Have you ever seen a squirrel on crack? I haven’t either, but I would imagine that witnessing something like that would be similar to playing through Metal Slug 4 & 5: entertaining, hilarious and manic, but not something that would hold your attention for an extended amount of time.
Like most of the 2D side-scrolling arcade shooters of yesterday, Metal Slug is an insanely fast game that will challenge even the most resolute players. It amazes me how a game that only lets you move in two directions can be so difficult.
Yes, Metal Slug is incredibly hard, despite the simplistic controls. Since this is a 2D game, your movement is very limited: you can move left or right, jump and duck, and in Metal Slug 5 you can slide. That’s it. You never have to worry about the horrible “click” of an empty clip, because your starting weapon has infinite ammo and doesn’t require reloading. When you obtain a weapon power-up, your character will automatically switch to the new gun, and then switch back to your primary weapon when you are out of ammo. Various vehicles are also scattered throughout the levels, allowing you to hop onboard and do more damage.
The challenge comes from wave after wave of enemies that bombard you from all directions, while vehicular reinforcements roll in behind the foot soldiers, and helicopters and paratroopers attack you from above. It is near impossible to dodge all of this ammunition at once, let alone shirk the pressure of having to shoot back.
Both Metal Slug 4 & 5 have a continue button, but this actually comes as a double-edged sword. With an infinite number of continues the games seem easier to get through, but at the same time, it also removes some of the challenge. And challenge is what keeps gamers interested. Had SNK limited the number of continues allowed, or added a menu option for players to decide that detail for themselves, the games would have had longer lasting appeal.
Regardless of the facts that 1) the game is extremely short-lived, and 2) the repetition of shooting, running and dying appears to be fruitless, the Metal Slug 4 & 5 pack is addictive, especially when played with a friend. Co-op mode is what gives these frantic arcade shooters an added layer of enjoyment. Although the action is so fast, and there is so much happening at once that it becomes difficult to distinguish which player you are, you can rest easy that you are going to die either way. The co-op mode would have had more of an impact if you and your friend actually had to work together to get through the missions, instead of having infinite spawns handed to you on a silver platter via the “continue” option.
The enemies and levels are fantastic, with players dropped-in on exotic locations and pitting you against a diverse array of villains, from mummies to pirates to zombies. The games, which are well designed, also have a great sense of humor. Throughout your short but chaotic adventure, you will more than likely be turned into a snowman, one of the living dead, and my personal favorite: a monkey. Watching your character move around like a simian is not only entertaining, it also allows your character to climb across poles and ropes that are otherwise inaccessible.
Metal Slug 4 & 5 are fun, but considering that you can run through them in about as much time as it would take you to watch the latest Rob Schneider film, I’d say this combo pack is worth even less than the ticket price to see Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo.
- Overall: 6.5
- Unless you are a die-hard fan of the series, there isn’t enough game here to justify a purchase.
— K Robie