Metal Slug 4 PS2 Review

When Metal Slug first reared its head it wasn’t a blockbusting, mega cash, home console, world-beating hit. It wasn’t a huge deal to your everyday plastic cartridge-buying punter. Metal Slug wasn’t mainstream, it was covert, and it was underground. Metal Slug was the brown wooden Coin-op unit in the gloomy corner of your local Quasar.

You would have been disappointed if you wanted to play Metal Slug at home. This was a Neo-Geo exclusive, and for those who can’t remember, this console was for the affluent and privileged. Unless your dad was minted you’d have to suffer the well supported yet technically inferior Mega Drive and SNES. Still there were those who craved the addictive nature of this hybrid platform shooter.

You may be perplexed as to why SNK have released four (and soon to be five) Metal Slugs. Each one is so similar to the other that it’s kind of pointless to play more than one. Militant fans might get something out of it but the Mr Mainstream will be disappointed.

Despite this being the fourth instalment, Metal Slug is the same as it was back when it was played in grimy arcade halls. There are four characters as opposed to the usual two, yet Slug plays the same. Much in the R-Type, despite its many incarnations, is essentially the same game.

Your objective is still to shoot your way through a side-scrolling level, killing every bad guy and destroying every tank on your way. You collect weapons upgrades to handle to progressively harder enemies and you keep going until you’re dead. Notice it is ‘you’re dead’ and not ‘you’re finished’: Metal Slug is still one of the most difficult and challenging games you’re likely to come across. This is one of the elements that made it so addictive in its Coin-op days – it was near on impossible. The challenge wasn’t to finish the game (anyone who has played realises that this is impossible), it was to get as far as you possibly could with the three lives that the game gave you. Obviously with this console version you can continue at will, but you’re missing a trick if you don’t play this in the way it was supposed to be played.

Still Metal Slug will only sell on nostalgia. Compared to what’s available today Slug pales. There really is no comparison and no reason, if you don’t know what Metal Slug is, then you’re best served elsewhere. The animations of the sprites are amusing and pleasing, the game is still playable and addictive, it’s just, well, old. Then again, it’s not sold as anything else.

You’ll read reviews saying what a great game Metal Slug is: don’t be fooled. Gaming has moved on, and to be brutal, this isn’t worth your time. We should be looking forward not backwards and this release simply reinforces the opinion that SNK have turned into a money-spinning company, interested only in profits. It would be nice to see what they’re capable of using current technology.