to the party. Generally speaking, fighting these new opponents isn't much different to what you'd expect although the mummies can transform you into one of them if you let them attack you. Another transformation will occur when you pick up too many food items as you'll get fat. It's downright hilarious. Anyway, there are plenty of memorable boss fights, too, including a tower-ascending machine and an alien mother ship.
On the other hand, I found the stages to occasionally become repetitive even with these added elements. This is due to the fact that certain sections are repeated a bit too many times. For example, you'll have to clear out enemies from an arena-like setting then a few seconds later, you're forced to do the same thing all over again. This happens multiple times throughout the campaign and I found it disappointing especially considering that the non-stop action in the first game feels fresh and exciting from start to finish.
Another aspect that's still lacking in Metal Slug 2 is that it doesn't feature any substantial replay value. I wish it had branching paths and fun secrets like in Metal Slug 3 but there aren't any replay incentives that'll make you feel like giving it another go right after completing it. Also, the slowdown here is even worse than it was in the first game as it makes the gameplay slow down to a crawl at parts.
All of this being said, the visuals are as enjoyable as ever and the sense of humour is back full throttle. Sometimes, I would stop playing in order to enjoy an odd scene that's taking place in the background. Witnessing a baby crawling around or a prisoner of war launching Hadoukens at enemy soldiers is just hilarious. Thankfully, all of the modes from the original ACA NeoGeo: Metal Slug are included here, too. You can play the bloody Japanese version, the more family-friendly English version, Hi Score Mode, and a timed Caravan Mode.
Metal Slug 2 may not be as consistently exciting as the first game but the added variety and extra characters make it a worthy sequel indeed. If you're a fan of retro games then you'll have a blast with this one.
- + Same fantastic cooperative run 'n' gun gameplay with some welcome variety
- + Great visuals and humour (as always)
- + A couple extra variations and modes
- - Some portions are too stretched out and repetitive
- - Lack of branching paths and secrets
- - Slowdown is worse than the first game