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Metal Slug 6 (PlayStation 2) artwork

Metal Slug 6 (PlayStation 2) review

"Metal Slug has had a prominent position in the history of arcade gaming over the last ten years. From Metal Slug 1, which was one of the opening titles for the Neo-Geo arcade hardware, to Metal Slug 5, which was one of the final titles for the dying Geo, Metal Slug has always been associated with the classic arcade feel of having to spend two thirds of your pocket money attempting to finish it. Metal Slug has survived for over ten years and three different owners. First, there was SNK, which mad..."

Metal Slug has had a prominent position in the history of arcade gaming over the last ten years. From Metal Slug 1, which was one of the opening titles for the Neo-Geo arcade hardware, to Metal Slug 5, which was one of the final titles for the dying Geo, Metal Slug has always been associated with the classic arcade feel of having to spend two thirds of your pocket money attempting to finish it. Metal Slug has survived for over ten years and three different owners. First, there was SNK, which made the first three Metal Slugs. Most fans will tell you those were the best ones. Then there was Playmore, the company that bought out SNK. They released Metal Slug 4 and Metal Slug 5. MSlug4 was a horrible excuse for a Metal Slug game, replacing half the character lineup and adding in tons of poorly-executed extras. Finally, Metal Slug got sold to Sammy in a final desperate bid by Playmore's executives to sell their ailing company, which had only ever developed for a system that would no longer exist.

Metal Slug 6 is the first Metal Slug game to be released by Sammy. For the first few months after the initial announcement, many fans believed there was no way it could fail anywhere near as badly as Metal Slug 4, 5, or Metal Slug 3D (an abortion of an attempt to translate Metal Slug into a 3D rail shooter that was thankfully never released stateside). Then the game was released, and everyone saw that maybe, there was hope for the Metal Slug series.

For those of you who lived a deprived childhood and never visited an arcade, Metal Slug plays like many games you have heard of: Contra or Megaman. The game begins by picking one of four soldiers - traditionally, the lineup has been Marco, Fio, Tarma, and Eri. From there, you proceed to blow the crap out of soldiers, tanks, enormous killer robots, giant fighter jets, and anything else dumb enough to cross your path. What made Metal Slug so unique was not the game genre, but the quirks added in by the people at SNK. There were multiple paths in every level, each of which led to a very different route to the boss. There were amazing visuals and sound, and then there was one last thing. In the first three Metal Slugs, it was quite possible to beat the game saving every captured soldier you possibly could, without ever dying once. Metal Slug 4 and 5 failed precisely because the people at Playmore threw all of these things out the window.

Metal Slug 6 brings back many of the things that made the original three games good, while adding new features without detracting from the gameplay. The first noticeable change is in the Soldier Select screen - the original four soldiers of the Peregrine Falcon squad are back, with two new additions from SNK's only other noteable franchise: Ralf and Clark. Now, you might ask; what is the point of adding new characters if the character you picked in the original games had no bearing on anything other than some visuals? To answer this question, the soldier you pick now has an actual bearing on the game, with each soldier having a unique quality that makes them the best choice for the job. Marco's pistol does twice as much damage as everyone else's. Fio starts out with a Heavy Machine Gun, and gets more ammunition for special weapons. Tarma can take twice as many hits and fire several times faster in a Metal Slug tank or other vehicle. Eri is a grenade specialist. Then you have Ralf and Clark. Ralf tosses away the traditional combat knife/fork for his fists, which attack twice as fast and can break tanks if used properly. He's also man enough to take two hits to die, instead of one like everyone else, but his manliness causes him to only carry half the ammo everyone else does. Clark has his special move from King of Fighters, and can use it to whore points like no one else can. Together, these special abilities make a huge difference on the game.

The levels and boss fights in Metal Slug 6 share the same unique "WHAT THE HELL IS THAT THING" quality as every other Metal Slug. From a massive tank sliding down the side of a mountain at hundreds of miles per hour launching gigantic missiles at you to a screen-filling eel that wants your soldier for dinner, the boss encounters manage to live up to the legacy built by the first three Metal Slugs. My only personal complaint is the third boss, an enormous sewer-crawling robot with a huge laser mounted on it. Up until the third boss, it is quite possible (like every other Metal Slug) to save every soldier and not die. However, the third boss has a massive screenspam attack that it uses frequently. There are only two ways to survive this attack - either you play as Tarma and use the included Metal Slug and your XBox-sized life bar that accompanies it, or you are forced to use the "vehicle hang time" glitch, whereby you cannot be harmed while jumping out of or into a vehicle. Other than that extremely cheap and annoying boss, the rest of the game is fine.

The general game also has some extremely annoying new items, most of which consist of the new enemies. In Metal Slug 6, Marco and his squad are allied with General Morden (villain of the original Metal Slug) and the Mars People (the little green tentacle aliens that appeared in Metal Slug 3) against a new species of alien. These new aliens have not tiny laser pistols, but are giant spiked monstrosities that roll around the screen at insane speeds in an attempt to kill you off. The problem I have with them is that they're invincible when rolling around, which is something every one of the other Metal Slug games avoided having - enemies with any period of invincibility at all. Also added is the Z-Saber (yes, it's called the Z-Saber in-game), which functions exactly like the blade from Megman that it rips off. The Z-Saber may be extremely powerful, but only works at melee range, and tends to show up when there are masses of aliens on the screen, where it can actually become a hindrance to pick up. Melee in Metal Slug 6 is essentially useless, as most enemies will kill you if you get anywhere near them. This is a total breakoff from the old Metal Slugs, where an enemy had to directly hit you with a projectile or melee weapon to kill you off. In the old Metal Slugs, melee combat was a necessity if you wanted to complete the game without dying - most notably the clone/zombie level of Metal Slug 3

My other pet peeve about MSlug6 is the lack of any of the "hidden" powerups that were in every other Metal Slug game. Get hit with a zombie's juices in Metal Slug 2 or 3, and you become a zombie yourself, with a lumbering, slow walk and an attack speed to match. However, your grenades turned into your soldier vomiting blood in a screen-encompassing arc, destroying everything, and bullets could not kill you. Get hit by zombie juice again, though, and you die. Collect enough food powerups, and you became fat, doubling your weapon's power. There were plenty of others, but none of them are in Metal Slug 6, which is a disappointment.

Sammy also managed to bring back the visuals and sound that made Metal Slug what it is, with one saddening exception. Gone is the old announcer from Metal Slug 2/X/3, most known for his inability to correctly pronounce the words "rocket launcher", ending up with the classic (and unable to be conveyed properly by text) sound of "RAWKEET LAWNCHAIR!". Replacing him is an announcer that seems to have taken English classes. The music is still the same amazing techno soundtrack that worked for every other Metal Slug game, but one wonders why they did not rehire the old announcer.

All in all, I'd say that you should at least give Metal Slug 6 a chance, especially if you're a huge fan of the series. Finding it will not be easy. Even finding a torrent of the ISO for use with Swap Magic or a PS2 modchip is an ordeal in and of itself. However, on the off-chance you ever do find a torrent or see it in an arcade somewhere, give it a shot. You won't regret blowing every quarter you have. For the rest of us, Metal Slug 7 is supposedly coming out for the DS eventually. MSlug6 gets an 8/10, mostly for being the single hope at reviving the Metal Slug franchise, and managing to not totally fail while doing so.

timrod's avatar
Community review by timrod (December 20, 2007)

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