Review by discoinferno84

"You can beat him..."

General Morden is an idiot. You'd think that after getting his ass kicked in Metal Slug and sent to prison for war crimes, the guy would shape up and try to regain some dignity. Nevertheless, everyone's favorite fanatical dictator is back and attempting to take over the world again. He's not just relying on military strength anymore, either; he's come in contact with a bunch of Independence Day rejects and is using their alien technology to further his own ambitions. With the American government on the verge of collapse and an impending alien invasion on their hands, Marco Rossi and Tarma Roving return to the battlefield and continue their roles as the heroes of Metal Slug 2 and the saviors of humanity.

The dynamic duo won't be kicking ass alone, however. After winning fame and glory for their Peregrine Falcons Special Forces unit, our heroes have managed to convince a few more of their team to participate in the rampant bloodshed. Eri Kasamoto and Fio Germi make their debut as a pair of femme fatales with just as much combat prowess as their male counterparts. It doesn't really matter who you choose this time around; as with the first game, the combat in Metal Slug 2 revolves entirely around blasting your enemies to smithereens. A single soldier can be cut down with a single bullet or knife slash, but twenty of them can pose a problem. That's on top of the armies of tanks, planes, ships (including an epic caricature of Space Cruiser Yamato!), UFOs, and mutant freaks. Armed with your trusty pistols, machine guns, and rocket launchers, you'll get to send the city streets awash in the blood of your foes.

For those of you that have played the first Metal Slug, all of this should sound fairly familiar. There's no time or need for stealth in this game; you march through the levels and shoot everything that gets in your way. With so many new challenges and expanded levels to fight through, your weapons just won't be enough this time. Accordingly, the game boasts an expanded arsenal of armaments, including handheld laser cannons, mortar shells, and Molotovs. In the previous game, the only vehicles you could commandeer were a bunch of wimpy little tanks; this time, you'll be able to kick ass on camels (complete with hump-mounted semiautomatics) and blast through enemies in a mech a la Matrix Revolutions. Needless to say, you won't have to rely on those heavy machine guns so much anymore.

Despite such awesome additions, however, not everything in Metal Slug 2 is superior to its predecessor. There isn't nearly as much wanton destruction this time; before; you could smash through nearly any part of a given level in your attempt to annihilate the opposition. This time, the game places more emphasis on slaughtering more enemies as opposed to setting and atmosphere. Unfortunately, having so many highly-animated baddies on the screen at once makes the gameplay slow to a crawl, which is essentially the opposite of the fast-paced gunning that Metal Slug strove for. There are few things cooler than gunning down baddies on a spiraling rope bridge in the middle of a snowstorm, but not horribly slow pace kills any fun it could have had. Having tons more weapons and facing twenty or more enemies at the same time is a great concept, but SNK didn't bother to implement it correctly.

The game tries to make up for its shortcomings by refining the characters with smoother and fluid animations. Many of General Morden's soldiers retain their signature large noses and comically oversized helmets, but they'll start laughing if a character dies. After feeding the machine another quarter, those same foes will start screaming as your character returns to life. The aliens, on the other hands, are far more sinister looking; their flowing tentacles and grotesquely beady eyes mark them out as truly dangerous foes. Many of the death animations have been reworked to show off even more blood spewing out the bullet wounds, agonized screaming and charred corpses, and the smoke haze left after a barrage of grenade blasts. Though your characters retain their traditional designs, they'll be able to morph into morbidly obese sizes should they eat enough of the food strewn throughout the battleground. Many of the levels have been reworked in a more epic style; as opposed to shooting through urban landscapes, you'll have to ascend stony pillars, dodge car-sized missiles in a battle stretching across an entire harbor, and even take down an alien mothership amidst the fiery ruins of human civilization.

This isn't the Metal Slug you used to know. Sure, the fundamental gameplay is still the same; all you have to do is keep spamming the fire button until your enemies collapse into bloody heaps. Yes, the characters you know and love have made their triumphant return, continuing the story with more wacky allies and even stranger adversaries. So the classic weapons and enemies are back, including an updated arsenal for both the Regular and Rebel Armies. Unfortunately, SNK deiced to place too much emphasis on bloodshed and sacrificed part of the gameplay that made the first game so damned awesome. This one glaring flaw aside, Metal Slug 2 is a fitting sequel for a game loved by so many.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 03/19/07

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