Review by Chocobahn

"And so we are here to save the day... again."

Anyone who likes run and gun games will definitely be familiar with the Metal Slug series. The cartoonish, vibrant graphics coupled with the chaotic, fast-pace action has propelled this game to an almost God-like status among arcade gamers. So it comes as a surprise that the latest incarnation from SNK has made its way to the DS, and not the arcade. A strange move by SNK, given the game's arcade root. So how does it fair on the small screen?

Plot

I have two words for you, "Who cares?" Like most other arcade games, you don't really bother with the plot, even if there was one. But then again, this is a DS game. So let's see, some bad guys time travelled from the future to wreck havoc in the present. Your task is to send them all to hell, or back to the future, or wherever they come from. A very simple story, and not a very good one at that. But the lack of depth in the storyline is more than made up by the gameplay.

Gameplay

There are two modes of play, and none of them involves two players. In Combat School Mode, you are greeted by Cynthia, your drill instructor. You can play through over 80 mission based "mini-games", ranging from not getting hit to surviving a mission with infinite ammo.

Each mission is rated. As you score more in the mission, your rank naturally increases. As your rank goes up, so will your attractiveness to Cynthia. If you so desired, you can chat with Cynthia, though the one-sided conversations are completely meaningless, and can get quite boring rather quickly.

Luckily, this game is not about hitting on the instructor and getting slapped in the process. This game is about action, and lots of it. In arcade mode, this is where everything happens. For those who are unfamiliar with the series, the game is split into missions. You just blast your way through the missions. Towards the end, you will encounter a boss who you have to defeat. It is your typical run-and-gun arcade style game level design. You can choose any one of the six characters, each slightly different from the others. For example, Marco starts out with a powerful handgun while Eri has more grenades. But in the end, it is all about dodging bullets, killing the enemies and rescuing the POWs.

At times, it can get quite chaotic on screen, bullets flies from every corner of the screen, endless enemies keep appearing from the most unlikely places, and POWs crying for help from some obscure locations.

Metal Slug 7, like the rest of the series, is fast-pace action all the way. The familiar slugs are back, and there are new ones. Most noticeably, you can pilot a full-screen mecha to do battle with yet another full-screen mecha.

Unfortunately, all the action only happens on the top screen. The touch screen is used as a mini map showing the whereabouts of power-ups and POWs. You can touch the map to move it forward or backwards, but the usability of the map is questionable, not in the least human only have two hands, and both are occupied with navigating and killing the enemies on the main screen. Players are unlikely to look at the map. It feels like that the feature was added as an afterthought.

The lack of a two player mode is also a big disappointment. Playing in two player mode is one of the fun things to do in a run-and-gun game like Metal Slug. Whether you laugh at your friend's demise or angry at them for not saving you, there is always something about the two player mode that appeals to gamers. The lack of this feature is solely missed in Metal Slug 7.

Graphics

The Metal Slug series has always been colourful. And the seventh in the series is no exception. The environment is detailed and vivid. It fairs no worse than the arcade versions of its predecessors, considering the screen estate. But because of the screen size, everything might feel crowded and hectic, and small.

Sound

Sound effects aplenty, and with an action packed screen, you are bounded to hear all the sound effects coming at you all at once. Enemies dying, bullets flying through the air, your own scream of death, they are all there. The music is clear, fast-paced, and adequate. They are not intrusive or feel repetitive.

Replay Value

There are plenty of replay values to be had. The 80 odd mini missions may not be satisfying enough for players, given that they are just repeats of the main missions with different conditions. However, the scoreboard might make things a little bit more interesting. Each difficulty settings have its own scoreboard, so there should be plenty of replay value for those who want to beat their own score.

The game also keeps track of the POWs rescued. So for the perfectionist out there, this is another goal that will keep them busy for a while.

Otherwise, it offers little in terms of replayability once the main mission is over.

Overall

Metal Slug 7 is an action packed run-and-gun game that offers simple controls, vivid graphics, and great gameplay. It is not perfect. The lack of a two-player mode is a big disappointment, but that should not be a deterrent not to play this game.

Being a run-and-gun game, it never gets tired. Each mission does not last very long, so you can play it in small burst. This is one advantage over playing it on the arcade. You have to complete the game from start to finish in one session on the arcade, but on the DS, you can complete one mission, and leave it for later.

It might not be perfect, but it is a great game that offers everything that the franchise is famous for.

Good:

* Simple gameplay
* Simple control
* Fast pace action
* Almost everything you would expect from the Metal Slug series

Bad:

* No two-player mode
* No life bar. One touch from a bullet and you are dead.
* Can be quite hectic and messy at times

Score (out of 10)

Plot: 2
Gameplay: 8
Graphics: 7
Sound: 7
Replay: 6

Overall: 7


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 01/28/09

Game Release: Metal Slug 7 (JP, 07/17/08)


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