Sunday, July 15, 2012

Metal Slug 3 [SNK Playmore] - $6.99

Bringing back old-school gaming to the iOS seems to be a fairly lucrative investment. If it wasn’t, I doubt we’d see companies do it over and over again. But this also benefit’s the players, if not just as much. We’re able to buy back memories from our youth for pennies on the dollar, and if you can deal with touch screen controls, it’s almost always worth it. This week, SNK took a second chance at releasing a Metal Slug title for the iOS, and after spending some time with it, this is THE ONE to get if you’re a fan of Run-n-Gun gameplay; Metal Slug 3. Originally released for the Neo-Geo back in 2000, and on the PS2, XBOX, XBLA, Wii, PSP, and PC since, this classic title has now hit the AppStore, and fans of the game, and series, have a lot to be happy about. No more Metal Slug Touch, no more tilt controls, no more vehicle-only gameplay, no more clunky controls, no more! Finally, iOS gamers have a faithful port of Metal Slug, and one of the best titles of the series at that. 

Metal Slug 3 happens to be the first Metal Slug that features branching paths in each stage, letting players choose different paths, each having different difficulties, enemies, guns, and amount of hostages. All of the paths lead to the same boss battle at the end of each stage, but which path you choose has a direct influence on your score, and in some cases, the challenge presented. There are 2 gameplay options, Single and Multiplayer, each having 4 different difficulties, Easy, Medium, Hard, and Very Hard, as well as your choice between Arcade and Mission Modes. Multiplayer is a co-op mode, and is only available through local Bluetooth, but it’s still a great feature if you have two devices, or a friend with an iDevice. Arcade and Mission Modes are the same, except that Mission Mode lets you select which of the 5 stages you’d like to play, with each stage being unlocked after you reach it in Arcade Mode. You’ll also have 4 different characters to choose from, two male, and two female.

The controls are surprisingly good. You’re given a joystick, and 3 buttons, and can be placed anywhere on the screen. The buttons are for jumping, shooting, and throwing grenades, and are nice, responsive, and tight. I’ve never run into a situation and blamed controls for an un-necessary death, which is pretty impressive, especially considering how hectic the gameplay gets. In the options menu, you’re also able to change the aspect ratio from 16:9 to 4:3, you can change the video filtering on or off, which either smoothes out the edges of everything, or gives you that great crisp pixel look, and you can also add scanlines to the game at either 50% or 100%, which adds to the old-school feeling. 

Like previous Metal Slug titles, there are quite a few vehicles which you’ll come across, most of which haven’t been seen in previous titles; the Slug Driller, Slug Mariner, Elephant Slug (which is one of my favorites), Ostrich Slug, Astro Slug (my definite favorite), and plenty more. You’ll also come across characters which, when freed, will help you out, providing some extra fire-power. Like, believe it or not, an UZI wielding Monkey. 

There are some issues with the game right now, but nothing that can’t be easily fixed in an update. The video settings are not saved when you exit the app, which means if you want scanlines, or the pixel look, you’ll have to change this every time you start the game up. Also, the controls do wind up covering the action sometimes. Hopefully with the video settings, a dead-zone will be able to be added, changing the video size to 80% or close to that, so that players fingers won’t cover up the action. This little issue however, is only noticeable on the iPod and iPhone. On the iPad, your fingers will pretty much never cover up any of the action. 

So, is Metal Slug 3 worth checking out? Most definitely. For $6.99, being Universal, including Bluetooth co-op, GameCenter integration with a world-wide leaderboard, and 30 achievements, great controls, awesome graphics, insanely addictive and entertaining gameplay. Yes, it’s a must buy, especially for fans of the genre who have been, well, at the very least, let down, by about 95% of the AppStore’s previous Run-n-Gun offerings. 


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