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September 02 2014

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  Metal Slug 5 - ©Playmore 2003





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


Game Stats
Other:
Players:
1 or 2 player

Type:
Platform Shoot 'em up

Size:
708 Megs
Japanese Name:

Metal Slug 5

Released On:

Home/MVS


Reviewed By:
Top Reviews By This Author:
- The King Of Fighters: Maximum Impact (PS2)
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- Metal Slug 5 (Neo Geo)
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Other Opinions - More Reviews On NG4L:
Review 2 - by Raiken



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

After what many people would consider the complete debacle that was Metal Slug 4, a lot of people wondered what was next for the series. Although I never personally thought that MS4 was *that* bad a game, it was by far the weakest in the series and not nearly as good as MS3. While development of this title was being moved back to SNKP themselves (instead of Mega Enterprises who did MS4), most still felt that it was unlikely that MS5 could come close to re-capturing the glory of MS3. Things started to look up when the first batch of screenshots was released however. Instead of the re-hashed mess of the last game, MS5 appeared to have some new enemies, so perhaps it would turn out to be a good game after all?


Gameplay

First off, Playmore have seen fit to banish Trevor and Nadia back to the Mega Enterprises design studio that they came from. Whether this was because they decided they didn't think they were very good, or whether Mega didn't let them use them I don't know, but it's kind of a shame that Nadia isn't in there as I did have a bit of a soft spot for her (Trevor was an ugly sprite though). Thankfully this means that Tarma and Eri have been restored to leading roles once again, so that is definitely cause for some celebration... Tarma is THE MAN as far as I am concerned!

It's safe to say that after the mauling Metal Slug 4 got at the hands of most critics and fans, Playmore knew they needed to get the series back on track and produce a game that they could be proud of. They really had to inject some fresh life into the series, or risk letting it become very stale. In the opinion of most people, up until MS3 each game had shown some kind of improvement or great new addition, so MS4 was seen as a huge step backwards. Some kind of new game play ingredient was necessary, especially considering this was going to be the sixth game in the series (eighth if you count the NGPC versions, ninth if you count the GBA version). Unfortunately for them (and for us), they haven't been totally successful, although they have delivered a reasonably competent game that at least does quite a few things right.



The main new addition to this game is a sliding move. Pressing B (jump) while ducking down will make you slide a few feet across the ground, which can be useful for avoiding some enemy attacks. It isn't an earth shattering addition and I think it could have been put to better use if the games design demanded that you use it a little more, but it is nice to have it in there. The only real problem that I have with the slide is that once again they haven't used the Neo Geo's four button setup to its full effect, as the D button could easily have been used for this command as the only other time it is used is for escaping from a vehicle. By using B for both slide and jump, you occasionally end up doing the wrong thing (i.e. sliding), which frequently ends up with you getting slugged. Frustrating at first, but it is something that you learn to deal with... you just need to remember that you can't jump while in a ducking position! Also, you can't throw grenades while sliding, but you can fire your gun.

Other than that, the game play remains largely untouched and your objective is still the same; make your way across each stage killing and destroying everything in your path, and then kicking the crap out of the boss at the end of each one. The main change here though is that Morden's troops are nowhere to be seen, and the enemies are all brand new! On the first stage you have to fight some army guys along with some tribesmen who look very similar to Mudman from ADK's World Heroes! Later on you'll have to fight some special forces guys who look very cool, but more about them later. While these new enemies may be mainly a cosmetic change, it does initially make the game feel a bit more fresh than it has done for a while, which is to be commended.

You don't find out too much about the background of these new enemies however, unless you take a look at a source other than the game itself (like the official website). Metal Slug has never had a storyline that's been fleshed out properly in game, but it always had some semblance of a plot that gave you enough reason for having to kill your enemies. In the first Metal Slug you were fighting against General Morden's army, in MS2/X Morden had made a deal with some invading aliens which turned sour, and that was continued in MS3. Even MS4 had a storyline about a new threat from a group called Amadeus that was explained a little in game. In MS5 there is no real explanation given for anything that is happening, and that is a little disappointing, especially given the work that has gone into creating these new and rather cool looking characters. All I really know is that they are apparently from a group called the "Ptolemaic Army", and that they have stolen a disc containing some Metal Slug secrets, which the Slug squad is sent in to recover... but they end up getting a bit more than they bargained for!

The biggest disappointment with this area of the game is that it seems like Playmore actually were planning on adding cut scenes and fleshing out the story, but they abandoned this idea somewhere during the development cycle. This is highlighted by the small cut scene that happens at the end of stage 1. You get to see a mask (which almost looks like one Jason Vorhees would wear) fall onto the floor and then a number of scared tribesman go to inspect it. One of them puts the mask on and gets shocked by some lightning, and that's basically it. I'm not sure why they never expanded on this at any point, but it was perhaps due to time constraints, or maybe because they were not happy with it for some reason. Either way, for want of a better word it pretty much "sucks".



When I first saw this cut scene I expected it to be followed up at the end of each stage or something, but it wasn't... although you do get to see the same masked guy a couple of times later on in the game (see the two screens above). It would be nice to know what exactly happened to him - I guess the mask had some kind of curse that turned him evil, but the fact that the game doesn't show you leaves it feeling a little bit empty. I just wish that they had put a bit more work into this aspect of the game, as it would have made it feel like much more of a complete product.

Speaking of "complete products", another HUGE letdown in this game is that there doesn't seem to be many alternate routes in it at all, which is totally shocking if you ask me. Things seem to have gotten gradually worse since MS3 introduced this feature - MS3 offered a superb number of routes through the game, while MS4 didn't have quite as many but still enough to add a bit of variety and replay value, but MS5 is just a total disappointment. During the first stage there are a good number of different paths, and even a hidden sub-boss, but after that there is practically nothing at all apart from a hidden section on stage 3. Again, it seems like the developers intended for there to be a lot more hidden stuff, but for whatever reason they suddenly decided to ditch whatever ideas they had. This is unacceptable in my opinion.

Anyway, that's enough for now about what is wrong with the game, as I am probably giving off the impression that it's really terrible, when the truth is that for the most part it is well put together and very enjoyable to play. They have managed to get quite a few things right and correct a lot of the problems that plagued the previous game. The stages are nicely varied and better designed, they have re-instated some of the older vehicles and got rid of the poorly designed ones from the last game, they added a couple of great new vehicles, and most importantly the gameplay feels better balanced than MS4. It still isn't perfect and one or two of the bosses are a bit cheap, but overall a lot more thought seems to have gone into its design.



I'd describe the difficulty in MS5 as MUCH lower than MS3 and MS4. The stages are easier to get through and don't usually have as many enemy sprites on screen at one time, although some of the bosses can be a little challenging, but far from the hardest we have seen in the series. At least this time around the difficulty of these bosses seems to gradually increase instead of being very challenging at the start, and then suddenly becoming much easier later on in the game like in MS4. It isn't perfect, and there's a couple of slightly cheap bosses who use attack patterns that are extremely hard to avoid at times, but generally they are fairly well designed and far better than anything from the previous game. If you practice hard you can beat the cheaper bosses without dying anyway, you just have to be careful.

The three new Slug vehicles that have been included in this game are pretty damn good, although sadly you don't get to use them for very long. The best one is the "Slug Gunner", a massive robot, which is available for use on two of the stages and is very cool. It's EXTREMELY heavy and slow when you walk along normally and it takes a second or so to turn and face the other way, but the feeling of power when you are in control of this thing is exceptional and it even has a second mode where it turns into a tank (more on this later). As for the other two vehicles, the car and the Spider Slug, they are only used once each during the course of the game but I'll talk about them a little more in the weapons section below.

Other than the lack of alternate routes mentioned above, the design of all the stages is pretty good, although it is much shorter than MS3 and a bit shorter than MS4. Like Metal Slug 3, this game has five stages, but none of them really match up to the longer stages of MS3, and the final stage is kind of a letdown as it all seems to end rather suddenly. Like I said though, I did get the feeling that some thought had actually gone into them, which was totally unlike my experience of MS4, so regardless of what they have done wrong here MS5 is definitely a much higher quality game. They've tried to keep the stages varied (with different vehicles etc) so that they don't feel completely mindless and uninteresting... these stages were actually quite a rush to play through while they lasted, it's just a shame that Playmore didn't try to build on them a little more.

It's worth noting that there's a lot less in the way of "status ailments" or whatever you want to call them. You can turn fat on a couple of stages, but there are no zombies, no mummies and no monkey mode. While I don't mind those things not being there, it would have been nice to have some new ones... no such luck however. It's also surprising that no new guns have been added, but I'm thankful that they kept the double machine gun that was introduced in MS4.


Weapons

There are no new weapons introduced in MS5, but there are a couple of new vehicles. Here's a list of everything in the game:

Pistol:



Standard issue! The pistol has 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.

Close Combat:



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! ;-)

Grenades



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.

Dual Machine Gun:



Get ready for some two-gun action... definitely John Woo inspired stuff here! Not the most imaginative weapon, but still very cool and quite effective. It works similarly to the standard heavy machine gun, but is almost twice as powerful; the only downside is that you cannot fire diagonally at all.

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.

Big Rocket Launcher:



Bigger missiles than the standard rocket launcher that do more damage. Only found on stage 5.

Shotgun:



Still my favourite weapon in Metal Slug, and as well as being one of the most powerful. It has a very short range, but still disintegrates almost anything that gets in your way.

Big Shotgun:



The shot from this doesn't look quite as tall, but it reaches much further across the screen than the standard shotgun. Absolutely awesome whenever you get the chance to use it; it's a shame you only see it on stage 5 in this game!

Laser:



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).

Big Laser:



Same as above, but the beam on this is MUCH wider! Only found on stage 5 during the Spider Slug area.

Iron Lizard:



Shoots small rockets that look like planes, which shoot across the floor.

Enemy Chaser:



Similar to the rocket launcher, but not as powerful. It does have a better homing ability however, hence the name.

Drop Shot:



Drops bombs that bounce across the floor.

Super Grenade:



Quite powerful rockets that fire directly left/right/up/down. Similar to the rocket launcher but doesn't have a homing ability.

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 once in MS5, which is on stage 4.

Vehicles

Metal Slug 5 gets rid of the new vehicles that were added in MS4, brings back a few of the older ones, and adds three new ones of its own:

Tank Slug:



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! :-)

Slug Plane:



Same as it was in the other games. 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. Only used to fight the boss of stage 2.

Slug Sub:



You can find this Slug on stage 4. 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 Gunner: (New Vehicle)



This is one of the best additions to this game. When you jump into it, it takes the form of a slow moving robot, but if you duck down it morphs into a tank that moves a lot faster. It has a gun turret mounted on it and a powerful cannon, however you cannot throw grenades out of it like you can in the Tank when ducking down. If you get in close you can punch your enemies too, which quite literally disintegrates human enemies. It also has a jet pack, jump and then press and hold B and you will float for a few seconds in the air.

This is a very powerful vehicle, but because it is slow it takes a bit of practice to be able to get through the two sections you find it in without getting it destroyed prematurely.

Slug Car: (New Vehicle)



This car is used at the start of the final stage during a short section at the start. It has a gun turret mounted at the back, it can jump, and it can fire homing missiles too.

Spider Slug: (New Vehicle)



Found later on in the game and a real blast to use, even if the experience only lasts about as long as an extra strong mint. It has double gun turrets than can be aimed in all directions and a harpoon attack that you can do by pressing C. It moves along very slowly but you can take enemy vehicles apart with it very rapidly. Gotta love the animation on it too! ;-)


Status Ailments

Only one of these "status ailments" now remains:

BIG Mode:



This only happens at a couple of points in this game, like on one of the paths on stage 1. 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, although you cannot use the slide when fat. 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!!!. The big version of the double machine gun is great fun :-)

You'll come out of big mode when you find a diet pill, or if you die and then re-spawn.


Graphics

In a similar fashion to the game play of MS5, the graphics on offer here are also a mixed bag. In some ways they are great and make the game seem a lot fresher than the series has done in a while (with new sprites etc), but in other ways they are quite average and feel like they could have done with some more work to make them truly great.



First things first: the new enemies. They all look very cool, but when I first took a brief look at them I thought that something wasn't quite right. After playing the game for a while it became clear: although the enemy special ops guys are new, they are at least partially based on the animations for Morden's troops in the past games. There may be some new stuff added here and there, but in general you can definitely see the similarities between them. The tribesmen on stage 1 and the mysterious masked guys are new though, and I think the standard enemy soldiers are new too.

There are a few rather cheap things here and there, and some occasional glitches. For instance, there are some trucks that drive onto the screen during some stages; while the trucks themselves look fine, Playmore's graphics artists don't seem to have paid any attention to the trucks drivers. They look very much like Morden's guys (their face and the helmet they are wearing), so it looks they just directly copied/pasted them instead of at least editing them a bit, which is quite lazy. The glitches I noticed include stuff like the stage 3 boss - if there are any enemy soldiers on screen when you finish him off, they just disappear, which looks a bit crappy. Other than that, I really do like the new enemies, and it definitely helps the game feel a bit more original and less re-hashed.

The stages look decent too and they fit in very well with the characters, but the things I miss really badly from previous games are the little details. For instance, even way back in MS1 there were many items on the stages that could be destroyed when shot at and also some funny moments like where you blow up a cubicle and find an enemy combatant sitting on the toilet. While there are a couple of decent moments in MS5, there's nowhere near that kind of level of detail to be found. Thankfully most of the stages are totally new and not recycled, but the lack of detail counts against them. It's preferable to having a bunch of recycled backgrounds from older games however, that's for sure.

I'm quite impressed with the new vehicles though, both player controlled and otherwise. The new Slug Gunner looks awesome; it's extremely well animated and moves in a totally convincing fashion, and the way the empty shells from the cannon fall out and hit the floor behind it is great. The Spider Slug is HUGE and similarly well animated, and it moves across the screen very smoothly and impressively for such a large vehicle. The Car Slug is pretty cool as well although you only use it for a short time at the beginning of the final mission. The enemy Slugs are well done too, and the Ptolemaic Armies robots look really nice. These new sprites give the game a much more hi-tech feel than the previous games, and although the older games were great, it is nice to have a new style... and I really like it!

Despite the graphical problems it has, the new look for the graphics makes this a much better looking game than Metal Slug 4 but with some more work and more detail, it could have possibly been the best looking Slug game yet. Hopefully they expand on it a lot in the next sequel.


Click here to go to page 2 (Sound, Stages and Overall)

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