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JadeDragon's game reviews and playing tips: Nintendo DS game reviews

Metal Slug 7

Review posted July 2009 by Edwin Kee

Publisher: SNK Playmore
Developer: Ignition Entertainment
Release Date: November 2009
ESRB: “T” for Teen
Genre: Action
Price: $29.99

The Metal Slug series is one ongoing franchise that doesn't seem to offer anything new with each release; instead, it offers more of the same in (logically) bigger and more challenging propositions. Of course, a lot of it also depends on the system which it is released for, making its way from the arcade cabinets of yore to current generation home consoles. Well, how about the portable format? After all, the graphics aren't really that heavy duty in all of its 2D glory which means the DS is more than able to handle it all.

While you're not able to enjoy Metal Slug on a large display, at least you get to carry it around with you. True to the franchise form, there is a bevy of characters to choose from, where each of them has different abilities and specialties, although to the seasoned veteran, the difference wouldn't be too much of a hindrance to complete the game. While Metal Slug 7 for the Nintendo DS will likely please the franchise followers, one glaring remission is the co-op gameplay, black eye to the franchise as this is one title that will shine with that feature, especially given the convenience of Wi-Fi connectivity on the Nintendo DS.

Gameplay

Fans of the franchise will be extremely pleased to find out that gameplay is still centered on run-and-gun shooting, where you can choose from half a dozen commandos, armed with an arsenal of weapons that you can pick up along the way to decimate the enemies that come into your path. You don't really need a story to play the Metal Slug series, but it doesn't hurt to know that this story is a prequel to Metal Slug 4 (never mind the difference in numbers), where the famous Peregrine Falcon Strike Force troops attempt to go head-to-head against General Morden and his allies from the future.

You won't find yourself short on action when it comes to small bursts of gameplay while waiting in line or riding to work. In fact, all you need to do is shoot anything that moves, where they all have a predetermined pattern (especially the bosses) or weak points/openings that you can take advantage of. You have a wide range of weapons at your disposal, although certain weapons work better against selected scenarios and enemies than others. Quick reflexes are required if you want to survive the adventure, but thankfully the healthy amount of continues comes in handy.

There are two modes to choose from – the standard arcade style where you are able to complete the whole story in one sitting (if you have the time, skills and battery power, of course) alongside a Combat School mode which is equally challenging, if not more. After all, in the latter mode, you will need to undergo a wide array of missions with various objectives, ranging from assaulting bases to rescuing Prisoners of War. Perfect for those who want to kill a few minutes of time with short missions.

Controls

In a game like Metal Slug 7, sluggish and unresponsive controls are not an option. Nice to see the developers agree with that, and they have executed a near-perfect job with Metal Slug 7’s game controls. The D-pad will help you control your soldier of choice, while the buttons do their job well in dispatching of your enemies.

Graphics

We like the way the art style has been translated from the consoles to its handheld counterpart, where it looks as though you're playing a cartoon. The screen might be small, but you are still able to distinguish the commandos from one another. As for the enemies, they are also well animated with looks of surprise whenever you disarm them of their shields. Prisoners retain their signature bearded look, and when you jump into a myriad of vehicles, they are all well animated to say the least. In fact, we're pretty impressed that the DS is able to handle so many sprites simultaneously, although the action does slow down a tad when there are way too many bullets whizzing about on that particular screen.

Sound

Fast paced action music is what defines the sound in this title. It helps move the game along with its frenetic action without letting up, and complements the visuals perfectly.

Tips & Tricks

− Go slow the first time round, and don't get frustrated if you seem to be taken out by the same enemy. There is a pattern attached to the way enemies move and fire, so keep a keen eye out if you're unfamiliar.
− All bosses have a pattern or weak point, so make sure you seize the opportunity when it comes by.
− Take breaks if you seem to be stuck on a particular level – more often than not, you will come back and realize you can defeat the adversary easily. Works with most games, I guess.

Conclusion

You know what they say – you've played it once, you've played it all. We suppose the same can be said of the Metal Slug series, but to see nearly all the good points ported over to the DS is a testament to the game's enduring qualities, and it is a pity that there is no Wi-Fi support or co-op gameplay. Otherwise, this is a solid title that is worth picking up.

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Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics

They're faithful enough to the series, although it would be nice to see more variety in the background as the enemies seem to be holed up in some underground cave most of the time. Apart from that, expect the action to slow down whenever there are too many sprites on the display, but overall the developers have done a great job in conveying the feel of the game with well drawn sprites.

Sound

Functional enough to keep you going with its fast-paced background music. While the game won't be unplayable without its audio, it certainly adds a whole lot to the experience with the relevant sound effects including screams from enemies, the slashing of knives and huge explosions, Hollywood-style.

Fun Meter

Challenging enough with a few difficulty levels to choose from, and who doesn't like the feeling of being a real hero by decimating an entire army all by yourself? Of course, you will need great reflexes, a good memory and a keen eye for the pattern of various enemies in order to get through the game, and once you're done there is always the Combat School mode to complete (a century of challenges sound fun enough for you?), with a high score to beat, to boot.

Addictivity

Unless you're a perfectionist who wants to complete everything with the best score possible, most people will get through the campaign mode in a jiffy, while leaving the Combat School mode alone (or incomplete) after a while when something newer comes along. This would've scored a 5 in our books if they included co-op and Wi-Fi support.

Total Score= 3.75 Dragons, 75%



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