Metal Slug 7 (メタルスラッグ 7?) is a run and gun video game developed by SNK Playmore for the Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable and Xbox Live Arcade. It is the eighth title in the main Metal Slug series. It was announced in the September 2007 issue of Famitsu and marks the first game in the main series that will be released without an arcade version. The game was released in Japan on July 22, 2008 and North America on November 28, 2008 by Ignition Entertainment.
A revised version of the game, titled Metal Slug XX (メタルスラッグ XX?), also known as Metal Slug Double X, was released on December 23, 2009 in Japan and North America on February 23, 2010 by Atlus for the PlayStation Portable. This version of the game features additional content, including co-op multiplayer and downloadable content. Metal Slug XX was also released on Xbox Live Arcade on May 19, 2010.
For die-hard action fans, few franchises out there satisfy like SNK’s Metal Slug brand. The series is known for endless streams of bullets, amazing 2D animation, a quirky sense of humor, and all out explosion-filled, blood-splattering, kick-a-baby-in-the-head awesomeness. When you’re grabbing a quick burger at a local eatery, and you’ve got one loose quarter to drop, Slug is the cabinet most gamers look for.
In an odd move though, Metal Slug 7 – SNK’s latest in the franchise, though set just before Metal Slug 4 in the story – has been brought only to DS, shedding any kind of arcade release at all for a pocket debut instead. What’s even odder, especially for a huge fan of the series such as myself, who waited forever for Metal Slug Advance, bought a Neo Pocket just for Slug’s offering, and even dropped full price for the initial Metal Slug 3 Xbox release, is that there really looks to be no advantage to Metal Slug 7 being on DS at all. Yes, you get your standard set of missions, a few new vehicles (three, in fact) or “Slugs” if you’re late to the Metal Slug party, but outside of an entertaining arcade-inspired package, the game doesn’t offer any sort of lasting motivation, DS tech enhancements, or multiplayer into the mix. The Metal Slug fan in me still goes nuts for the gameplay, which is just as quick and responsive as ever, but the realist in me is begging for more from this thin, one-shot experience.
I’m not telling hardcore Metal Slug fans to pass this one up. In fact, if you’re anything like me, that’s an impossibility, a new Metal Slug means plus one more purchase; that’s just how it goes. Still, when it comes to stacking this one up against the other DS offerings out there, or even the previous Metal Slug games – pocket or otherwise – Metal Slug 7 constantly comes up short. It has a fun core, but there’s nowhere to go after it.
Gameplay is obviously the reason the franchise took off in the first place, and Metal Slug 7 feels like a true successor to the series. There weren’t any seriously “out there” ideas in this one, such as growing fatter for eating too much, turning into zombies, or branching paths, but as far as the core gameplay goes, this Slug won’t disappoint. The three new vehicles are good fun, including the impressively huge Slug Gigant (a huge mech that does battle with, you guess it, other huge mechs), and then two more standard additions in the Slug Truck and battle-suit Heavy Armor. It’s a nice little touch of flavor into the otherwise very standard Metal Slug affair, but they’re great designs, and the Gigant specifically was done extremely well, housed on stage filled with snow, and plenty of other baddies to decimate as you trample over the world.
Where Metal Slug 7 doesn’t deliver though, is staying power. No multiplayer is an unfortunate move in and of itself, but what’s really puzzling is that the game was made specifically for DS, yet it doesn’t have anything that makes it a larger offering than a standard arcade game. You’ve got a few challenges to rip through, a very simple front end, and as expected, a area where you can view your saved POW buddies, but that’s it. No expansive single player campaign or story format, no endless pile of arrange modes or fun cheats to alter the core arcade game, and no real stat tracking or online offering that connects users to each other for any sort of competitive “I’m better than you are” Metal Slug playing. When in-game, in fact, only one screen is used for action, while the touch screen is used for an extremely simple (very rushed, by the looks of it) mini-map. While I’m perfectly fine with the game running off just the top screen (Metal Slug never needed a 2nd before; why would it now?) there are better options for the extra touch interface and display than a mini-map. It’s used to show off where remaining POWs are in the level, but in a game that’s more about fast reactions and carnage, I seldom found myself using it at all.
As you’d expect, the animation and overall sense of action in Metal Slug 7 is pretty impressive, and while it looks like most of the frames are kept in the game, all the sprites and pre-existing art has been crunched down to fit on DS, and that can cause some problems. Backgrounds, for example, look fine at first glance, but can be pretty first pass when comparing it to previous Slug titles. Since the game is basically taking pre-made animations and art, and then crunching it down, you also get some odd tearing and strange little pixel shifts during animations. It looks pretty good at a glance, and most players may not even notice the subtle oddities, but hardcore Slug fans will certainly sense a change.
Metal Slug 7 is a fun game, and when all is said and done, it’s not about what’s there being broken or unpolished overall, but what was left out entirely. There are odd little animation issues, and I could have used more variation in the level designs and concepts, but what it really comes down to is that Metal Slug 7 is a one-shot arcade effort, single player only, and a few challenges to try and bulk up the game ever-so-slightly. It’s fun, but when you’re finished blasting through it in an hour or so (which is how long a first trip through Easy or Normal will take most gamers), there’s almost nothing left to see. The touch screen isn’t implemented well, be it for touch or as a second display screen, there’s no real connectivity from user to user via any online, stat sharing, or the obvious multiplayer, and outside of playing through the game with various members of the six-person cast – each having a slight edge over the other with specific skills – there’s no real reason to play this game more than a few times through. It’s fun, and if you’re a Metal Slug fan I’d encourage you to still pick it up, as it’s more from the franchise many of us love to a stalker-like degree, but when you put it up against other offerings on the system Metal Slug 7 comes up seriously short. What’s here is fun. What’s missing, however, is staying power.
|Metal Slug 7|
|Release date(s)||Metal Slug 7
|Genre(s)||Run and gun|
|Mode(s)||Single player, Multiplayer (XX Version Only)|
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