Metal Slug XX
Metal Slug XX offers an enjoyable experience that boasts some stellar multiplayer and a few nice new perks
As a gamer that regularly demands innovation from forthcoming IPs, I always feel like a bit of a hypocrite falling back into the familiar gun-toting embrace of SNK Playmore's Metal Slug franchise. Here's a series of games that's hardly altered so much as a pixel since its 1996 arcade cabinet debut and has maintained a substantial fanbase precisely because of it. While the core run-n-gun mechanics have remained largely unchanged since day one, its the off-the-wall humour, colourful characters, inventive weapons, and zany bosses that have earned Metal Slug a special place in the hearts of jaded arcade-dwellers everywhere.
- Stellar multiplayer, enhanced difficulty, great new audio
- Not enough new content, DLC character doesn't add much to the experience, loading times can be a pain
While it doesn't break the classic Metal Slug mould, nor does it truly push or innovative SNK Playmore's tried and true franchise, Metal Slug XX is an enjoyable experience that boasts some stellar multiplayer and a few nice new perks.
But even for a series as consistent as Slug, there's a limit to what can remain unchanged before gamers start feeling just a little bit cheated. Case in point: Metal Slug XX is, more or less, Metal Slug 7; a year-and-a-half old Nintendo DS title stretched to match the PSP's 16:9 widescreen display with a few balancing tweaks, sound effects, and hidden routes thrown in for good measure. Where the original Metal Slug X was essentially a port of Metal Slug 2, X still introduced a bevy of new weapons, vehicles, and enemies -- all of which are now series staples. Metal Slug XX doesn't share its predecessor's innovation, but not for lack of trying; while the swapped weapon spawns and POW positions certainly add some much needed variety into Slug's tired formula, much of Metal Slug XX's single-player mission doesn't bring any new content to the table. Combat School also makes a return from Metal Slug 7, and while it doesn't bring along any new missions or levels, it does offer a new rank to conquer. Again, it's nothing incredibly deep or innovative, but it's nice to have something to come back to after the 40-minute campaign draws to a close.
And then there's the multiplayer mode. See, this is where I'm torn; sure, it's basically the same game as the single-player, and many of my earlier complaints are still evident and entirely valid, but it's so much easier to let those critiques slide when you're blasting your way through Morden's army with a buddy at your side. If anything, Metal Slug XX's multiplayer just harkens back to the question of why Metal Slug 7 didn't feature any form of co-op play. XX's ad-hoc co-op works well, and I hardly experienced any lag, but there is the unfortunate fact that you'll need two copies of the game to play with a friend.
I can't really recommend Metal Slug XX if you're not already an established fan of the franchise, and in all honesty, I have a bit of trouble recommending it if you've already purchased Metal Slug 7. The stretched widescreen is sure to draw ire from fans of the DS iteration, and the five-to-seven second load screens in between areas can occasionally break the flow of the gameplay, but the excellent multiplayer alone is reason enough for investing in it my book. Metal Slug XX isn't the best installment in the long-running series, and it certainly isn't the worst, but it still offers up an enjoyable experience that's perfect in bite-sized blasts -- preferably with a well-armed partner-in-crime at your side.
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