Metal Slug has always had a long and glorious history when it comes to blowing very big things up. The recent Metal Slug Anthology on the Wii and PS2 let many gamers experience the chaotic destruction for the first time. Now we have a brand new title hitting the Nintendo DS. Of course, it hasn't been all roses over the years. Many will feel that the games which followed Metal slug 3 lost their ability to create the adrenaline pumping experience the series was renowned for.
The games chronicle the fight between our elite infiltration squad heroes and the armies of General Morden. After many years of war and with the world slowly recovering, a documentary looking at global refuse problems seems to show a Morden soldier in the background. The team is reassembled and quickly head off to the refuse island to take down Morden's secret hideout.
With a reputation for filling the screen with enemies, rockets and bullets it may seem odd that the new title finds itself on a handheld system. However, many games of its type, such as the awesome Bangai-O Spirits, have thrived on handhelds over the years. Metal Slug also has a handheld pedigree with one GBA and two good Neo Geo Pocket games being released a good few years back.
Despite all this, we still had trepidations when we began to lay waste to the General's army. We are happy to say that most of our fears were completely unfounded. The title may not have the small touches and humour that are so prevalent in the other versions of the series but there is enough here to show this is still a Metal Slug game.
The pace and ferocity of the combat hasn't changed much either. There are still loads of enemies and huge vehicles on the screen and apart from the occasional, very small, piece of slowdown it all runs as smoothly as can be. Everything else seems suitable Metal Slug as well.
The characters and vehicles have the right weightiness to them and all the weapons have the series trademark impact. Sound is also just right with all the samples of soldiers screaming, weapons blasting and muffled calls of "heavy machine gun" we have come to love over the years.
While it does work very hard at trying to recapture the feel of the classic Metal Slug titles there are also a number of new features that have been thrown into the mix. The six playable characters are now more different from each other than ever before with each one having strengths, weaknesses and a unique special attack. The most interesting of these is Clark's Super Argentine Back Breaker; a throw move which can be chained together to achieve massive scores.
Overall, Metal slug 7 marks a steady return to form for the series. The new slugs work well, the level design is decent and most of the bosses are inventive and suitably monstrous. It never quite reaches the heights of the best games in the series, but it’s so far ahead of the bad ones that you wonde how on earth Metal Slug 4 could ever have been created by the talent at SNK. It may not be a game for the feint of heart but fans should love it and anyone who wants a solid run 'n' gun titles to play on the bus can't really go wrong.