Publisher: SNK Playmore
Release Date: August 17, 2005
Although I've already reviewed Metal Slug 4&5 for the Playstation 2, I was mildly interested in the Xbox version. The reason why I was interested should be obvious to anyone who has played Metal Slug 3 for Xbox: brand new, Xbox-exclusive levels and HDTV support. Metal Slug 3 did make one fatal mistake, which you can read about that in my Playstation 2 MS 4&5 review.
For those of you who are reading to find out what the differences between the Xbox and PS2 versions of this game are, you can stop right here. They are exactly the same. The Xbox version has only one feature not present in the PS2 version: online scoreboards. This is no joke; there are no exclusive levels, no HD support, nothin'.
That being said, I actually prefer the PS2 version a little more, but this has to do exclusively with my taste in controllers. The Xbox controller is a little too big and clunky for a 2D action game like Metal Slug. Our jumping and shooting skills need to be precise enough as it is, and having an unwieldy controller doesn't really help the situation any; it simply leads to more untimely deaths.
Of course, a major point of contention with the Playstation version of MS 4&5 for me is the fact there are infinite continues. This is still present on the Xbox, and I still think it's an unforgivable sin. I mean, infinite continues take away any sense of accomplishment that the player might feel upon beating a game such as Metal Slug. It's still fun, just … unrewarding.
Graphically, the games pale beside Metal Slug 3; they still look nice, but they are a bit pixelated, and less detailed. The boss designs in particular are somewhat lackluster. Metal Slug 4, especially, is a victim of somewhat unappealing graphics. Maybe "unappealing" isn't exactly the right word because I like the graphics well enough, but they don't look too hot when compared to the older Metal Slug games. Metal Slug 5, however, sports some great new enemy designs, and a particularly fun new Slug which I've named "Metal von Slugenstien." It's basically a giant, four-legged walking death machine that takes up half of the television screen. Fun! The animation for all of the characters and enemies and whatnot is still fantastic, although a lot of it is recycled from previous games.
The music is, as usual, fun, catchy, and vaguely military-themed. Metal Slug 5 sticks more or less to the formula seen in the older games, and delivers classic Metal Slug tunes, albeit a little spruced up. Metal Slug 4 takes a more dancy, more eclectic route; pianos, snare drums, and hard bass beats merge, delivering songs that sound like they'd be right at home in a Darkstalkers or Castlevania game. It's really good, energetic stuff. The sound effects are, well, loud, as they should be. Machine guns, explosions, and screaming soldiers create a cacophony that sometimes drowns out the music. I suggest playing these games at a very loud volume level so you can't even hear yourself think. I'm not really…joking about that either. Try it. It makes the game more fun.
Metal Slug 4&5 has a fantastic instruction manual; full of wacky information about the characters and the plot, it made me laugh out loud several times. I mean come on, "Peregrine Falcon Squad?" That's funny! What? You don't think it's funny?? Soulless jerk! (kidding!)
The games, like all Metal Slug games, are best when played with another person. A great thing about the series is that it appeals to just about everyone, so you shouldn't have a hard time finding someone to play it with. Both Metal Slug 4 and Metal Slug 5 have some of the soul and energy of the originals; they're big on charm and humor, and this is readily apparent to anyone. Both games feel like a blast of exuberant, passionate, youthful energy and would seem almost immature if every detail weren't immaculately planned. Of course, frenetic energy isn't something that's easy to maintain for a long period of time, and these are arcade games. As a result, each game takes about a half an hour to beat, which is all the more reason to play both of them back-to-back!
I've said it before, and I'll say it again; there isn't much to say about Metal Slug 4&5 that hasn't already been said. The changes to gameplay are minimal, with the only new element being the slide maneuver in Metal Slug 5. I recommend this super-ultra-value-combo-pack to anyone looking for a tight, frantic, and hilarious action shooter. It's simple, it doesn't mess with you, and in these days where games are becoming increasingly complicated affairs, it has the simple, yet elegant beauty of a diamond in the rough.