The announcement of SNK bringing some of their most beloved franchises to the Xbox was a surprising one, especially since Sony denied them the rights of release in the U.S., and while some people think they wouldíve been better on the GameCube, they feel right at home on Xbox. Metal Slug, the pinnacle in 2D side scrolling shooters was the first to gain the right to be released on Xbox, and itís translated quite well. If SNKís future games work this well on Xbox, then King of Fighters has its work cut out for it. This is actually Metal Slug 3ís first appearance in the U.S., as itís only been in arcades before in the U.S. The decision to port MS3 over first is because itís generally considered to be the best of the series.
The story in Metal Slug 3 (as taken from the back of the box) is that the evil General Mordon has awakened and you must stop him, and that basically means kill everything that moves. You have a choice of four characters, who control the same and look similar, so the choice is purely personal cosmetic preference.
If you didnít know before, Iím sure you know by any pictures of this game that youíve seen, that Metal Slug 3 is an old school 2D side scrolling shooter, but a unique one at that. Like other shooters, you mainly go from left to right, killing whatever crosses your path and gaining powerups used to kill more things. The unique part of MS3 is in the execution, which is very well done. In Metal Slug 3, you are offered branching paths, hordes of varied enemies, many powerups and perhaps one of the best parts about it, vehicles. The gameplay is very varied for an old school game, and thatís quite impressive, as itís very hard to get bored with this game. The enemies as well, while containing the usual generic soldier contain much more variation than that. You traverse through many different diverse environments and the enemies found on their depend on such, the first beach level contains giant crabs, the second dark junkyard level contains zombies, while the third level is underwater. Metal Slug 3 offers some top notch gameplay with about as much variation as a 2D shooter can hold. There are five VERY difficult levels that can be conquered alone or cooperatively, which is the method that offers the most fun. You can have up to five lives, to complete a level, before you must start over, and one bullet will kill you, so being a smart gamer is required. Another great thing about MS3 is that is does not take itself too seriously, you gain powerups by freeing hippies, you can have thunderclouds and monkeys wearing diapers help you fight, collecting powerups such as chickens and cooked turkeys for points and you can even get fat by eating too much, all of these work towards MS3 and give it a strong advantage. You can even be turned into a zombie in one level, which gives you a power advantage, but compromises speed. This game is not for everyone, especially anyone whoís turned off by difficult games, but for those of you who can persevere, youíll find an immensely fun game awaiting you. Iíve played levels over many times, sometimes right after losing, and the fun never ceases, it may just be on hold for a while, if frustration takes over, but Metal Slug 3 is a great game, that plays great, and has clearly stood the test of time.
You canít expect this game to look on par with games like Halo or Riddick, but Metal Slug 3 looks great in its own way. The perfect way to the describe MS3ís graphics is stylish, because of the unique flair that they have. Everything is animated very well, and it makes the game just look that much better. The environments are extremely varied and each of them offer their own atmosphere, which makes playing different levels that much more varied. The characters animate well as their hair and bodies move as their move, and dying animations, especially as a zombie are great to see. All the small little touches is what sets Metal Slug 3 apart, when you get fat, and run or shoot, your cheeks move in the wind, thereís just so much to love about MS3. This game is eye candy for those who can appreciate it, due to the stylish and slick visual style of the game.
The audio in this game doesnít have the unique flair that the graphics do, but itís far from bad. There are the sound effects of bullets and screams when you get shot, the explosions, and the lightning strikes from the thunder cloud and noises from the monkey. The audio in this game does its best to set the mood and atmosphere, and the music does a fine job of helping that. In a sunny level, the music is more fast paced and upbeat, while in a dark, brooding level, the music switches to a slower, darker, more foreboding type of music. The audio, while not excellent, is definitely done well enough to suit and compliment the graphics style and the pace of the gameplay.
As an arcade game, you canít expect too many controls or anything complex, and thatís exactly what you get. You can move with either thumbstick or the dpad, and thereís a jump, shoot, and throw grenade button, thatís it. The controls work, although there are some things that are somewhat challenging, even in the arcade version. You cannot run and shoot diagonally, which is confusing as the arcade cabinet and the Xbox controller both are capable to shoot diagonally, although this definitely does add challenge to the game. The other problem I found when using submarines, was that the gun could not be aimed separately from the direction that you chose to move the submarine. In order to aim at enemies, you had to move the submarine around until the gun aimed at it, which definitely sucks when hordes of enemies ships are coming at you. Other than a few minor gripes, the controls work quite well, and their simplicity works for, not against them.
Left thumbstick, right thumbstick, dpad Ė Move/aim
A button Ė Jump
B button Ė Throw grenade
X button Ė Shoot
The replay value of this game all depends on what kind of gamer that you are. If you are someone who just likes to blaze through a game as fast as you can, then you will find Metal Slug 3 quite short. However for those who like to actually replay games, then youíll find quite a bit here. Not only will you have to replay the game quite a bit, due to the difficulty, but the levels are fun and challenging as well. Not only does the Xbox one contain the arcade version and mission select, but also two new modes, one is Fat Island, in which you play when your characters when theyíre fat and Storming the Mothership, which is a bonus mission that takes place in a spaceship. Unfortunately the Live tab on the box only supports Scoreboards and itís disappointing that online co-op was not included as it couldnít have been too hard to implement.
Xbox really needed this sort of game to diversify its lineup, an old school game for the hardcore fans. While Metal Slug 3 is a great game, being released alone for $40 was too much in my opinion. The game is old and thereís NO reason that a compilation couldnít have been done instead. Six Metal Slug games could easily fit on a DVD, and they couldíve just charged $50 for that, but I guess you canít capitalize on your sales like that. Metal Slug 4 & 5 are coming later, also for $40, and it makes me wonder why Metal Slug X wasnít included with 3, because MS3 & MSX are generally considered the best ones. Regardless of the prices, Metal Slug 3 is a great game, with unique gameplay, stylish graphics, and fitting audio. With only some minor grips about the controls, and a pretty good. Xbox Live Scoreboards are also supported for the competitive type, and this game is one of the best co-op games on Xbox currently. If youíre looking for a great and challenging game to play by yourself or with a friend, Metal Slug 3 should definitely be the near of the top of your list.
Gameplay - 8.8
Graphics - 8.5
Audio - 7.7
Controls - 7.6
Replay - 8.3
Overall - 8.1