Metal Slug X review
Some of you may have already looked at the screenshots and thought, "what is this doing on the PlayStation?!" Some of you may even have looked the review title and remembered the original Neo arcade versions of the Metal Slug series and thought "what is this doing on the PlayStation?!" Well, I can tell you that for whatever reason Virgin Interactive decided on bringing a version of this classic series onto the PlayStation, it was a brilliant idea to do so.
I must, of course, bring up the graphics first and get this clear out of way. Yes, the game is indeed 2D, and yes, the backgrounds are pre-rendered, but it's some of the finest 2D graphics ever seen. The animations are so smooth and the overall look of the game is well rounded and not at all jagged. This is highly commendable 2D, and can be liked to the brilliance some of Capcom's PlayStation 2D beat-em-ups.
Being a two-dimensional game, the gameplay is obviously different from that of a 3D shoot-em-up. Instead of back/forward, up/down, left/right, we go back to scroll left/right, and look up/down. More modern players (especially owners of a modern PC, or a next-generation console) will probably not to be used to this old style of play, but should find it easy to adjust to, and veterans of this genre should be pleased with this faithful recreation of 2D gameplay. Scrolling along may make you feel a bit restricted at first, but you soon discover that the gameplay allows for you to jump on to multiple platforms for a slight bit of freedom of route, and most fun of all, the ability to jump into the occasional vehicle and kick some ass in your overly powerful mechanical machine. The also features many weapons, including classic machine guns and flamethrowers, most of which are collected when you free the prisoners of war. The whole game is just a brilliant example of gameplay over graphics.
Moving on to the two player mode, I must point out that I had more fun reviewing this game with someone else, as this game becomes better when there are two of you involved. By pressing start, player two joins you, and immediately you realise how much fun it is working together as a team on this game. New tactics come into play, such as surrounding enemies, and one person going ahead, the other staying behind. The use of multiple routes is also better suited to dual playing, as nothing is missed by the players. Vehicles in the two player mode have to be shared between the players, causing you and your mate to rush for them (the same happens with POWs), but this is great fun, and breaks the continuous all-for-one attitude for a bit.
The gameplay may be great, the sound is slightly lacking. Although there is some pretty good music and sound effects, the quality is poor, and probably similar to the original Metal Slug. This may be fine for graphics, where gameplay comes into play, but sound is a thing on it's own in all but the most advanced of games (like Soldier of Fortune 2, where listening for footsteps can help you remain undetected). The sounds can be a good addition to the gameplay, but it's just a pity that the PlayStation's great sound processor wasn't put to better use.
This game is immediately fun, and will want you to keep playing right until the end, but the fact that this is a short arcade game means that you have to, but you will only be playing for a few hours before you reach the end. However, on completion, you unlock some harder extra missions, and there is a combat school in the game to hone your skills on. Hardcore 2D shoot-em-up players will want to complete the game again and again, trying to use less continues each time.
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