Is there any platform the Metal Slug series is not on? I will be straightforward and tell you that I never played Metal Slug in an upright cabinet, but I did play it on the Playstation, Playstation 2, Nintendo DS and my mobile phone. Metal Slug has been on just about every single platform that has released since 1996. Keeping in that tradition, Metal Slug has made its way to Playstation 3 through the Neo Geo Station. In a series that has six numbered entries and a number of anthologies and spin-offs, there was no doubt that the Neo Geo Station would eventually see another Metal Slug title. The Playstation Network welcomes Metal Slug 2.
In 1996, arcade goers everywhere were given the chance to jump back into the intense, side scrolling, shoot ’em up game Metal Slug 2, SNK’s follow-up to Metal Slug. For those of you that are not familiar with Metal Slug, the story is quite simple. You control the Peregrine Falcon squad in their fight against the armies of series antagonist General Donald Morden. It is a simple concept, but those were simpler days. Metal Slug 2 feels less focused on story and more focused on game play, as was the case with many arcade games in the 90s.
Game play is side scrolling run-and-gun all the way. Like the other Neo Geo Station classics, there has been nothing done to upgrade the game, leaving gamers with the original action from the game’s 1998 release. This also gives younger gamers, or gamers who may be a little late to the party, the ability to go back and experience what gaming was like in the arcades. If you fall into either of those categories, than I would recommend picking up Metal Slug 2. It is a fun game all around. It is not the best looking game, but it was released in 98. For a game that is almost 15 years old, it is impressive that the game holds up at all.
Metal Slug 2 doesn’t just hold up, but still delivers in many ways. Players start off by choosing one of four playable characters. Each character has a different look, but starts with the same weapons, a pistol and bombs, and is the same in every other way. Additional weapons (heavy machine guns, laser guns, rocket launchers, etc.) can be acquired by rescuing prisoners and opening treasure chests. Throughout the game, players will travel to numerous locations and fight a variety of enemies including soldiers, mummies, various types of tanks, planes and helicopters as well as a special type of enemy in the end stage that I will not mention in the interest of not spoiling the 15 year old game. You’re welcome.
Metal Slug 2 is challenging, and continues to increase in difficulty as it progresses. In later stages of the game, playing through on your own can get hard. Luckily, the Neo Geo Station, as they have done with all of their classics on PSN, has added Network Play. Metal Slug 2 benefits from this, as I found that playing through the game with another player greatly increased my enjoyment and cut down on the frustration of dying every time the combat got crazy.
Even with the addition of online multiplayer, there were still some issues I had with the game. Most of my frustration with Metal Slug 2 is exactly the same as it was with Shock Troopers. The controls can be a bit frustrating because the left analog stick both moves your character and aims your weapon. To fire in a specific direction, you have to move in that direction, which can make combat frustrating. Additionally, you are given a limited amount of continues. When you run out of them, it is Game Over and back to the beginning. I realize all of this is due to the nature of the game. It was released in the arcade, it had a single joystick and it was made to eat your quarters. Regardless, 1998 or 2011, the game is still difficult and you will probably die quite a bit. I just wish I could start where I left off.
My final issue with Metal Slug 2 walks a delicate line. Before I get to it, I have to state that Metal Slug 2 is the release of a classic arcade game. It does not, in any way attempt to make itself more than it is. The game does not strive to compete with current generation games. With that said, before I could recommend this game to you outright, I have to tell you that there are games out there now that do what Metal Slug 2 does, but better. While I played through Metal Slug 2 and enjoyed it, I couldn’t help but compare it to Hard Corp: Uprising. If you are looking for a taste of the classics, Metal Slug 2 is great, but if you want the best up to date side scrolling shooter, Hard Corp: Uprising is the way to go. They are two different games, but they are competitors, both on PSN and for your hard earned money.
I am glad that the Neo Geo Station is releasing titles from the arcades. Games, and the gaming industry, have grown significantly in the past two decades, but everything started in the arcades, and we can’t forget that. It’s good to go back and see where the game play mechanics we know and love came from. Metal Slug 2, along with many other classics, helped to inspire the people that are making the games we play today. Aside from being a piece of gaming history, it is a fun game and well worth the $8.99 asking price. Either way you go, old school or new school, these are the games that got us here. Go enjoy them while you still can.
Review copy provided by publisher.