IGN Preview of Metal Slug 7
When it comes to classic arcade goodness, Metal Slug reigns supreme. With some of the most brutal gameplay and slickest 2D animation out there, the series has seen six "core" titles, and then a whole slew of variations, portable spin-offs, and compilations. With Metal Slug 7, SNK has delivered a seven-mission arcade experience on Nintendo's portable, and is trying to keep things classically simple, but still strong enough to be worth your cash.
Just like any of the previous Metal Slug games, Metal Slug 7 is all about big guns, lots of violence, and classic run-and-gun action, and yes, blood is in. People are already comparing this one to DS's Contra 4 experience, as both games offer a rebirth to their series, and have always existed in the same general camp of gamer, but there are some major differences, and you'll see them right away. We're sure this will eventually spawn some pretty entertaining "Contra 4 vs. Metal Slug 7" debates across the net, but for right now we're just happy to be hitting the battlefield again and laying down some much-needed carnage.
Visually, Metal Slug 7 takes inspiration from the original arcade experiences gamers know and love, but it's also bound to raise yet another debate around the game. Taking from original animation sets from previous games, Metal Slug 7 scales everything down to about half size, allowing more room for bosses and a clear view of the playfield, but also compressing the size of all the slick, classic animation. In another bold move, the touch screen on DS Is virtually useless, having a small, low-res mini-map that can be panned around, but no other reason to even glance away from the top screen at all. Once bullets start whizzing by your head you'll understand why - a second screen in a game like Metal Slug may actually cause brain hemorrhages in even the most hardcore gamers - but it's still odd to have a DS game that basically shrugs off the second screen altogether. Hell, just throw some badass concept art down there or something; the map is pretty useless. This is an arcade Metal Slug experience, and if it ain't broke, don't fix it. That's the mentality SNK has going into this one.
As far as content goes, Metal Slug 7 is a straight-shot arcade experience. You've got seven missions to play through, each with their own gargantuan boss and handful of playable vehicles and weapons, a ranking area where you can check your own scores and times in each level (local only; no wireless sharing), a list of all captured POW's in the game, and a combat school with 80 tweaked missions in the form of challenges. You'll get six main characters, all available from the get-go, including Ralf, Marco, Tarma, Eri, Flo, and Clark. Each character has their own proficiency (Flo has more ammo than anyone else, Clark can throw enemies, and Eri gets a boost with explosives), each can carry two special weapons at once, but none of them can slide or dodge like in some previous Metal Slug experiences. Outside of that though, the main game is going to need to keep you satisfied, as there's no multiplayer, no Wi-Fi rankings or connectivity, and no other modes.
Once you hit the turf in Mission 1, however, seasoned Metal Slug fans will remember why they were so eager to pick the game up in the first place, as the speed and intensity of the arcade games is translated well into Metal Slug 7, which is a pretty big achievement on such a small screen. You won't find branching paths, and we were sad to see that in the game's seven missions there was no mummy level, no zombies, and no "fat boy" mode to bulk up your fighter. There are plenty of vehicles to see though, and a new gun or two (the tesla coil rules), as well as some pretty huge bosses. You'll see some general slowdown at times - it wouldn't be a classic arcade experience without it, right? - and some of the backgrounds could look a little nicer, from what we've seen so far, but the core experience is there. All we need now is a clicky analog stick from the Neo Pocket, and we'd be set for life. The overall experience thus far has kicked the crap out of Metal Slug Advance (which was a fun game in its time, but lacked as much on-screen action as its arcade inspirations) but it's also shorter, taking about an hour or so to rip through on easy.
We've currently only played a handful of challenges, and beaten the game on easy, with it half finished on normal, so there's plenty more to see before we start handing out scores in a couple months. We'll say right now though, that not having multiplayer in Metal Slug is like not having bikini-clad babes in a beer commercial. Sure, you still get the point of it all, but your left feeling a bit scared, and perhaps a little confused. Where's my co-op!?
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