Metal Slug 7 Review - March 14th 2009

The timeless handheld series, Metal Slug is back with an emphatic bang.

Metal Slug feels like it's been around forever. Whether on the Neo-Geo, Saturn, PlayStation or even, later this year, Microsoft's Live Arcade, the SNK Playmore series spits in the face of change and gives Father Time a big fat evil. If the developers applied this same Peter Pan ethos to the first person shooter market we'd forever be shooting Nazis and demon sprites. However, as recent novel titles like Braid and Bionic Commando: Rearmed have attested, 2D is timeless, and Metal Slug 7's classic mix of side-scrolling anarchy, fluid, hand-drawn visuals and disarming sense of humour (we challenge you to find a game where the Wilhelm Scream is better suited) is worn like a badge of pride. Made from imperishable plastic.

The story is completely expendable, but nevertheless there is one: taking place before the events of Metal Slug 4, the Peregrine Falcon Strike Force and the SPARROWS are on a mission to prevent General Morden - a man who loves a good coup d'état - from taking over the government alongside a strange and powerful new army from the future. It's hardly MGS4, but the fun of these games has never been in emotional investment. All you need to know is that bullets make people die, and grenades make people die louder.

This is one game people don't want to change.

The same 6 characters from the last game return to help you. Marco, Tarma, Fio, Eri, Ralf and Clark each have a unique ability, whether it's a 50% boost in ammo, a super fast melee attack speed or even, in Ralf's case, a cool sounding and even cooler looking move called the 'Argentinean Backbreaker', and although there's no huge difference between the 6 besides their loud, cheeky, cartoony design, there's a certain freshness associated with giving a high score run another go with a different character.

While we can hardly fault Metal Slug 7 on its ageless formula, we do have reservations about its lack of what should be a requirement in all side-scrolling shooters: co-op. Sure, it might have proved difficult to tell your character apart from your mate's amid the hectic gunfire and numerous green-garbed, bug-eyed soldiers, but dammit, this is Metal Slug. If we can trade Pokémon with some bloke in America without the need of a wire, we should be able to team up and lay double the smackdown on General Morden.

That looks more than painful.

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