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1 or 2 player
Platform Shoot 'em up
Metal Slug 3
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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!
Way back in 1996, who'd have thought that the Metal Slug series would become as successful and well known as it is now? Back then I thought the newly released Metal Slug 1 was amazing, but I never would have guessed that we'd still be seeing sequels for it in the new milennium, much less on the same hardware that it started out on. Still, in 2000 SNK blessed us with another entry into the series, and one that is widely considered to be by far the best one yet.
I'm ashamed to admit that a really long time passed after this game was released in the arcade before I got to play it. At the time there was no way for me to buy the MVS cart as it would have broken me, as I'd blasted a ton of money on Sega Dreamcast games. Add that to the demise of ANY arcades in my area that carried 2D games, and also the lack of a port to any other system (this was way before the PS2 port), and I was pretty much screwed. Being the hardcore Slug fan that I am I was not a happy guy.
Fast forward a little while though and I finally got to play the game when I could afford the MVS cart. I was a little worried at first because I'd seen the game raved about by many different people for so long, and I thought that there was no way it could possibly live up to the hype. This is one occasion however where I was very glad to have been wrong ;-)
After Metal Slug X came out, I said for a long time that there probably wasn't much room to add many new gameplay elements to enhance Metal Slug. Metal Slug X was such a perfect game in my eyes, but SNK have managed to find ways to really improve the experience in Metal Slug 3. Considering the troubles that the company was going through at the time (financially etc), it is amazing that they managed to get a game of this quality out the door, but I guess it is a real testament to how much effort they put into most of their games.
By the time you reach the 3rd or 4th game in a series, you really do need some kind of hook to reel the fans back in to stop them from losing interest. The biggest twist to the gameplay in this game is the addition of multiple paths through all the stages. I've spoken to a good many people who haven't been too enthusiastic about Metal Slug in the past, and when asked what their problem with the game is, they always say "replay value". While I am of the opinion that a lot of replay value in this series has always come from going back through the game to beat previous high scores and to practice getting through on as few lives as possible, not everyone would agree. This is obviously something that SNK really worked hard on when designing Metal Slug 3 however, and adding multiple paths is their way of alleviating the problem a little.
During most of the stages there are very obvious alternate paths. For example, during the first stage you will start off on a beach, and when you get to the end of it you will have the option of choosing one or two paths:
If you go for the lower route, you'll jump into the submarine and go through an underwater section, while taking the top route will lead you onto a bridge where you will fight some giant insects and then be presented with yet another choice of routes to take. It doesn't matter too much which way you decide to go as you will still end up in the same place regardless (fighting the boss), but the paths on offer do differ greatly. I originally thought that this new gameplay element would be more of a novelty than anything, but it really does affect the way that you play the game immensely.
While the alternate paths that I just mentioned are very obvious, there are also a number of hidden paths that determined players can find. I won't mention any of these here though as I wouldn't want to spoil it for you, so read an FAQ if you really must. This increases the fun factor, as you will often find new paths that you haven't seen before, even if you have already played through the game a couple of times. So, even after you have completed the game before, you'll still want to go through it again to check out sections you haven't seen, in comparison to the older MS games where you would always play on the same stages no matter what. Although it is only a matter of time before you have been everywhere, this is without a doubt one of the best things to happen to the series.
You may have noticed that I said the words "giant insects" above, and you may also be saying to yourself "what the hell?". If that sounds bizarre, and if you are used to the WWII-esque theme of the last three games, you may be in for a big shock. While Mordens troops are still present throughout most of the game, you will find yourself fighting a much more varied group of enemies this time, and some might say a much weirder one. If you thought the Egyptian mummies and aliens were a weird twist in MS2/X, just wait till you see what's on offer here. In the five stages that the game has to offer, you will annihilate giant crabs, zombies, snails, sasquatch, and a group of homicidal man-eating plants, although that is only the start of it. As I said, this might sound bizarre and some people may dislike this change in direction, but one thing's for sure... no two stages look the same!
I mentioned that there are five stages in the game, and I can imagine what you are thinking. When I first heard there were only five (compared to six in the other Slugs) I worried that the game had become a little shorter, probably due to all of the extra work SNK did on adding extra paths through the game. Once again however, I could not have been more wrong! There may be slightly less stages, but the first four stages seem to be at least a little longer than what we are used to (especially if you go through some of the hidden paths). Then there is the fifth and final mission, which happens to be one of the longest stages you are ever likely to see in this type of game, and by far one of the most varied! Parts of the stage are on foot, but you start off flying in either the Slug Plane or the newly added Slug Helicopter, get to fly a space shuttle and also drive the classic Tank Slug for a while. The stage is so long that there are FOUR sub-bosses in total, as well as one final boss. Suffice to say, it is a very challenging area!
Speaking of difficulty, the whole game seems to be much harder than any other Slug game up to this point. While getting through the first stage is a breeze, as soon as you are off that you will find yourself dying very frequently unless you keep on your toes. Even veterans of the series will need quite a long time to get used to it, and I still find many of the sections of the game hard even now... then again I'm not necessarily an expert. Whatever some people try to tell you though, it is NOT impossible... after just a few plays through the game I managed to significantly reduce the amount of continues I used, and I have seen a few videos of the real experts getting through the game with one life or one credit. It's a mammoth task for sure, especially when you have the game set to a higher difficulty (level 8 scares me to be honest), but one that will keep dedicated players blasting away for quite some time.
There are no new standard weapons in Metal Slug 3, but there are number of new vehicles, as well as some other little surprises. I haven't listed all of them here, but you can still find high powered versions of many of the weapons, like the big heavy machine gun.
Standard issue! Infinite ammo and it can only shoot left and right or directly up when you are standing, and down while you are jumping. It cannot fire diagonally at all.
When you are close up to an enemy, killing them in a variety of different ways is still as much fun (and ammo saving) as it always was! ;-)
Again, these are standard issue - you start each life with 10 and can find more during each stage.
Heavy Machine Gun:
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.
This gun unleashes a blast of fire that is very powerful. 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 enemies.
The missiles that the rocket launcher fires have a lot of power, and also have a slight homing ability which is very handy.
For the past three games this has been my favourite weapon, and it is no different here. It has a very short range, but still disintegrates almost anything that gets in your way.
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.
Shoots small rockets that look like planes, which shoot across the floor.
Similar to the rocket launcher, but not as powerful. It does have a better homing ability however, hence the name.
Drops bombs that bounce across the floor.
Quite powerful rockets that fire directly left/right/up/down. Similar to the rocket launcher but doesn't have a homing ability.
Walks along and fires at bad guys with an Uzi! Found on stage 1 if you take the two upward routes, and also on stage 2 while fighting the zombies. I never thought I'd see a machine gun toting monkey shooting a bunch of zombiefied killers... truly classic! :-)
Thunder Cloud: (New)
When collected, this cloud floats across the top of the screen and electrocutes your foes with burts of lightning. Also found on stage 2.
This is found on the final stage. It shoots electricity at your opponent and is very powerful!
Metal Slug X only had one new vehicle, but Metal Slug 3 has quite a few! All of the old ones return and are just as much fun to use, but some of the new ones are VERY cool:
Still one of the most common vehicles, and still as useful as ever. As before, 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! :-)
Found on stage 1 just before you get to the boss, depending on the route you took that is. Pretty much the same as the normal silver Slug Tank, but it moves faster and can jump higher.
Found on the desert stage (stage 4). 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, 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 :-)
Found in a few locations, including the first stage before you get to the boss if you took the correct route. 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. There is one difference with its cannon shots in this game though - when your shots hit the floor they actually sprout legs and run towards your enemy! One interesting thing is that as 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.
Same as it was in MS2 really. 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 the 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.
Slug Sub: (New Vehicle)
You can find this Slug on stage 1 if you take the lower path at the start, and also on stage 3. The gun turret fires 360 degrees, so it takes a while to get used to how it works as it will shoot in whatever direction you are moving. The bullets also arc downwards instead of firing straight as with most other weapons.
Slug Copter: (New Vehicle)
This mini helicopter at first looks as if it plays similarly to the plane, although it is more difficult to use due to the way the gun turret works. Whereas the planes gun turret could only fire at different angles in front of you, the copters can fire 360 degrees. This makes it very difficult to aim in the correct direction when you are also trying to dodge bullets. I like this slug, but to tell the truth I always take the plane when given the choice.
Elephant Slug: (New Vehicle)
This one is found in the hidden cave on stage 2. It is very slow but you can trample all over enemies with it and it also fires lasers of Flameshots out of its trunk if you pick up the correct power-up. You don't get to use it for long, so enjoy it while you can!
Double-Jump Slug: (New Vehicle)
Uses the ammo from whatever gun you are carrying, and can double jump using the jets on its back. Getting in close and pressing fire will make it land a heavy punch, which gives you a good feeling of power!
Ostrich Slug: (New Vehicle)
Doesn't provide you with any protection but it does have a gun turret. It can run very fast and jump extremely far.
Drill Slug: (New Vehicle)
Has a gun turret and pressing C will make the drill on the front extend and do major damage. Pressing B will make the cockpit move up and down, which helps you to avoid certain attacks.
Space Shuttle: (New Vehicle)
Has a gun turret on both sides, and uses the ammo from whatever weapon you are carrying. You get to use the space shuttle while you are heading up through space on the final mission. Also fires missiles if you press C. The gun turrets can break off if you get hit, but when you pick up another weapon powerup they will be restored.
The mummified and big status ailments are still present in this game, but there is a new one as well!
This can happen to you while you are in the tombs on the desert 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.
This happens at many points throughout the game. It is very funny and perhaps a little politically incorrect, but in some ways it can actually help you. 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!!!. Using the big shotgun while in big mode is super cool! :-)
You'll come out of big mode when you find a diet pill, or if you die and then re-spawn.
Zombie Mode: (New)
Being a big fan of zombie movies, this is one of my favourite additions to this game! On stage 2 you will primarily be fighting off a horde of flesh-eating zombies. They spew out some vomit every now and then, and if this touches you it will temporarily turn you into one of them! This makes you very slow and stops you from being able to jump very high, and if you get hit by a zombie again you will die.
Life as one of these flesh eaters does have its advantages though: Other zombies may still be able to kill you, but normal shots from Mordens troops will have no effect. Your C attack will also switch from grenades to a vomit attack that is extremely lethal, and very helpful at times! It does have a lot of lag though, so be careful when you use it.
If you die or collect a first aid box power-up, you will come out of zombie status.
The biggest change in Metal slug 3's graphics is the addition of a LOT of new enemies. As I mentioned above, many of the new enemy sprites you will face are not enemy soldiers or vehicles, they are in fact a variety of weird and wonderful creatures and monsters. All of these new sprites feature the same level of fantastic detail that has become the series trademark, and even if you don't like these new enemies, you can't really failed to be impressed by the work that SNK has put into them. Animation wise, the game is still rock solid in every respect... in fact, calling it "rock-solid" is almost disrespectful. "Fantastic" or maybe "incredible" would be closer to the truth. When you think about how long SNK's graphic designers must have sat down and worked on each and every sprite, it truly boggles the mind. That this is all being achieved on hardware that has been out for more than a decade is even more impressive.
My favourite new additions to the game are the zombies on stage 2. I really do like my splatterfest films, so having a stage in Metal Slug that pays homage to the genre is very cool. Of course, SNK added their own "Metal Slug" twist to this aspect and made them quite humourous, and they are a joy to watch in motion. They drag their feet as they move, spit out and throw vomit at you (that turns you into a zombie as detailed above) and best of all, they don't all look the same as there are a few different types. I also like the way there are injured civilians hanging around stage 2 who will also be turned into zombies if any of the vomit hits them.
As far as backgrounds go, they vary from good to absolutely great. With all of the different routes through the game there are so many varying styles that no two stages look similar at all. You'll get to fight through the desert, underwater caverns, some kind of factory complex, an Egyptian tomb (again) and even on an alien mothership. The only problem I have with the backgrounds is that one or two look a little drab in comparison to the others, and there are a handful of backgrounds that are re-hashed a little from older MS games, but this really isn't too big a problem. With the sheer brilliance of most of the other stuff in the game, you can forgive a few tiny shortcomings.
This truly is one of those games that is almost as fun to watch as it is to play!
Click here to go to page 2 (Sound, Stages and Overall)
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