Metal Slug has been around for almost two decades and for good reason. It still stands tall as one of the best run 'n' gun shooters and with the recent release of the third game on modern consoles, there's no reason not to experience this timeless classic. However, does just one game hold up enough to satisfy modern gamers or should you wait for another Metal Slug Anthology?
Metal Slug 3 follows our familiar heroes Marco, Eri, Tarma, and Fio in their adventure to stop General Morden yet again. This time, the general is in way over his head after he makes an alliance with an alien race. The insanity that follows over the campaign's five missions will surely make you smile at how ridiculous this game is at its core.
After selecting your character and jumping in, you're promptly reminded how simple it is to play Metal Slug. You can jump, shoot, and throw grenades. That's all there is to it. Where the gameplay truly shines is in the diversity of scenarios that you encounter. You'll fight zombies that turn you into one upon contact, blast away in scrolling shoot 'em up segments, collect many different power-ups and weapons, save hostages, drive vehicles, fight massive bosses, and discover plenty of secrets. Although you'll work through all of these scenarios with little instruction, the gameplay remains simple and intuitive with responsive controls that make it easy to always know what you're doing so you can focus on the fun. It's simply some of the most hectic and enjoyable 2D action that you'll ever experience.
Metal Slug's visuals have been top-notch since its debut and the third game is no exception. Each character, enemy, object, and environment is rendered with pixel-perfect precision. To top it off, everything (including inanimate objects) comes alive with smooth animation. Enemies can appear anywhere from menacing to laughably ludicrous which makes them all the more fun to mow down. It's a prime example of masterful 2D graphics. With all of that being said, the visuals frequently become choppy and slow. This is especially true when there is a great deal of action occurring and seems to happen more often while playing with someone else either locally or online. Many previous releases of Metal Slug 3 didn't have this issue, so it's hard to believe that the PlayStation 4 is unable to keep up.
One feature that makes Metal Slug 3 far superior to its predecessors is its branching paths. Missions often feature well over one route and depending on which one you take, it can be a completely different journey the second time through. Coupled with the fact that there are many secrets to uncover (can you find Hyakutaro Ichimonji?), you're sure to replay the entire hour long campaign more than once. However, even though the adventure may change at certain points, it's still generally played the same. If you're like me, you'll wish that there were additional Metal Slug games included in order to fill your need to simply experience more of the series.
If running and gunning by yourself gets boring, you can play either online or locally with one other player. This may make the game more exciting, but the lack of online features means that you're automatically matched with any random player. As you probably already know, this can be problematic since it means that you may be teamed up with someone who has no clue what they're doing. If you're up for a challenge, you can try to climb the leaderboards. There are many options to make the game easier, but you'll have to set them to their defaults if you want to be eligible for the leaderboards. Besides that, there really aren't any bonuses which is disappointing since previous iterations had extra content such as mini-games and art galleries. Therefore, all you basically get is the core Metal Slug 3 game which, even though it's awesome, may not feel like enough to warrant a purchase.
Metal Slug 3 is a run 'n' gun fan's dream. Although this latest release is not the definitive version, it's still worth playing through once or twice if you're a fan of the genre and don't already own a previous port.
- + Frantic run 'n' gun gameplay at its best
- + Online and local multiplayer, branching paths, and lots of secrets add to the replay value
- + Some of the best 2D graphics ever rendered
- - Frequent choppiness and slowdown occurs; especially during multiplayer
- - Only consists of one game with almost no extra bells and whistles