Review by Stygian Ablyss

"Double the fun, double the action and double the slowdown!"

Metal Slug, first released back in 1996 was an instant hit. Players were bored with the endless street fighter clones that had emerged, and were probably pleased that a different kind of game was finally made. As always, when a game becomes successful, you can bet there'll be a sequel, and 2 years later, SNK unveiled Metal slug 2. Metal slug 2 proved to be just as fun as it's predecessor, despite being relatively similar.

More of the same....but MUCH more

Metal slug 2 plays exactly like it's predecessor. Upon inserting your precious coin, you will be given a brief tutorial, like all SNK games, and proceed to the character select screen. This time, there are 4 characters to choose from (Marco, Fia, Eri and Tarma) and 2 of them are actually females (to fend of feminists, I guess). The characters are completely similar in ability, only different in appearance and voice, so choosing anyone will do (unless, of course, you like seeing anime girls shoot and scream). The artwork of the characters on the character select screen looks pretty funny, as if giving you a slight preview of the fun you are about to have. And the game is just as fun as it's predecessor.

As in the first game, you run around in a 2D plane again, shooting your little gun and killing as many enemies while avoiding all the incoming enemy attacks. The main difference for the second game is that you have new weapons, a LOT more secrets, and a more vehicles. The laser gun and fire bomb are the 2 new weapons, while new vehicles include a plane, a camel with a gun attached (weird), and some weird machine that can shoot downwards. Not a whole lot of new stuff, but still, there's enough variety, plus weapons still run out of ammo very quickly, so won't you keep them for long. All weapons from the previous game are back, and function exactly the same way.

So far, nothing seems new. And true, metal slug 2 does not offer anything new or original in terms of gameplay. However, metal slug 2 has a whole lot more secrets and stages are quite a lot bigger. This is where the game is vastly different. Many will probably remember who short metal slug was: completing some missions in a few minutes was not impossible. Missions (or stages, if you prefer that name) are longer, and there are a lot more enemies this time. The game requires a lot more skill compared to it's predecessor, as you may find yourself fending a couple of Nazi grunts (yes, those crazy guys are still at it) on one side, while planes, tanks and other nazis assault you from another direction. Unfortunately, you still get only 2 miserable lives, so you'll have to be a LOT more careful this time. The longer stages do make the game more enjoyable (hey, the longer you can an arcade game with 1 credit, the more bang you get for your buck!), plus due to the game's increased difficulty, you'll find it very challenging and entertaining at the same it (it's difficult, but not impossible).

And in metal slug 2, there are far more secrets in the game. Besides having a lot more hidden POWs (prisoners of war), there are even more bonus stuff to find (which all only award points, though). In addition, the stages are far more varied this time, ranging from an Arabian town to the New York china town. Oh, and there are more enemies this time, instead of fighting only Nazi grunts and machines. In the first mission, you get to fight Arabians, while in the second stage you fight mummies, mummy dogs (yeah, weird. Who the hell wants to preserve a dog?!), bats dropping poison, and the like. In fact, upon being hit by a mummy, you will become a mummy, and become ultra slow (although you can still attack). This adds extra tension to the game, and for me it brought back fond memories of another game, Ghost and ghouls (where you got turned into an old man by the wizard). All in all, there's a great deal of additional stuff to do, making the game a whole lot more enjoyable compared to it's predecessor.

There is one major problem with the game though. Due to the age of the MVS board (the neo geo arcade board), it has problems handling huge amounts of sprites. When a LOT of enemies appear (such as mission 4), the board starts spluttering, and the game slows down dramatically. All your actions are slower (fortunately, enemies slow down too), you shoot slower, heck, everything becomes slower. While is is seriously detrimental to your in game character's well-being (not to mention making the game less enjoyable for you), it does help in a little way, since everything becomes slower, you can have a slightly easier time dodging enemy projectiles (after you have gotten used to the slower reaction speed of the character, that is). Still, I find the slowdown irritating and interrupts the hectic pace of the game.

Other than that particular thorn in the bush, you'll find metal slug 2 just as enjoyable, or even more enjoyable than it's predecessor, with the huge amount of secrets in the game, as well as the increased stage length (although unfortunately, SNK still kept the number of stages at 5). Gameplay still remains as hectic as it did before. In particular, during the subway stage, you'll have to literally hammer on the fire button as the Nazis send several trains in succession in an attempt to crush you. Such entertaining events are the highlight of the game, making it enjoyable, hectic and exciting.

You're Great!

Graphically, metal slug is identical (no surprise here, I mean, it uses the same arcade board). The MVS board is starting to show it's age, though. Besides the aforementioned slowdown, certain enemy sprites look slightly pixilated. Backgrounds, however, look better than metal slug did, with more details (such as aliens flying in the background) and with more ''life'' in them. Characters and enemy sprites are drawn in anime style again (but that is to be expected, since SNK is a Japanese company), and their antics still entertaining to watch. Sometimes you will see your character radio for help, or blow bubble gum. The Nazi grunts are still amusing to watch, especially when they run away in fear. So in short, background graphics have improved, while sprites remain pretty much the same.

The music isn't too bad....most of it matches the scenario. The Arabian town has an Arabian tune, while the pyramids have an Egyptian like tune. Most of them sound rather wacky though, and some are recycled from metal slug. I would consider the music slightly above average.....as for sound, the characters sound ok (although the females scream too loudly when they die. Ugh...my poor eardrums...), while most of the Nazis sound the same. The mummies' ''death'' scream sounds rather wacky though. Explosions till go boom, guns still go bang....yeah, you get the idea.

The story hasn't changed much either. Still Nazi's wanting to take over the world, but this time, Aliens are aiding them, of course, the aliens have their own agenda, and are actually plotting the destruction of the human race. So that's the story. Yawn. How typical.

Controls are easy to learn and smooth, except during slowdowns. During the slowdowns, you might find your character responding slightly slower, which may cause you some problems, but other than that, controls are good. As for replay, with all the secrets, POWs, the ''point race'' with the high score screen and the option to play with a friend, the game will keep you entertained for a long time.

Concluding thoughts :

Metal slug 2 remains as fun and entertaining as it's predecessor, and despite the horrendous slowdown that occurs on certain stages and locations, the game is still as hectic, intense and crazy as it's predecessor. If the game is still around in your neighborhood arcade, go and try it. You won't regret it.

Final Scores:

Gameplay : 7.5
Graphics : 6.9
Sound : 7.0
Music : 6.5
Control : 10
Story : 3.0
Originality : 5.0
Replayability : 7.5

Final Score : 8.0

MISSION ALL OVER!


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/19/02, Updated 01/19/02


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