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October 17 2017

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  Metal Slug 2 - ©SNK 1998





Click here to view the image gallery for this game -->


Game Stats
Other:
Players:
1 or 2 player

Type:
Platform Shoot 'em up

Size:
362 Megs
Japanese Name:

Metal Slug 2

Released On:

Home/MVS/CD


Reviewed By:
Top Reviews By This Author:
- The King Of Fighters: Maximum Impact (PS2)
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- Matrimelee (Neo Geo)
- Neo Geo Fighter Stick For PS2 (Hardware)


Warning

This is an in depth review, and as such reveals a lot of information about each stage and all the end of level bosses, as well as a few tactics to use in beating them. Although there is no real storyline in the game, if you have not played it before and would rather not know everything about it, I suggest you don't read the "stages" section of the review. I would not want to spoil the experience for you, so I thought it better to mention this before you start reading!



Introduction

Two years after the original Metal Slug, SNK followed up with a sequel to it. During this time, the company responsible for the original Metal Slug game "Nazca" was actually bought out by SNK, who were impressed with the work they had done on the two Neo Geo games they had released. When the two games in question happen to be Neo Turf Masters and Metal Slug however, it was not hard to be impressed; both of those titles remain some of the best 2D entertainment you will find anywhere, so buying out Nazca was definitely a smart move on SNK's part.

I waited eagerly to play this game when it first came out. After playing MS1 to death and loving it, I had a few ideas on what could be done to improve the game (despite MS1 being nigh on perfect in my eyes), but I did have my doubts on how the game would finally turn out. I was wrong to doubt SNK though, as not only did they provide a superb sequel, they also provided us with another of the best titles in the genre!

Thanks go out to VanillaThunder and EvilWasabi over at neo-geo.com for the info about SNK/Nazca!




Characters



Before you jump into the main game, the most obvious addition that you will notice is the character select screen when you start your game. You can choose from two new female characters, as well as the two original male characters (Marco and Tarma). Just like in MS1, the difference between characters is merely cosmetic and doesn't affect the gameplay, but it is still a nice addition as each character has his her own personality (and funny animation), and I guess having two girls and two guys evens things up a little. Tarma still rocks the house though in my opinion ;)



From left to right: Marco, Eri, Fio and Tarma.


Gameplay

As with pretty much any sequel, Metal Slug is not a revolution in gameplay compared to the first game, nor should it be. It builds a little on all the concepts that were introduced in the first game, and in many ways it is a better and more varied game. Thankfully it's also a bit longer than the original, although it has the same amount of stages (six). Instead of being made up of one continuous area, the stages are now mostly made up of a couple of different areas that you have to pass through.

If you played the first one, you will feel right at home with the 3 button setup on offer here. A is the fire button, B is jump, and C throws grenades or fires the cannon that is equipped on most of the Slug vehicles. Sadly though, the D button is still not used for anything, which I think is a shame, seeing as you have to press A+B if you want to do the self destruct move - this can be a pain if you happen to press both by accident and you end up losing your vehicle. If they set that move to D then it would help avoid this, but it is basically something that you just have to be careful of.

Speaking vehicles, there are a number of new ones that you get to control. Along with the classic Tank there is a little mecha, a plane and even a camel (!) that you can use, all of which are very well animated. The tank is still the most common one though, as the other 3 only appear once each throughout the game. Using them to good effect is still pretty essential to your survival, as you will make it a lot harder on yourself if you allow them to be destroyed too quickly (or at all). See below for some more info on the new vehicles.



Vehicles aren't the only new additions though. There's also a new laser gun that you can find on some stages. Of course this would be pointless if there weren't any bad guys to dispatch with it, and Metal Slug introduces a slew of new ones. General Mordens troops are still here and they will be your primary enemy for much of the game, but there are also some others that are specific to certain stages.

As well as all the new stuff on show here, I am glad to say that Metal Slug 2 still retains all of the addictive gameplay that made the original such a blast. Even though the game is still not difficult at all to get through if you have an infinite amount of credits, it is once again a REAL challenge to get through it on one credit, or even with the 4 that the Neo Geo home console version allows you. It is probably more difficult than MS1 in fact, and while the first few stages become a breeze before long, it does get VERY hectic indeed in the latter stages of the game.

Some people actually go as far as to say that the game is unfair and impossible to beat without dying, but any hardcore Metal Slug player will know that is untrue. This difficulty gives you good reason to keep playing, as well as the prospect of getting a higher score. As in the first game there are also a few secrets scattered about the place (like hidden hostages), so finding these can be good fun too. If this doesn't sound very appealing you have to remember that these types of games have never been famed for their gameplay depth anyway, so the chances are that if you get bored of everything you play after completing it once, this probably isn't the ideal game for you.


Weapons

Time to take a look at the supplies you will be using to survive around here. All of the old guns return, but there are a number of new power-up items that you can use to get through this game as well. While only one new gun is introduced, there are some cool new Slug vehicles, as well as a few other interesting status ailments can happen to your character!

Pistol:



Standard issue! The pistol is exactly the same as it was in MS1 - infinite ammo and it can only shoot left and right or directly up when you are standing, and down while you are jumping... and it cannot fire diagonally at all.

Close Combat:



When in close combat, your character does more than just pull out a knife like they did in MS1. Marco has two different animations for using the knife, while Tarma also kicks out at his enemies sometimes. Eri and Fio punch or pull out a blade of their own and slice their enemies with it. There are other animations too, so killing people up close is pretty damn cool!

Grenades



Again, these are standard issue - you start each life with 10 and can find more during each stage. They work just the same as they did in MS1, although they are not quite as as effective against the bosses as they were in that game.

Fire Bomb



Fire bomb is another name for "molotov cocktail", and is basically a more powerful version of the grenade. When it hits the floor the resulting explosion spreads out for a few feet. Especially useful in taking care of an army of the undead on stage 2;)

Heavy Machine Gun:



The same weapon that it was in MS1, no difference here. The Heavy Machine Gun is more powerful than the pistol and fires at a much faster rate, as well as being able to fire diagonally. As with most weapons in Metal Slug however, you cannot fire diagonally constantly; basically if you are firing to either the left or right and then press up (or up and then left/right), you will fire a few shots in a diagonal direction in between.

Flame Shot:



This gun unleashes a blast of fire that is very powerful, but the range is shorter than it was in MS1. It will set enemy soldiers on fire, which sounds nasty but is actually very funny to watch (especially with their comical death screams). Best used for getting rid of large groups of those soldiers, and quite a lot of fun too!

Rocket Launcher:



The missiles that the rocket launcher fires have a lot of power, and also have a slight homing ability which is very handy. They are dropped in fairly strategic locations and are great for taking out tanks and other enemy machinery… but are still great fun to annihilate foot soldiers with too. Same as it was in MS1.

Shotgun:



Still my favourite weapon in Metal Slug, and as well as being one of the most powerful. It has a very short range still, but still disintegrates almost anything that gets in your way. You'll find this weapon a lot more often in MS2, which can only be a good thing! ;-)

Laser:



The brand new weapon of this game. Very powerful and fires a constant beam that goes the whole way across the screen... although you can only fire left/right/upwards, or down when jumping. It does not fire diagonally. You don't tend to find many of these, but when you do it is a blast to use (literally).

Fireball POW:



Not a weapon per se, but I thought I'd mention this guy anyway. When rescued this POW will follow you and launch Hadoken style fireballs at your enemies. He is only found on the first stage and he doesn't help *that* much, but it is still very funny to see! :-)


Vehicles

In Metal Slug 1 there was only one vehicle (the Tank Slug), whereas in this game there are a few others. Here's a list of the Slugs you can expect to find on your way through:

Tank Slug:



Basically the same as it was in the last game, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Still looks cool, and is still invaluable in beating many of the stages. The old duck and throw grenades trick from MS1 doesn't work as well against bosses in this game however (and you won't always be using the tank against many of the bosses), so you'll have to use a bit more skill than before.

You can find some new ammo to equip your Tanks cannon too, which is labelled as "AP" (Armour Piercer). This new ammo will make you cannon fire more or less directly forwards all the way across the screen, instead of only making it a little way across. You can also find powerups that return your cannon to the normal shot (labelled as "NORM") - these are strategically placed in areas where you will need the cannon to fire the standard way.

As in MS1 you are still granted a couple of seconds of invincibility when jumping in and out of the tank, so you can still use this to your advantage! Jumping out seems a tad slower than before though, so it isn't quite as easy to use as before.

Camel Slug



Only found on the first stage and quite a lot of fun, but not really as useful as the Tank Slug. The rate of firepower is about the same as the Tank, but it does not have a cannon; you can however throw grenades while riding it. Obviously it doesn't offer you any protection though, so if you get hit once you will lose a life, unlike the other Slugs which have an energy bar. You can still trample all over enemies with it though :-)

Slug Mecha



This little mecha is only found at the location where you fight the 2nd boss. It has 2 turrets on either side that fire the same sort of bullets as the Tank, and has a cannon that fires directly down. This is ideal for the second boss though, as you will see. One interesting thing is that when it gets damaged the turrets on either side get blown off, one by one. If you only have the cannon left, then you are probably better off jumping out of it and firing your normal gun instead.

Slug Plane



Only found on the 3rd stage, on the run-up to the boss. Once again it has a similar gun to the one found on the other Slugs, but it also has a finite supply of missiles which can be fired one at a time. Unlike the other Slugs, you cannot jump in and out of this Plane unless you land it first. You can eject out by pressing A+B together, but this will destroy the plane as well, causing damage to any enemies that it might hit. I love using this Slug, but I kind of wish it was used on more than just the one stage.


Status Ailments

A couple of status ailments can be inflicted on your character from time to time:

Mummy Mode:



This can happen to you while you are in the tombs on the second stage. It happens if you get hit by either the potions that the bats drop down, or the mummies breath. While in this mummified state you will be VERY slow, you will only be able to fire the pistol, and grenades will take an age to throw. If you get hit by a mummies breath or one of the bats potions again, it will kill you. The only way back out of Mummy mode is to either die and re-spawn, or to pick up one of the "HUMAN" items that are littered about the stage.

BIG Mode:



This status ailment which can happen on stage 4 is very funny (also a little politically incorrect?), but in some ways it can actually help. While it does slow you down a bit, your weapons become more powerful and also look very different. The most hilarious part of big mode is when you get close to an enemy soldier - instead of using a knife to kill them, you will use a fork!!! :-)

You'll come out of big mode when you find a diet shake later in the stage, or if you die and then re-spawn.


Graphics

Graphically, the original Metal Slug was something of a revelation. Never before had a game of this style been blessed with as much personality and style, and never before had a game been so entertaining to just watch... it was fun even if you were not the one holding the controller. Sometimes it is actually beneficial to watch someone else play - you end up noticing many things that you probably wouldn't have in the heat of battle.

MS2 continues this fine tradition with six new stages that are easily on par (and perhaps even better) than the ones in the original game, as well as the previously mentioned new characters/vehicles. SNK didn't spare any attention to detail either, and made sure that all of them featured the same kind of brilliant animation that bought the original to life. To this day MS2 remains one of the nicest looking 2D games around.

One major improvement is the previously mentioned greater variety of enemies. While MS1 had you fighting only the Nazi-esque army guys, MS2 brings in a whole host of new ones. Along with the regular enemy soldiers and tanks etc, you will also fight against some sword wielding arab guys on the first stage, mummified warriors on the 2nd stage, mutants on stage 5, and eventually a hoard of evil Aliens who seem hell bent on taking over our world. Cliched I know, but as with everything in this series they are presented in a very humourous way and aren't quite what you might expect!



Many other neat little touches are littered across each stage as well. On stage 1 you will find some civilian guys near the start that are talking to each other and usually seem oblivious to the carnage going on around them; sometimes they run off screaming as soon as you start firing your gun though. On stage one there is also a section where a baby is crawling across the floor - for obvious reasons you can't harm it, but if you toss a grenade or two nearby the blast will send the baby flying into the air... very funny! On another stage which starts off on a train, there are a bunch of enemy soldiers sitting around a campfire, while one of their friends is lying on a deck chair and getting a sun tan while drinking a can of coke; you can of course cut his time in the sun short by shooting him if you wish.

The level of detail is fantastic, but it does come at a price however, and this one issue is probably the only thing that stops the game from being nigh on perfect. You can probably guess what I am going to say next... slowdown! Metal Slug 2 suffers from more obtrusive slowdown than its previous incarnation, in fact it is almost a constant problem. A friend and I once joked that the Wachowski brothers probably got the idea for the "Bullet-Time" effect used in The Matrix after a session of Metal Slug 2, and that is almost not too far from the truth, such is the level of slowdown here.

If you wanted to be really optimistic, you could say that this slowdown actually helps you play the game, as you have more time to see and react to bullets that are flying towards you, making an otherwise very difficult game easier. This is true I suppose, but there is no escaping from the fact that when the framerate starts to chug like this, it hampers the overall experience a little bit. I wouldn't go as far as to say that it spoils it, but I do know of people that have given up playing MS2 and gone on to the next sequel in the series (MSX) because of it. I personally think that it would take a lot more than this to spoil such a quality game, and I guess that you could say after owning a SNES in the early 90's I also got used to this kind of thing in shoot 'em ups (Super R-Type anyone?). Nevertheless, it is a shame that it happens, but you will hopefully learn to ignore it in the same way that I have.


Go to Page 2 - Sound, Stages and Overall Rating

Back to Neo Geo Reviews -->


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