There’s Light at the End of the Carpal Tunnel
Metal Slug 3, the sequel to # 2, was originally released in 2000. It’s probably the best Metal Slug game out there, not only because it’s more polished and detailed but also because of its innovation. The series went from WWII cartoonish fights to a more edgy warfare setting, letting in new and modern combatants. However, it never lost its awesome cartoonish feel; in fact, it’s even more accentuated in the third title with beautifully detailed graphics and funny elements that will make you laugh out loud. The game has gone through multiple gaming platforms and even a few facelifts before it made it to the Xbox 360’s Xbox Live Arcade.
Keep in mind the game was created for an arcade. As such, it features fun and frenzy, side-scrolling shooting-action that requires lots of button-mashing and incredible skill and reflexes to avoid the constant rain of bullets. Pushing buttons repeatedly to shoot is typical for this kind of game; if you don’t mind the pain afterwards, you’ll like Metal Slug 3. I have to admit it’s an easy way to end up with carpal tunnel syndrome, so you might want to take breaks in between levels. However, who can resist and not play? Every old-school-gaming fan should play the game. Just like the arcade, you can play this game alone or with someone else. It’s one of the best co-op games I’ve ever played, and the fact that the game is old doesn’t change anything. If you don’t check out the “Settings” menu, you’ll find yourself mad and frustrated, ranting about how impossible it is to beat the game with just five credits. The game is tough and it’s not like the 360 will let you pump in the quarters! (At least not that way…) Luckily, there’s the Free Play option that lets you have as many “Continues” as you want so you can beat the game and be happy.
Free Play Vs. “Game Over – Start from the beginning because you run out of credits” is one of the advantages of playing this game on the Xbox 360. Who knows how many quarters you’d spend if you were playing on the arcade! Also, the game has been “remastered” to shine on an HD display, and it hides the pixilated feel you might have found in the original. Obtaining Achievement Points is another plus, although it’s difficult to obtain achievements that require beating the levels without using one of the “Continues!” There’s also online play: you can play with another friend who’s far away using his/her own console, or even go for a co-op ride with someone you don’t know; the leaderboards will let you see who ranks amongst the best. Other than that, the game is pretty much the same as it was on the Arcade, the PS2, the Wii, and the original Xbox.
One of the best things Metal Slug 3 has to offer is the character pipeline, not only the four characters you can choose from, but also the numerous amount of enemies you’ll encounter depending on the paths you take. At first you’ll fight the classic hordes of crazy soldiers found in previous installments, but later more wacky enemies will join the team – gooey aliens, sick zombies, hungry piranhas, suicidal Middle-Easterners, and more! They’ll surprise you with funny stuff like running away in their underwear, puking on you, and other various things like that. Other times your own character will suffer transformations, like when you eat too much and become a badass fatty, or when the zombies throw orange glop at you and turn you into a “shoe-dragging” zombie. And guess what you do as a zombie instead of launching grenades? You’ll puke all over your enemy and kill it with ease; it works like a charm…
The level design is great. In addition to the classic side-scrolling action, there are a few parts of the game where you’ll be swimming underwater or even shooting down Martians in the outer space, Galaga-style. Even though there are only five levels, you can always choose different paths that will lead you to new environments, enemies, and slugs. Wait, you don’t know what slugs are? They’re vehicles you’ll find throughout the game. They give you extra protection and your attacks become much more powerful when you’re in one of them!
When you’re on foot you’ll be shooting with standard guns or throwing bombs. When you’re inside a slug, the attacks will vary depending on which vehicle you’re in. Of course the slugs eventually blow up, but you can make them last a while by avoiding bullets and picking up some extra gas. Of course, don’t underestimate the normal, on-foot attacks, because picking up power-ups is sweet and fun. There’s everything, from shotguns to lasers, rocket launchers, and machineguns, and you’ll get to test it all. I couldn’t decide on a favorite, although the heavy machinegun is great because it has unlimited ammo as long as you stay alive. I also love how it sounds when the announcer yells, “Heavy Machinegun!!!”
The sounds of the game are something to be proud of, indeed. Not only are the tunes cool and action-packed but the sound effects are also really nice and suitable for this arcade gem. The voice over is funny and reminds you of the good old times at the arcade; I recall playing this with my dad and repeating “Flame Shot!”, “Enemy Chaser!”, “Rocket Launcher!,” and especially: “Machinegun!.” The characters’ dying squeals are funny too, not to be insensitive or anything – after all it’s just a cartoonish game.
The game managed to remain appealing on the arcade and should satisfy those who enjoy Metal Slug games. You’ll get to play this one with a push of a button without even having to stand up and pop in the disc. However, it’s still $10, which might be steep for some. They should have probably made it cheaper, taking into consideration all the new games joining the XBL Arcade library with much more in-depth gameplay and next-gen graphics. In conclusion, if you don’t mind the price and like old-school side-scrolling shooters, you’ll have a blast!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.5 Graphics
Shinny, smooth, and in HD! Too bad they got rid of the blood from the original. 4.0 Control
You know what you’re coming for: button-mash ’til you’re dead! Couldn’t be easier…it just hurts. 4.3 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Epic Metal Slug soundtrack. It’s nice how it changes throughout the levels depending on the environments. The sound effects and the voice over are also phenomenal yet simple. 3.0 Play Value
The game is fun although it’s the same as always. It only has five levels and you’ll finish it in a flash. The question is… will you play it again? 3.9 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.