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Metal Slug 3 Review

Metal Slug Glee

Metal Slug is one of those games that keeps on giving. Over the years since its first incarnation 1996, there have been somewhere in the region of (no joke) 50 different titles across various platforms including Metal Slug 2,3 and 4, Metal Slug X, Metal Slug Alien’s Battle Chronicles and Metal Slug: Ithinkwe’verunoutoftitles. Yes my friends, FIFTY titles. Go check Wikipedia if you think I’m lying. Hell, that’s where I got my information from (should I have admitted that?) Maybe it’s not the game that keeps on giving after all, but the game that doesn’t know when to stop. A little joke there. Haha hehe.

So SNK Playmore have selected Metal Slug 3 and ported it to iOS. Why number 3? I reckon it may have something to do with fifty pieces of paper and a hat.

It’s a side-scrolling arcade run and gunner full of heavy weaponry, bombastic explosions and larger than life enemies. The story can be summed up in one word: Shoot.

After a couple of menu screens which feature a completely unecessary double tap system of confirmation, you select one of four soldiers, who seem to all be the same aside from aesthetics, and head out onto the battlefield to blow stuff up. The gameplay is über intense and bursting with action. From the moment you’re dropped into the level, enemies relentlessly charge at you from all angles forcing you to do two things – blast away and keep moving. Nuance is a no-no.

You begin with a simple pistol, but before long – and we’re talking a matter of seconds here – a bearded captive is rewarding you with a Heavy Machine Gun. I know this because a voice shouts ‘Heavy Machine Gun’ when you pick it up. The bearded man does this because you just broke him free by throwing a grenade on his head. Did I mention the lack of nuance?

But it’s a good thing. Wall to wall action with no letup, and you can’t help but love it. Weapons become bigger and more brash as you plough on through, and pack a satisfying punch when ripping enemies apart. And those foes come in all shapes, sizes and skeletal orientation: man-sized crabs, human soldiers, huge wasps and giant fish. That’s just the first level. It’s also very similar to a scenario I faced at the Post Office last week when I went to make a complaint. The Royal Mail staff are ever so hostile.

The stages also keep things interesting with branching pathways which give you a couple of options on now to complete them, so it scores points for replay value. One route might be above ground blowing apart handfuls of armed infantry, the other submerges you underwater to do battle with a massive stingray. Survival is definitely at a premium.

Adding to the variety is the game’s namesake – The Metal Slug. At various points you’ll be able to command one of the Slug vehicles and reign destruction in all new ways. the Slug Driller allows you to mow down scores of enemies with a massive drill like an out of control dentist, the Slug Mariner is an underwater mode of transport that fires torpedoes,  and the Elephant Slug is literally an Elephant strapped with a bloody big cannon. These ramp up the carnage no end, add an extra layer to the gameplay and keep you coming back. Once you take out a bunch of army grunts by firing a cannon attached to an elephant’s trunk, you won’t want to stop. Shouldn’t every game include a cannon firing elephant? Let me provide you with the answer: Yes.

The graphics aren’t as crisp as a retina packet of Salt ‘n’ Vinegar, but are still mighty impressive due to the fabulous animation and hand drawn feel. There are number of old school arcade shooters such as this on the AppStore, but the way things move here really stands out.

What it lacks in sharpness, it makes up for with detail and kinetics. And by the time you fight your way through to the huge end of level battles where monstrous bosses completely dwarf your character, you won’t care about the slightly fuzzy visuals. In fact, if you’re anything like me, you’ll die multiple times because you’ll be marvelling at how impressive they still look.

The music and sound effects are suitably madcap. If you can imagine an amalgamation of every action film score from 1985-1995, as well as the sound of each explosion and bit of  gunfire from said films, you’ll be about fifty percent of the way there. Play it loud and Scare your cat.

At times, the game is so chaotic that it’s hard to actually see what’s going on. My character got lost amongst the plethora of enemies and explosions and destructible scenery on more than one occasion, but heck, it just adds to the glorious madness of it all. The transparent button layout that sometimes gets obscured by the on-screen action makes things tough at  some points though, and movement generally isn’t the smoothest. You’ll be aching for a joystick and oversized buttons. Making things worse is the retro ‘Insert Coins’ symbol flashing at the top of the screen. Cute, nostalgic, but contributes to the sense of on-screen confusion.

There’s also a Bluetooth multiplayer mode and bizarrely, a feature where you can save replays of your progress through each stage. This is definitely something more sports games could do with, but in a title like this I can’t decide whether it’s completely useless or a stroke of genius, which coincidentally, is what a number of my Secondary School reports used to say.

Big, bad and explosively mad. They certainly don’t make them like this anymore. Mind you, looking at that Wikipedia list again, it seems the opposite is true. The last Metal Slug was released in 2009. A whole three years between releases? Download Slug 3 and make up for lost time.

Follow Kevin on Twitter @dreagleg. Because he said so.

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Metal Slug 3 is available for £4.99 for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Get it now on the METAL SLUG 3 - SNK PLAYMORE

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