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Metal Slug 3 Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . One of the Neo Geo's best action games makes its move to the PlayStation 4. While Metal Slug 3 looks great, the outdating gameplay is becoming harder to defend. It's also difficult to make an argument for the high price point, especially if you're a PS Vita owner. Metal Slug 3 is a fun action game that is once again marred by SNK's inflated pricing. Rating: 50%
Metal Slug 3
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  • Review Score:

  • C
While primarily known as a platform for fighting games, Neo Geo was also home to a number of stylish shoot-em-ups. Metal Slug is not only one of SNK's most celebrated action franchises, but also the most enduring. The series has hit dozens of game consoles, handheld systems and even mobile phones. When a new device pops up, SNK Playmore is quick to create a speedy port for the brand new audience. And like clockwork, we now have Metal Slug 3 on the PlayStation 4.

Before the tone of this review turns sour, this is probably a good time for me to mention that Metal Slug 3 is my favorite chapter in the long-running franchise. It manages to tell an elaborate story through little more than pixel art and over-the-top action scenes. And just when you think you have it figured out, along comes a big twist that sends the action squad in an entirely different direction. It's a delightful shooter that I couldn't get enough of back in 2000.

If you haven't played Metal Slug 3 (or just get the various sequels and spin-offs confused), this is the story of the Peregrine Falcon Strike Force and S.P.A.R.R.O.W.S., who have been sent beyond enemy lines to defeat what's left of General Mordern's army. It won't take long before the fight makes a startling turn towards the supernatural. Instead of fighting the usual army men, our squad comes across people who seem to be infected with a zombie-like illness. And then things get a whole lot worse when the aliens show up.

Although it appears straight-forward, Metal Slug 3 offers more variety than you might expect. Many of the levels play out like a typical Contra-style action game, complete with platforms to jump on and powerful weapons to grab. But just as repetition begins to set in, the game switches gears and turns into an underwater adventure or fight through the clouds. At one point Metal Slug 3 becomes a fairly traditional vertical space shoot-em-up.

The story is spread across five lengthy stages, each bursting with an almost overpowering amount of style and personality. The adventure may be short, but it covers a lot of ground and takes the player all over the world (and beyond). Best of all, it looks great every step of the way. Whether it's years of experience or simply knowing the original hardware, this is SNK's animation team at their finest.

But as exciting as the action is, I'm having a real hard time recommending this newest Metal Slug port. Sure, the graphics look good and it's fun to play with a friend, but it also hasn't aged particularly well and $15 is highway robbery.

Metal Slug 3 (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

This is, for better or worse, a straight-forward arcade port. As such, the game was designed to suck quarters from player's pockets, which translates into one cheap death after another. Instead of plugging quarters into the PlayStation 4, we're given unlimited continues to play around with. Unfortunately, this makes the game too easy, and most players will have no trouble beating Metal Slug 3 in around an hour.

It doesn't help that the gameplay feels old school in the worst ways possible. Our four heroes have the basic run-and-gun moves down, but that's about it. There's no shooting diagonally or advanced slide move, which can make the combat a bit limiting. This is a design choice SNK has stuck with since day one, and it becomes harder to defend with each passing release. This originally came out in 2000; more than a dozen years after Contra established the need for diagonal shooting.

Speaking of things that are hard to justify, Metal Slug 3 is overpriced at $15. Even with the added benefit of being cross-buy with PS Vita and PlayStation 3, it's an hour-long experience with limited replay. The few branching paths are cool, but not enough to bring players coming back after a few runs.

This is the same price as many brand new action games, most of which offer considerably more content. This is not one of those games where the creators have lovingly added fresh content to the port; it's a barebones package with nothing new to offer fans. I champion SNK bringing their entire Neo Geo library to current consoles, but not at $15 a pop.

Metal Slug 3 (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The price is especially egregious to PS Vita owners. Fans of this game are better off spending five dollars more for Metal Slug Anthology, which offers six different installments packaged together in one convenient download. It lacks trophies and online play, but does offer a historical overview of the series and is a significantly better deal.

Considering the company is best known for releasing $200 cartridges in the 1990s, you would think SNK might be more conscious of high price points. Apparently they have not learned their lesson, and Metal Slug 3 is a casualty of the misfire. Fans of the series likely already own this game or can find it cheaper on a bevy of other consoles, and Metal Slug newbies are better off playing Mercenary Kings or waiting for Axiom Verge.
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