Ever since Neo-Geo released the popular Street Fighter in 1984, they’ve grown a reputation for sticking with the traditional 2d graphical appeal. Not only has the 2d tradition continually made Neo-Geo increasingly popular, the style of gameplay they continue to produce is also attractive. Many games are hitting graphical stages where using second dimensional seems unlogical. But Neo-Geo has used their technique to produce some beautiful artwork: both from a visual and gameplay aspect.
Back when Metal Slug was released for arcade vendors, it was considered one of the greatest games mainly because of it’s frantic gameplay. Soon after, Metal Slug 2 was released and was nothing short of a success either. Years later, and another Metal Slug to be added to the series, Metal Slug 3 is being ported onto the xbox for home-console users. In all respect, this decision was a respectable choice, but one problem persisted: Metal Slug 3 is intended to be beaten within a visit at the arcade. Making MS3 worth it’s price would be a problem without adding additional gameplay content.
The main attractions can be found in the Arcade Mission. If you’re new to the Metal Slug environment, understanding what is going on is nearly impossible without reading the game manual. The manual sums your situation up clearly and will help you throughout the missions with an in-depth gameplay explanation. Basically you’ll end up traveling through levels rescuing Prisoners of War and fighting bosses-- Rinse and Repeat. This concept sounds highly repetitive, but SNK manages to sneak in noticeable goodies.
Fanboys of previous Metal Slugs will instantly know that the gameplay hasn’t been touched. You’ll still be parading through levels filled with plenty of enemies for the taking, in a side-scrolling manor. Aiming is controlled with the directional pad, and firing is assigned to the X button. Moving is relatively simple, but it’s the aiming that was questionable. The layout on the X-Box controller complicates moving and aiming at the same time. To fully experience what Metal Slug 3 has to offer you’ll need to posses a game-pad instead of a controller.
Prisoners of War are tied up and it’s your duty to release them from certain death. Rescuing POW’s will award you with either guns, ammunition, health, or points. Starting in every level you’ll be stranded with a pee shooter, but weapons will be replenished for the taking. Weapons differentiate by size, damage and reloading time. Also, while traveling many vehicles will become accessible. Each vehicle has it’s own traits such as the Slug Copter. The Slug Copter can fly, and maneuver enemies easily, while at the same time fire missiles to ward off enemies.
Progressing through levels can become strenuous thanks to the superficial AI the enemy has. Even on the easiest of settings, the enemy can put of a strong resistance. Enemies come in waves and pack powerful punches. Many opposing forces will be on the screen at once producing massive battles that are indeed topnotch. If you play with a teammate, getting lost on the screen is very possible due to all the carnage.
As I mentioned previously in the review, I’m a major fan of SNK’s artistic abilities. The way SNK uses the old-style graphics to resurrect many enjoyed hours playing SNES is marvelous. Depending on how you look at Metal Slug 3, the graphics can be enjoyable or down right degrading. Then again, Metal Slug 3 strongly approaches previous fans of the series. Every graphical aspect is rendered 2D. So, special effects are very limited, but explosions, gun shots, and environments are well modeled. Enemies are uniquely modeled to resembled disfigured creations. Opposing forces range from zombies, machines, insects, human, and many more. The variety of these are great and only add to the graphic’s score.
As far as Sound Effects go, multiple explosions wreaking havoc at the same, while trying to save your ass, is pleasing to the ear. All Audio is still redone in the eight bit ages and is easily noticeable. Voice overs aren’t found, as characters just murmur randomly thrown phrases. The background music isn’t the best but it suites this games appearance well.
Apart from Metal Slug 3's extreme difficulty and short storyline, I found everything was well-placed together. To strengthen MS3's game time, extra features were added such as Fat Island, where the point of the game is to fatten your player by guzzling pounds of food. The outrageous difficulty setting will surely displease many buyers if you haven’t ever played this game. Metal Slug 3 proves thinking ahead is futile in some circumstances.