Monday 22 December 2014

Metal Slug X Review (Playstation)

Containing just about the shortest plot in videogame history, Metal Slug X sends the player on a mission to eliminate an individual who is causing a lot of upheaval in the world. Rumours suggesting the plot was written on the bus by an SNK employee on their way to work remain unconfirmed, but then the Metal Slug series has never been about epic plot-lines. Indeed, shooting things is all that matters in this title - a lot of things - and it makes a nice change to see a game concentrating on the action rather than some pointless plot that nobody cares about anyway.

For those unaware, the Metal Slug series follows the tradition of classic side-scrolling shoot 'em up action. One or two players are directed across screen blasting absolutely everything in sight, devouring power-ups and rescuing the odd hostage who is (conveniently) scattered about the levels.

Metal Slug X is set across six stages of high-octane bliss, and even though you are granted unlimited continues, the blasting never gets old for anyone starved of mindless destruction. What truly places the series apart from others in the genre is the absolutely astounding artwork and character direction. Each of the six central stages is a smorgasbord of detail, with lashings of colour and digestible moments. Indeed it truly is one of the most sumptuous-looking 2D shoot 'em ups ever to exist. As well as the terrific backdrops, all the enemies and characters in the game are coated with equal dollops of care with small touches such as soldiers laughing when they kill you, only to then almost jump out of their skins when you reappear with your next credit - sometimes even legging it into the distance.

Boss battles are something to marvel at as well, with each new mechanical monstrosity being both bizarre and intimidating at the same time and it is clear so much thought has gone into every detail that you can only marvel at the end result. Coupled with the graphical excess are some of the best sound effects the PSone has to offer. At all times the sheer amount of explosions and gunfire plays out to a fever pitch of excitement and, when you throw in the screams of soldiers who have been shot with some obligatory arcade-style speech samples, you find yet another level of depth added to this otherwise 2D experience.

Your characters are controllable to the Nth Degree and move about at a fair notch, which at least gives you half a chance of avoiding all the incoming fire. While superficially the nuts 'n bolts of gameplay are hardly revolutionary, they do fill the requirements which means you can shoot and jump, throw bombs, and use a number of different vehicles to despatch your foe. Simple, but very effective.

Furthermore, to top off this excellent feast of graphics, sound and controls, stage layout is dramatic and different all the way through - containing enough new features and small touches of brilliance to keep players occupied at all times. Given the unlimited continues it's fairly certain you will complete the game each time you play it, but everything seems so full-on and engaging that you'll want to return for the sheer chaos. (once completed a number of extra missions do become available, and while most only consist of simple tasks - such as staying alive for as long as possible or seeing how long you can protect a baby from marauding aliens - they do serve to spike interest, as players aim for those ever-increasing high scores.)

Overall, Metal Slug X takes its place on the Throne of Unmissable Experiences. We have no reservation in saying that if you own a PSone this is the best thing that has happened to it in years. A masterclass in the way that all action games should be made, grab yourselves a copy and get blasting.

Overall 9/10

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