1 July 2008

Seventh time's the charm

Alert WoS viewers will already be familiar with this site's range of views on SNK's Metal Slug series. From hugely refreshing beginnings, the franchise rapidly degenerated into a cynical cash-milking business punting out lazy and inferior titles with ever-growing rapidity and desperation. The nadir actually arrived fairly early, with the abysmal Metal Slug 3, and there have been a few flickers of hope - like the inventive Neo Geo Pocket spinoffs (now excitingly playable via emulation on PSP, finally solving the problem of the NGP's murky un-backlit screen) and the aforementioned GBA title, which came up with many of the ideas that have been more fully fleshed out in this new DS release - but mostly the announcement of a new addition to the Metal Slug family, and especially one belonging to the "proper", numbered branch, has been occasion only for some sad reflections on the latest half-arsed indignities to be inflicted on a once-proud name in the name of a quick profit. 

Metal Slug 7 is, rather startlingly, the best Metal Slug ever.

The game looks vastly better onscreen than in these rather crappy press-release screenshots.

While looking pretty much the same as all the earlier games, and playing in an identical manner, MS7 has seen some fundamental changes just below the surface which have radically improved it as an experience. Most of them are in the metastructure, but there's one great big one in the game itself, which is the most welcome change in the series' formula since the original made its little-heralded debut in unsuspecting arcades back in 1996. (Yeah, it's now well over a decade since Metal Slug 1. I'm afraid you ARE that old.)


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