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Metal Slug Anthology
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Metal Slug Anthology - Review
Written by James Hobbs

Metal Slug Anthology is undoubtedly the gaming equivalent of a B-Movie. If you've ever seen one of those dodgy war films shown on daytime television when you're pulling a sicky, you'll know what to expect from a game like this. It's unashamedly repetitive, unrelenting, and shallow, but more importantly it ticks all the right boxes along the way. If you're expecting something deep, this might not be for you. If you want to have glorious, violent, incandescent fun without having to worry about anything other than merely surviving, then you're looking at the right game.

Metal Slug Anthology Screenshot
Guns, violence, and beards. Sweet.
Metal Slug Anthology brings together a number of games, forming a compendium of the series. Metal Slugs 1, 2, X, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are all present and accounted for, which theoretically makes the game rather good value. Admittedly these games are, for the most part, fairly old, but it's still a fairly hefty amount of gaming crushed onto one disc. At least, you'd think so.

Worry begins to creep in as the menu appears. Possibly the most ropey, crappy looking menu in existence greets you, looking like the product of 2 hours hard slogging by a GCSE IT student. It really is terrible. It's also rather hard to navigate around, at least initially, so most people will find themselves stumbling right into Metal Slug 1 without really getting their bearings. That's probably the best way.

As soon as the game starts, the violence begins. All of the sprites and backgrounds are hand-drawn, and as such retain a wonderful fluidity that isn't interrupted when you shoot someone in the neck, arterial blood spraying everywhere. It's just absolutely fun. The annoyance of the menu is put aside, as you begin to realise just how damned hard this game is. We've been playing it for quite a while now, and still can't manage to get very far without dying.

The game's incredibly vague story pits you as some kind of soldier, fighting against some kind of enemy. Along the way there are bedraggled and bearded prisoners of war rescuing these guys and staying alive until the end of the level gives you extra points. It's also near impossible. There are just so many enemies and obstacles it's literally impossible to stay alive unless you have the reaction time of a fly. Frustration takes on a whole new meaning. It's that hard.

Of course, our struggle with the game could be attributed to our relatively young years I can practically hear older gamers groaning and wheezing about how 'they're not as hard as they used to be.' To be honest, they're probably quite right, and Metal Slug hammers this home viciously. It's hard. Really hard.

Unfortunately, it's also really short. The first game doesn't take that long to defeat, as you have unlimited continues, and as such you can romp through all of the games on the disc in a matter of hours. The games are also fairly similar thematically you merely progress through various environments shooting faceless enemies and destroying buildings and vehicles.

However, it's the way in which the game executes itself that makes it worth playing. It seems to have been designed exclusively for a warped young adult mind massive robots stomp dangerous over the landscape, camels with lasers provide transportation, and there's even a high-speed car chase racing giant missiles. It's absolutely absurd, but in a good way often throughout the game we found ourselves saying 'Woah' out loud. For a 2D sprite-based game, it really is impressive.

The controls do let the majesty of the action down somewhat, however. There's a number of different control modes available, including motion-sensing modes and they're all rubbish. The only vaguely passable control mode we found was the default one the controller is held on it's side, and the D-Pad used to move. This works fine, for the most part, other than the fact you have to sling the remote in front of you in order to throw grenades. It doesn't really work very well, feels incongruent, and the grenades would have been better off mapped to another button.

These niggles don't really every amount to enough to detract from the game itself massively, and as such it's somewhat of a triumph. It's simple, action-packed, and stuffed full of ridiculous ideas and weapons picking up a shotgun for the first time and decimating hordes of the undead is a wonderful feeling, as is finding and piloting a submarine. There's replay value in terms of unlockable extras and high-points scores, but despite how unrelentingly fun and entertaining Metal Slug Anthology is, it simply still isn't enough to necessarily warrant shelling out 40 for it.

If you're a fan of side-scrolling insane action games, then it might well be worth picking up everyone else, if you can't find it on the cheap, I wouldn't bother. It's unlikely to hold your interest for long enough to be worth buying. Personally, I can't get enough of the damn thing.

The verdict:

Glorious violence and action on an unfortunate budget one for fans of the genre.


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