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Metal Slug 3
game: Metal Slug 3
three star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: SNK
date posted: 12:00 AM Wed Jun 9th, 2004
last revision: 12:00 AM Wed Jun 9th, 2004

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By Eric Qualls

Even though these games have been around for ages, Metal Slug 3 on Xbox is the first game in the series I have actually played. Not that I didn't think the games were worthy, but more because when I went to the arcade I was there to play Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, or to pad my high score on Bust a Move. Yeah, I said Bust a Move. Even though I didn't play the Metal Slug games, they are still a huge part of my memories of the arcade. The screams, explosions, and other sound effects in Metal Slug are very distinct, and these sounds, along with the bells on pinball machines and Shao Kahn saying Finish Him?, make up the soundtrack for much of my youth.

As I played Metal Slug 3 here in 2004, memories of mid 90's arcades came flooding back. And as if the trip down memory lane wasn't enough, the game just happens to be pretty dang fun to boot. Shooter fans, arcade fans, and people that are looking for a challenge will find a lot to like in Metal Slug 3.

Metal Slug 3 has a story, and a distinct cast of characters, but none of them are at all important. Once the game starts and you begin blasting zombies and giant crabs, the storyline takes a backseat to the gameplay. In fact, it is probably in the trunk and not even in the backseat. The point of the Metal Slug games isn't to tell a story, it is to play through as far as you can and rack up as many points as possible and Metal Slug 3 does that very well.

The gameplay in Metal Slug 3 is incredibly simple, but that has a lot to do with why it is so addictive and fun. Basically, you run from left to right shooting everything you see. You start off with a lowly pistol, but you'll soon discover a ton of other weapons including, but not limited to, machine guns and rockets. The enemies you face include a near endless stream of soldiers, zombies, and a large selection of aliens and creepy, crawly insects. To help you in your fight you'll come across several different types of vehicles such as tanks, submarines, and helicopters. One of the staples of the Metal Slug games are the gigantic bosses at the end of each level that will test every ounce of both skill and luck that you can muster. Basically, everything that should be in an arcade shooter has been included and then some.

There are a lot of things to go together that make Metal Slug 3 work. The gameplay is simple, yet addictive, and it is fun to run and jump through a level shooting zombies. Each level also has multiple paths so even though it only takes an hour or so to play through the entire game, you don't have to see the same scenery every time you play through it. Something else that makes Metal Slug 3 great are the transformations your character goes through. If some zombie puke hits you, you turn into a zombie yourself and have to slowly stumble around until you find a med kit. Also, if you eat too many of the food items that enemies drop; you'll turn into a fatso that has some extra abilities. These transformations along with the vehicles you can find as well as the branching paths through the levels mean that there is actually a lot more variety than you would expect in a game where you literally do nothing but walk from left to right constantly shooting stuff. Also, everything is presented with a twisted sense of humor that you can't help but laugh at. Metal Slug 3 is fun, plain and simple.

There are some drawbacks, though. This game is incredibly freaking difficult and you really have bring you're A? game if you want to beat it. It only takes one hit to kill you, and if you aren't paying attention you will die a lot. Something that adds to the difficulty is the wacky continue system. When you use a continue, rather than starting at the place you died you have to start at the very beginning of the level. This is incredibly frustrating, to say the least. After you play a while and start to memorize the levels the game is quite a bit easier, but there are still a lot of sections that seem damn near impossible and take a lot of luck even after you have played through the game a dozen times. Another absolutely irritating aspect of the game is that level 5 is as long as the four levels before it put together. It is just about impossible to make it through the game without running out of continues. Some people will try and defend the extreme difficulty by saying Metal Slug is old school?, but I think it is about time we stopped using that as an excuse for poor game design. Games can be challenging without being frustrating or unfair. Metal Slug 3 isn't one of those games, so don't say I didn't warn you when you snap a controller in half due to frustration.

The graphics and sound are also pretty disappointing. Metal Slug 3 is a port of a four year old arcade game, and in that time I think they could have done something to touch up the graphics a bit. The 2D visuals look nice, and the animation is smooth if not a little limited, but this is 2004 and this is the Xbox, and I think that some steps could have been taken to update the game a little. One good thing is that the game has a blazing fast framerate compared to the arcade version, but I want a little more oomph from the graphics that just don't look as good as some other recent 2D games. The sound also suffers from not taking advantage of the Xbox hardware. It sounds good, but it could be a lot better.

Overall, Metal Slug 3 is worth checking out for pretty much anyone. It is a straight up shooter with a few twists, but there is a lot of variety in the seemingly limited gameplay and it is a very enjoyable experience. Be warned, though, the game can be really difficult at times and the last level is monstrously huge, so if you don't handle frustration very well you need to be careful. Metal Slug 3 will piss you off like nothing else. Other than the difficulty, the only other thing that makes Metal Slug 3 a hard game to fully recommend for purchase is that it isn't a very good value at $40. There are a couple of extra modes that open up when you beat the game, but other than that all there is to do is play through the arcade missions and try to beat your score. Even the most dedicated players will likely get tired of it after a while, so it is hard to tell people to go buy it. When it drops in price, buy it. Until then, give it a rent and enjoy.