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November 25, 2005
Metal Slug 4 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
27/10/2005QV SoftwareSNK/Ignition1-2MEasy
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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Time to use some bombs.
When you talk about classic side scrolling shoot 'em ups few would dispute the fact that SNK's Metal Slug games are among the, if not the, best of all time. The gameplay is frantic, the graphics spectacular (for their day at least) and the game rock hard. Rather then shelling out around $400 for the original Neo Geo carts PS2 owners can now play Metal Slug 4 for a fraction of the price with the game hitting the shelves for a measly $49.95.

Metal Slug 4's story is as follows. In the year 20XX, a cyber terrorist group attacked the world... They had developed what they called the "White Baby", a computer virus designed to hijack the main systems of the militaries of the world's nations. Their aim - to unleash it on the Internet. The cyber-terrorist group taking responsibility for the White Baby, which is said to be able to infect any security network is calling itself "Amadeus - The Lovers of God".

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Using the tank.
International anti-cyber terrorist groups held emergency meetings upon receiving that declaration and it was decided to beef-up all national military security systems and facilities and eradicate "Amadeus". To this end, the PF special forces were brought in to destroy the threat of Amadeus. Marco, Flo and the newly recruited Trevor and Nadia were subsequently sent into battle. Both Tarma and Erl had been dispatched to protect the staff developing the anti-virus for "White Baby".

Great story isn't it? Shame that that like most games from its era the story is little more then a few pages of filler for the manual and hardly even seen in the actual game. Upon starting the game you select from four characters including Marco and Fio as well as newcomers Trevor and Nadia. Ultimately, however, each of these characters play identically so the selection is cosmetic more then anything else. Set across six stages Metal Slug 4 sees you (mostly) running to the right of screen shooting everything in sight using a variety of weapons. While you start with the basic pistol you'll also be able to pick up machine guns, rocket launchers and even lasers. As a secondary weapon you have grenades at your disposal which are handy for taking out enemy vehicles and bosses. Now I did say you mostly run in the game because at times you can jump into vehicles, be it as a sidecar on a motorcycle, or a tank which is perfect to take out large numbers of enemies. While the game is great in single player those of you with a friend will be please to hear that the 2-player support is tremendous fun.

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Stunning 2D visuals.
In terms of the game the Metal Slug series has always been ultra hard, and this game is no exception. The reason for this is that it originated as an arcade title, and obviously they want you to keep pumping in the money. In order to make this more accessible to home gamers the developers have provided gamers with unlimited credits which, sadly, means the game can be completed in one sitting. I would have much preferred a restriction on the number of continues to say 5 or 10 making you work hard to complete the game. We also have to say that we are disappointed by the fact that this package only includes Metal Slug 4. Arguably a brilliant game, but the fact that American buyers also get Metal Slug 5 is a bit of a kick in the teeth and a blatant case of double dipping despite our slightly cheaper price. Also disappointing is the lack of extras in the package which given the pedigree of the series I would have expected something special in this regard. Nope.

I always come across the question; how do you rate the graphics in a retro package or game? That's a tough one. In their day the graphics were the best seen, and while artistically they are still brilliant there are now better 2D games on the market. Still, from an emulation standpoint this game is near perfect (and we should know, we had the Neo Geo version until very recently!).

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Enemies are well dug in here.
As with most older games the audio is fairly limited. Coming off arcade (or home) based ROM chips there's limited space and the resulting sound isn't anywhere near what we would expect today. Still, it has to be said that without a doubt this game is one of the best of its era with some wonderful music that will rattle around in your head for some time after you turn your system off. The effects is where the game struggles with muffled sounds and speech/screams. It would have been nice if the developers had included an option for remixed and/or improved sound as was the case with Capcom Classics Collection recently.

Ultimately the decision to buy Metal Slug 4 is tough. On the one hand it's only $49.95 so pretty cheap, but if you use unlimited continues you'll plough through the game in under an hour. This is 2D gaming at its best and at the very least you should check it out - even if only as a rental.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSRarely have 2D sprite games looked as good, this is a benchmark.
SOUNDComing off arcade ROMS the sound is rather limted, good music.
GAMEPLAYThis is where the game wins, one of the best side scrollers ever.
VALUEIt's only $49.95, but it's short due to the unlimted continues.
OVERALLMetal Slug 4 is and older game sure, but it represents the pinnacle of 2D side scrolling shooters. It's a shame the developers don't make a mega bundle with all six titles in the series rather then being drip fed, but it's a lot cheaper then the $AU400 or so the original Neo Geo versions sell for today!

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