In this age of expansive 3D environments and landscapes that seem to stretch on forever the beauty and simplicity of 2D has been lost. Over the years people have come to expect being able to move more than just back and forth, or up and down. They demand the ability to move diagonally dammit! So what does all this mean you ask, well for starters SNK have brought us another Metal Slug game for the Xbox and second, I couldn’t be happier. To those who are not familiar with the series, shame on you by the way, this is probably the last bastion of hope for pure 2D fanatics seeking that Contra style game play. SNK’s latest package includes not just one but two of the latest games in the series and is priced at a hefty $39.99. If you are not a fan of these games you should definitely stay away, but for the 2D purists out there read on, as we take a look at the latest in a dying genre.
For those lucky enough to have played the last incarnation on Xbox don’t be expecting a huge leap visually. Metal Slug has rarely changed over the past few years, only increasing in actual animation and enemies onscreen. What is here though is one of the most beautiful sights your eyes may ever gaze upon. Pure animated bliss, watching your character morph into a zombie and spray arterial death upon the masses is truly a work of art. The levels in this new package are some of the coolest we have seen, ranging from a Mission Impossible like mission where you are lowered down via a rope, to a winter wonderland full of soldiers in snowmen disguises and yetis. The visual flare of Metal Slug has always been a treat to gamers who love their old school action.
The audio is not going to set the world on fire however. They have basically re-sampled all of the older games. Even the music feels a bit forced in most areas and has that tune of “been there, done that” going. Sound effects are still blasting through with arcade quality and it makes you wonder how much further this series could evolve if designed for a stronger platform.
Metal Slug though has never been about flashy graphics and superior sound; it has always been about the enjoyment of playing some old school shooting action. Blasting your way through both games can be done in under an hour, but that isn’t the point. Taking a co-op mission with your buddy or simply trying to outscore your last run through is what old school arcade games were about. This is one case where style truly overbears substance. You also have the option to upload your score and time to Xbox Live for bragging rights. Of course considering the small fanbase after one play through I was ranked in the low twenties.
If you are not a fan of old school 2D shooters this game is not going to change your mind, however if you are then this package is a must own. Not the best games in the series, but certainly more than worth the price of admission. It took SNK long enough to get them out on the Xbox, but I can honestly say it was worth the wait. New school gamers and haters of 2D need not apply.