Metal Slug 4 (Xbox) review
"This was a nice piece of promotion on SNK Playmoreís part. Releasing the fantastic Metal Slug 3 on the Xbox was a fantastic idea as it brought a brilliant albeit hard to access game (loaded with new content) to the mainstream market. However, the release of the vastly inferior Metal Slug 4 on the Xbox with no additional new modes and a few unwanted tweaks appear to S.P playing with the emotions of those hungry Metal Slug fans who canít be bothered with the tedium of MAME emulation or cann..."
This was a nice piece of promotion on SNK Playmoreís part. Releasing the fantastic Metal Slug 3 on the Xbox was a fantastic idea as it brought a brilliant albeit hard to access game (loaded with new content) to the mainstream market. However, the release of the vastly inferior Metal Slug 4 on the Xbox with no additional new modes and a few unwanted tweaks appear to S.P playing with the emotions of those hungry Metal Slug fans who canít be bothered with the tedium of MAME emulation or cannot afford to spend an obscene amount of money on a NEO-GEO console.
Metal Slug 4 derives us of those brilliant Animal Slugs, cool and bizarre enemies and exciting bosses. Basically, it takes everything that made MS3 a classic and forgot to balance it out with the inclusion of awesome new features. To be fair, MS4 does add some decent fresh ideas to the series that would have brilliantly matched up with what MS3 gave us but when they stand alone, they canít even be compared to the excellence that was MS3. Here, if your character (youíll be playing Marco, all of the new recruits suck) obtains a handful of medals, heíll be invincible for a short period of time. Also, you may be happy to know that the diaper-wearing chimp from MS3 is back in a sense. However, youíre turned into this chimp if a certain enemy injects you with ape serum.
MS4 consists of six stages of the usual Metal Slug mayhem. You run forward and blast the living crap out of anything that moves. Instead of landing on a tropical beach, battling mutant crabs (ah, the memories), youíll start in rather drab looking town, fighting those well-known soldiers of Morden. Later, youíll reach a land covered in snow, fighting more palette swapped soldiers of Morden and a pack of familiar yetis. After this, your chosen soldier will battle through an out of place Egyptian Tomb, where mummies lurk around every corner, transforming you into a member of their own brood. However, grenade shots donít dish out the damage that the Zombie form seen in the previous title, making your player a slowed down version of his/her gun totiní self. Itís also worth noting that the underwater AND the flying stages that were prominent in MS3 have been completely deleted from the system, which also sees the removal of awesome plane and submarine vehicles.
Speaking of guns, MS4 simply gives you the entire great collection of weapons (with the same humorous voice-overs) from MS3. Itís great to blast away Mordenís forces to dust with your ďRawkitĒ launcher or burn their guts out with the laser-gun but Iím sure that youíd want something new to experience. Well, you get this with the 2 HEAVY MACHINE GUNS which do exactly as they say on the tin. Yes, thatís it. No brand new weaponry at all just a small upgrade to an already rather basic weapon, itís a helpful addition but itís hardly a creative one.
Of course, creativity was the key enhancement of MS3 which made it stand out from the crowd. Animal Slugs were the key additions to that ingenuity, riding around on an ostrich loaded with cannon was funny as hell and it was definitely something that could have been improved further. However, MS4 wipes the slate clean and gives us a small selection of bland vehicles that do little to inspire the imagination. Of course, the Metal Slug tanks are back in business and the Bradley missile tanks, that the enemies used in the last encounter can be hijacked and used for your own benefit but the overall selection of vehicles is rather poor. A Metal Claw machine simply bulldozes everything in its path while the Walker machine is the leftovers of the idea of Animal Slugs. Using the left thumbstick to aim (as before) it brings over a sudden feel of nostalgia and disappointment as you realise that itís not going to get any better. One level that brings a bit of that creativity back is the highway stage that sees your player mounted on the sidecar of a motorbike, controlled by one of those P.O.Wís (the ones that look like Jesus Christ.) In this bike, you donít get any new weapons or abilities and have to stick with any basic weapons collected along the way.
That apparent feeling of disappointment is clarified when you reach the end of the stage and have to do battle with some ďhuge and breathtakingĒ (quoted from the box) bosses. Now, the huge mecha-crab on MS3 was breathtaking, as was the giant Aztec ruins as was the enormous detached head of the alien queen, which you had to stay alive on while it plummeted to earth. In MS4, you fight a rather generic airship, an ugly yet large tank and a large robotic head that looks like Truckasaurus from that Simpsonís episode. A handful of rather generic bosses with boring and easy to avoid attack patterns cannot even compare to the sheer quality of some boss battles from the past.
As a further insult, SNK Playmore didnít even pack in any additional features. No Fat Island mini games to gorge in to and nothing that resembles the fantastic Storm the Mothership game. All we get here is a straight port of a rather bland version of a Metal Slug game that can be completed easily over a handful of hours. The removal of great items from MS3 and their replacement with kitsch gadgets is unforgivable. As are the rather poor and easy boss battles that replace the monsters of MS3. Donít be duped into thinking that MS4 will be a sweet deal because of the previous instalmentís brilliance; itís something that the truly hardcore of Metal Slug fans will find enjoyable. Thanks a bunch for robbing me blind,SNK Playmore!! Iíd appreciate if you didnít try to rip off any more people in the future. Thanks!
Community review by goldenvortex (November 17, 2005)
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