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October 18 2017

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  Metal Slug 5 - ©Playmore 2003 (Page 2)
Sound

The first thing I will say about this area of the game is that the sound effects are once again exactly what we have come to expect from this series. There are a few new sound effects but all the screams from the enemy soldiers etc are still the same as they were before. This isn't too much of a problem though as they were good anyway. It's a teensy bit annoying to have 90% of the same sound effects, but I suppose the saying "if it aint broke..." applies here. I have noticed some glitches in the audio though, like some distortion at times, I don't know why SNKP don't do more testing and eliminate these types of glitches from their games before release...

Now that's out of the way, it's time to talk about the music... and how would I describe it? Two words: Friggin awesome! Noise Factory's Studio Aqua are back again, and once more they have proven that they employ some of the best composers in the business and have now cemented themselves as one of my favourite companies when it comes to making great game music. I thought they did a good job with Metal Slug 4 (it was in fact my favourite part of that game), but they did an even better job here! The music is mostly rock stuff with some great guitar riffs, and it's a lot heavier than anything we have heard in an MS game before; it totally moves away from the style of the past games. It might not be quite to everyone's taste, but as far as I am concerned it is perfectly matched to the on-screen action, and really compliments the more hi-tech look of the game. Truly great!

Here are a few samples of the music that I made for your listening pleasure in MP3 format. Listen and enjoy:

Stage 2 Music Sample - MP3 Format, 55 Seconds, 537k
Stage 5 Music Sample - MP3 Format, 51 Seconds, 527k

The stage 2 music sample shows some slightly slower paced music that has a bit of a western theme going on, while the stage 5 music is a lot more upbeat. Both are superb and just a small taste of the music in the game, as many stages have different music in each area. I don't think there is a single part that I don't like in fact, and they even managed a couple of remixes of classic Metal Slug stuff (like the mission complete music), which is very cool. Overall I have to say that this is one of my favourite soundtracks in any Neo Geo game, which means it has to be very special indeed.

I went out and purchased the Matrimelee soundtrack (also by Noise) because I liked it so much, and the same will apply when/if they release the OST for this game!


Stages

Here is a list of the five stages and bosses in the game, along with screenshots and some basic tactics to use in getting past them. If you have not played the game before you would probably be best to skip this section so you don't spoil the surprise. I won't go in depth about EVERY route through the game though, as there are far too many to mention here. For more detailed coverage, check out one of the FAQ's (see below).

Stage 1



The game opens up with a rather easy section where you are on a raft and making your way towards some kind of temple. Make sure you shoot at the POW's that you see to free them and grab the stuff they drop (the first one should give you a heavy machine gun). Enemy troops will jump down at you during the first part of this section - make sure they don't get too close, otherwise they will stab you. You will eventually reach a place where you can jump down onto another raft, and after jumping down an enemy helicopter will swoop down... destroy it to get yourself an enemy chaser.

You'll now have to deal with some enemy hovercrafts, but 2 shots from the enemy chaser is enough to deal with these; just try not to let them fire their missiles at you. Destroy the barrier that blocks your way after you are done with the hovercrafts... it's now time to shoot some tribesmen. Provided you conserved some of your enemy chaser ammo you should be able to deal with them nice and easy. Now it's time to head into the temple itself.

For the initial part of the temple there are some more tribesmen to kill as well as a few purple slug type creatures. The main thing to watch out for here is the spiked ceiling: every now and then it comes crashing down so you need to duck down out the way of it. There are also a number of obstacles that you will need to slide under. In the next area, rescue the POW, grab the dual machine gun that he drops and clear out the screen, but take care not to get toasted by the flames that periodically shoot out in certain places. You'll now be given your first choice of path to take. Take the lower route if you want to use the new Slug Gunner, or the higher route if you would prefer the opportunity to eat a lot of food and go into BIG mode, as well as to use the standard Slug Tank!

The upper route actually leads you almost directly to the boss, while the lower route is much harder and presents you with another alternate route. When you get to part where the path leads upwards to a tied up POW (and the music stops), instead of going to the right, head back to the left where you will find some tribesmen and army guys fighting a mysterious tank. Take them out and deal with the tank itself; this is quite a tough fight, especially if you have already lost the Slug Gunner. If you still have it then you should be ok, just be sure to unload as much ammo as possible before it gets the chance to hurt you. Once it is finished there will be another very short section you have to fight through before reaching the final boss.

Stage 1 Boss: Giant Red Tank



This is quite a cool boss, but very easily defeated provided you are careful. If you took the upper route earlier on you may even still have the Slug Tank when you get here (it's not possible to bring the Slug Gunner however). This boss has three modes of attack; it fires flame shots, multiple gun turret shots at different trajectories, and occasionally it will lean backwards and come crashing back down, crushing you if you don't get out of the way.

Just stay at the left side of the screen and keep firing/throwing grenades. Move out of the way of the flame shots and jump through the gun turret rounds (or maybe even slide if need be). Every now and then a POW will come past and give you a new weapon (usually a rocket launcher or grenades), and these will help you finish this large enemy tank off in no time at all.

Stage 2



After watching the short cut scene after stage 1, it's time to hit the second stage. Start off by staying on the top level as you will be able to rescue a hostage and get some other bonuses. When you reach the wooden bridges, don't hang around on them for too long as some enemy craft come past and blow them up (unfortunately you can't destroy these craft). When you reach a wooden bridge at the bottom of the screen, look to the right and you'll see a couple of boxes... there are enemy soldiers underneath these who will shoot at you - the best thing to do here is to throw a grenade to get the one on the bottom and then run underneath the higher one and shoot him, along with the other soldiers that get in your way. By this point you will have gone into fat mode if you picked up enough food along the way.

Right after this you will see the Slug Tank in front of you and a box up above. Run a little way in front of the box and then shoot it, as it will release a little rat who runs across the floor very fast; if you are not in front of the box when you shoot it you won't be able to collect it to get a points bonus. As you travel along for the rest of this section in the tank, make sure not to fall down the holes, or to hang around on the wooden bridges for too long because otherwise they will get blown away and you'll fall to a grisly demise. Use the Tanks cannon to get rid of the trucks that block your way if need be... don't worry about conserving the tanks ammo as you won't be in the tank for much longer. You'll soon reach the entrance to some sort of factory complex. Unfortunately you can't take your vehicle inside.

At the start of the factory you can grab a heavy machine gun. Right after this you'll come up against two enemy tanks: one on the bottom of the screen, one on the top. Take out the one on the bottom quickly (don't get run over by it) by throwing a few grenades and firing your machine gun, then aim up and take out the top one (be careful of the shots it fires off). The next scene has you traveling downwards on an elevator where you will come under attack by swarms of red turtle-like machinery that fire laser beams. You will have picked up a shotgun so these are pretty easy to deal with, just look out for when their green eyes start glowing blue as that means they are about to shoot.

The rest of the stage is pretty standard stuff, just follow the set path it takes you on as there are no alternate routes here. Look out for the enemy hovercraft type vehicles that an enemy lieutenant occasionally waves onto the screen though (they fire big missiles at you), and be careful when you reach the set of stairs where the special ops guys try to jump you and stab you with their knife. The final part of stage 2 sees you fighting a few enemy troops and more of the aforementioned hovercrafts. Just stay on the right hand side of the screen and keep firing up at them, and hopefully you won't get hit by any of their missiles. It's now time to jump into the Plane Slug and take out the boss!

Stage 2 Boss: Enemy Jet



This boss is a tiny bit harder than the first boss, but still not too difficult. It has a number of different attacks; first off it will fly behind you and either fire a bunch of Vulcan shots into the air that come back at you from the right of the screen, or its two massive double-cannons will fire lots of big shots around the screen which are tougher to dodge. After doing one of these attacks it will swoop round and attack from in front of you. Whenb in front it will start by shooting a number of projectiles at you that you can shoot down... if you don't manage to shoot some of them they will get sucked back towards you, so take care. During this attack, one of the projectiles will always be blue, and this one will reveal a heavy machine gun if you shoot it. After this its engines will power up and unleash a stream of flames that you need to stay in between... keep your wits about you as the Jet will randomly move up or down the screen and you will need to make sure you don't get caught out.

The best tactic is to not worry about being too tactical and just keep your finger on the trigger constantly and not stop firing until you have blown this damn thing out of the sky (even if that is obvious advice). Use up all of the missiles that the plane carries, and don't worry too much if you get hit once or twice as the Slug Plane gives you a little bit of protection. If you do get it destroyed, you will just eject out and should hopefully have a heavy machine gun to finish the boss off with, as well as some homing missiles. When you are done, the boss will fly off the screen in a trail of green smoke.

Stage 3



This is one of my personal favourite stages in the game. The special forces guys are predominant for most of this stage, and there are also quite a lot of enemy mechas too. At the start of the stage you catch a brief glimpse of a masked guy, who is most likely the same tribesman who you saw picking up the mask in the cut scene after stage 1.

Near the start of the stage there is a part where there are some boxes in the middle of the screen and you are getting attacked from both sides by special ops guys who throw a lot of grenades to try and catch you out. The best thing to do is to stay at the far right of the screen and keep jumping up and firing every time you get the chance to hit one of the enemies on the left hand side. As the enemies come swarming in from the right you will most likely stab them, so you don't need to worry about them hurting you, and you don't need to worry about the grenades from the guys on the other side as they shouldn't reach you.

After this you will reach a truck... now, you have a choice to make. If you want to take an alternate route, don't blow up the truck - jump on top of it and use it as a platform to reach the ventilation shaft at the top of the screen. Jump into that and it will lead you to a section where you are on the outside of the building and on a window cleaning lift (it takes longer but you can probably score more points this way). Otherwise, blow the truck up and carry on to the right. It's now time to take control of the Slug Gunner, which you will find at the beginning of the next area. The best thing to do around here is to stay ducking down in this vehicle so it stays in tank mode. This will enable you to quickly run over any enemies on foot and you can easily take out anything else with the powerful gun turret or cannon.

In the next area you will need to make your way upwards by taking a couple of elevators and also jumping between platforms. The soldiers and special ops guys are easily taken care of whether you are on foot or if you still have the Slug Gunner (hopefully you do), but there are also a LOT of enemy mechas around here. One thing to remember with the mechas is that they can be taken out very quickly with a grenade or Slug Gunner cannon round, and that they also have a weak spot: if you stand just behind them they can't hit you, so use this to your advantage. If you are in the vehicle, jump across the platforms by tapping B once and then pressing it again and holding it down to engage the vehicles jet pack which will make you float across the gap (when you jump normally this vehicle comes down quick due to its weight).

After taking a couple of elevators you'll come to a bit where there's a couple of steps and a mecha sitting on top of them firing at you. Stay ducking down to avoid its fire and shoot a couple of cannon rounds. They might not hit the mecha directly but the splash damage from them will; 2 cannon rounds should do the trick. You will now be more or less at the end, but there's a few more mechas to destroy and some suit wearing POW's that you can rescue for a points bonus. You should hopefully pick up a double machine gun around here, and if you still have the Slug Mecha you will be able to conserve its ammo for the boss, which will make things much simpler.

Stage 3 Boss: Wall Crawler



This is one of my favourite bosses, although it's not terribly hard to beat. It crawls up on the outside of the building and will move up and down. When it is high up and on the same level as you it attacks by firing 3 large missiles at different heights that you will need to either duck or jump over. When it moves lower down the screen it either fires some homing missiles that you can shoot down or avoid or a guy will come out of the top and beckon some soldiers to come on the screen and attack you. Occasionally it will fire a massive ray that warps the screen and causes the platform that you are on to crumble.

Keep shooting at it when it's high enough for you to be able to hit it, and throw whatever grenades you have left when it is lower than you. Its attacks are not difficult to avoid really, so you shouldn't have too many problems in beating it.

Stage 4



Stage 4 is probably my least favourite, although it is still good. It starts off in what looks to be a military installation. At the start of the stage you will face an onslaught of motorcycle riding soldiers who jump off their bike and send it somersaulting through the air towards you. In this area there are a couple of spotlights in the middle of the screen; shoot at them to reveal a heavy machine gun and a point's bonus. After you walk up some steps and destroy a tank, look out for the hostage who is dangling from the top of the screen - shoot him down and he'll accompany you for a bit... yep, that's right, it's the fireball guy! ;-)

A tricky part comes next. You will be surrounded by soldiers with shields on the left and right and a couple of guys at the top who throw grenades. A lone helicopter comes down and while you attempt to shoot it down make sure you don't get too close to the shield guys or they will stab you. When you blow up the first helicopter it will give you a rocket launcher, but make sure you don't blow up the helicopter too close to the edge of the screen or the rocket launcher will get stuck on one of the higher platforms. Take care of the next two helicopters, grab the Iron Lizard the second one drops, kill any remaining soldiers and then be on your way.

Now it's time for a bit of marine action in the submarine! This is quite a difficult area where you have to fight off enemy divers, nuclear subs, mines and also some squids and electric jellyfish. The jellyfish are probably the hardest part because when you shoot the bigger ones they split up into four smaller ones. The best thing to do is to stay as far way as possible and keep firing, but be careful when you are in the narrow passageway that you come to as they will attack from both sides... speed in destroying them is the key here. After this part there are some swarms of jellyfish that can't be killed - shoot them once to stop them moving and then swim past them. All that is left now in this section are some divers, squids (you can just avoid them until they swim off screen) and a few more nuclear subs.

Once you are back out of the water you'll find yourself inside a tunnel filled with enemy mechas, soldiers and more. Nothing particularly difficult here, but when you reach the large room with some POW's at the top of the screen you'll get ambushed by soldiers and special ops guys. After you get out of here you will suddenly find yourself in the desert... is that a rumbling noise I hear??? Seems like there is something beneath us!!!

Stage 4 Boss: Desert Sub



This sub rises up out of the sand beneath you, and is probably the cheapest boss in the game. If you stay standing on top of it relies solely on one attack, where it fires flame shots up into the air that slowly float back down the screen. These can be difficult to dodge as there are so many of them, but it is made worse by the fact that the tank moves about below you which sometimes makes you move right into them. There is only a small amount of room to move around in too, and you can get trapped in between two barriers that are sticking up on the sub, so be careful nto get stuck next to them as this will most likely result in death. If you want you can jump off the sub to the left or right. Jumping off the left will result in the sub shooting projectiles from its cannon which are very hard to avoid, and jumping off the left will make the sub shoot out projectiles that slowly move towards you, but fizzle out after so long.

This one is a bit hit and miss... sometimes I get by it without dying at all, sometimes I get killed three or four times before I get past it. Like I said just take care not to get caught out when the sub moves to the left or right, as that it what usually ends up getting me killed.

Final Stage



At the beginning of this stage you will go for a little ride in the Slug Car! You can move the car left and right and make it jump, and its gun turret can fire in any direction, so use it to take out the big missiles that come onto the screen, or press C to fire some of your missiles if you need to. There are a number of times when you will need to jump gaps in the road, and these can be hazardous if there are missiles still floating around as you could end up jumping into them. If the worst comes to the worst then you are best to take a little damage as it is better than falling down a hole and losing a life straight off. Later on during the car ride you will be attacked by some enemy planes and a helicopter.

After you get out of the car you will find yourself outside the subway. Before you proceed down the steps, shoot the traffic lights as this reveals a bonus, and then shoot the market stall for some more. When you run down into the subway chuck a grenade at the two guys behind the sandbags and then quickly run past the guys on the rail track at the bottom and jump up and shoot them as you pass, before they get a chance to hit you with their missile launchers. Now take out anyone else remaining and drop down onto the track.

You will come face to face with a few of the masked guys here - these guys will fall over after being shot down once, and then get back up again; it takes a couple of shots to actually kill them. Now, you have the choice of either jumping into the Spider Slug for a brief ride, or running along on foot, where you will find some big versions of various weapons... namely theshotgun, rocket launcher and the laser. They are cool weapons but you really are best to stay in the Spider Slug as there are a LOT of dangerous bad guys and vehicles in this area.

After getting back outside there will be a group of mechas to deal with. Dispatch them and move forward - when you reach a ledge with a lieutenant standing on it, DON'T jump up straight away as some motorbike riders will drive off there... shoot them as they come onto the screen and then jump up. You can find a shotgun inside the building, and when you come back out of it you will need to use it on a group of the lieutenant guys... they normally take a lot of shots to kill, but the shotgun gets rid of them with ease (as per usual). Head forwards until you get back inside again. This is the penultimate area of the game.

At the start of this area there are two smartly dressed POW's who offer you a choice of the dual machine gun or the super grenade launcher. I say take the grenade launcher as it will help you defeat the many masked men and mechas that are around here with only one shot (just use the shots sparingly as you don't get many and it is a very powerful weapon). You need to make your way upwards here, and once you reach the top you'll head out through an exit and be outside again.

Jump between the pillars and you'll get to the stage 5 sub-boss. It has two pieces of machinery on either side with two things that swing down and fire laser beams. Make sure you don't get hit by them and just keep firing up at the control part of the machinery where you can see two masked guys sitting. You'll also need to fend off a number of purple slugs that fall onto the screen. After you have almost destroyed the swinging parts, they will stop firing and will just swing faster and try to hit you... avoid that attack and keep firing.

When both are gone an elevator will come down. Jump on it to go to the final boss.

Final Stage Boss: Flying Demon



Due to the almost total lack of storyline, this boss is never quite explained and is often the subject of a lot of hate from Metal Slug fans. I don't think the final boss is all that bad, but it probably would've been better as a sub-boss instead of the actual last boss of the game... or it should have at least been explained properly and given some more attacks to make it more interesting. It's a massive winged demon, and I assume that it was summoned by the tribesmen who put the mask on at the end of stage 1, but we never really get told the truth unfortunately.

Anyway, this is a tough boss to beat without dying, but it isn't impossible like many people seem to think, it just takes good timing. It basically has two attacks; the first one is where a lot of blue energy balls come crashing down from the top of the screen, and the second is where the demon flies up and then swoops back down smashing its scythe into the floor.

Take every opportunity you get to fire at the skull that is on the demons chest and throw grenades whenever you have them. During the attack with the energy balls, you need to stay in one spot and just slide left or right to get out of the way of each wave of attacks. Try to stay somewhere close to the far left or right of the screen, and when it unleashes a mass of energy balls, all you need to do is this: slide away from the edge of the screen just before you get hit by the first wave, wait for a split second and then slide again to miss the next lot. Keep doing this until they are all gone. Sometimes if you reach the edge of the screen while sliding you might need to jump over the last few attacks. The reason I said stay close to one side of the screen during the first few attacks is that when you are sliding away from the last big wave, if you get caught at the edge too quickly you WILL die.

After this attack is over the demon will have disappeared, and after a few seconds you will see it in the background getting ready to attack again. Stand at the far right of the screen and as soon as you see wind blowing around the spot you are standing on, run to the other side of the screen. You will see the attack hit that spot and some blue steam will rise up off the floor - if this hits you you'll die so stay well away from it. After this the demon will rise up again and it's back to square one. Just repeat the process until it is dead... you'll probably lose a lot of lives the first few times you get here. Practice makes perfect, and even I have managed to beat it without dying a couple of times... and I suck ;-)

It's now time to watch some rather uninspiring end credits; there is no kind of ending at all, which is a shame. "MISSION ALL OVER", perhaps for the last time on the Neo Geo?


Overall

Like its predecessor, Metal Slug 5 is a particularly hard game to review. It tries hard to impress and succeeds in many areas, but on the other hand it comes up short in others, especially with regard to the almost completely absent alternate routes and the subsequent lack of replay value. When I first began to play it I was very impressed and it was a total blast to complete it for the first few times. I began to think that it could turn into one of my favourite games in the series, but after I had put a few hours into it I began to notice the things that are wrong with it.

The biggest shame with all of this is that SNKP didn't really need to do that much more to turn it into a truly great game. It also seems like they ditched a lot of ideas that they had, because there's a lot of code and graphics still stored in the carts data that people have found by examining the ROM dumps of the game. There is an unused boss which resembles a giant turtle among others, so why SNKP decided not to use it is anyone's guess. I can also remember seeing advanced screenshots of the game months before its release that showed stuff that didn't make it into the final game. What happened during Metal Slug 5's development cycle is a complete mystery, but as I said earlier on in the review I suppose it was probably down to time constraints or something similar.


Neither of the above made it into the final game but are still in the games code... oddly enough.

Thanks to Setsuna1982 for the pics.


Regardless of what happened, the game should not have been released in this kind of incomplete state in my opinion. If they had spent some extra time implementing another stage or two and at least one hidden route in each one as well as a better final boss, it would have helped immensely. The things that are present are all good, but it is over far too quickly and even the most ardent Slug fans may find themselves getting tired of the game more quickly than they did with earlier entries into the series. Although it's a much higher quality game than MS4, the ironic thing is that if they were to mix the good elements of MS4 (there were a few) with the great new elements of MS5, they would be onto a winner. I never thought I'd hear myself say that...

So, where next for the series? At the time of writing development of SNK titles is to switch to the Atomiswave hardware made by Sammy, the company responsible for the Guilty Gear games amongst others. Although I still find the current graphics impressive enough in their own way, moving to Atomiswave will hopefully pave the way for a major graphical upgrade, but I hope that they don't mess up the game play. Moving to new hardware might enable them to improve game play in fact, so it could be a great thing.

Whatever hardware the next game is on, there are a lot of things that I would like to see added to the next game in the series, which would make it even more enjoyable and give you more of a reason to go back and play it again and again. First off, ever since MS2 came out and added a character select, I've always loved the idea of making all the characters play slightly differently. By this I mean giving them different skills and attributes; for instance, each character could have the opportunity to use weapons that the others can't, and some might be faster or more powerful etc. This wouldn't be anything that we haven't seen in other similar games, but it would definitely add a whole new dimension to the game play.

They could even go one step further and introduce a system whereby you could tag in a different character at certain stages of the game, or perhaps change character in-between stages. This might be taking things too far, and perhaps it wouldn't suit Metal Slug, but they definitely need to think about doing something along these lines to make the series seem fresh again. I'd also like to see them make a little bit more of the slide move - it is a welcome addition here, but I never find myself using it all that often to get through a game (only occasionally). If the stages were designed a little bit better and setup to accommodate the slide a lot more (and force you to learn to use it to survive), then it would be a lot more useful. Another option would be to let you carry two items at one time, and switch between them... this could add another new tactical element.

As I talked about at the start of the review, a decent storyline would also be a welcome addition. With characters as fun to watch as the ones in Metal Slug, they practically BEG to have their stories fleshed out a little. Even just a few cut scenes in between stages, like the ones in Metal Slug: 2nd Mission for the NGPC would be a welcome addition. Perhaps a branching storyline that took you in different directions depending on how well you did on each stage would also be a good idea. The possibilities are endless and I'd love to see something like this implemented on the next game, no matter what hardware platform it appears on.

Overall, Metal Slug 5 is a frustrating game. It does many things right and is an absolute joy to play through the first few times, but after a while you'll begin to notice its shortcomings. It's best described as the "supermodel" of the series; pretty on the outside and a lot of fun to play with, but ultimately it's hollow and vacuous on the inside. It's a shame really as it could have easily been one of the best in the series had a little more effort been put into it! Buy it if you are a big Metal Slug fan and must have all the games, but otherwise you might want to skip it as you won't get your monies worth out of it... especially if you are paying for the home cart.

One other thing to consider - there is still the possibility of an "arranged" version of Metal Slug 5 with some extra stuff added to it. SNK did it with Metal Slug 2/X and SNKP have done it recently with Samurai Shodown 5/Special, so maybe we'll see something similar here? It may be very unlikely now (with the whole Sammy/Atomiswave thing), but it is a possibility. If it doesn't happen on the Neo Geo then I wouldn't be surprised to at least see some extra stuff added to the eventual home ports to the PS2/Xbox. Regardless of what we may or may not see in the future, if you are planning on buying this game I would say that it's not a bad buy, but it's without a doubt one that you should try before you buy, and think twice about it if you aren't a hardcore Slug fan. For many it might be the sort of game that is best to play at the arcades for a while, if you can find an MS5 cabinet that is.


Graphics: 8.5/10
Sound: 10/10
Game play: 8/10
Replay Value: 7.5/10

Overall Rating: 7.5/10




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