Metal Slug is back for more of the same, with exactly the same results as before. When it was first introduced, Metal Slug was one of the best looking and playing games on the Neo Geo. Part of this may have been because it was not a fighting game, but a large chunk of it had to do with how much personality it had, it was overflowing with amazing animation and overly detailed levels. When it was first released Metal Slug was exactly the type of 2D shooter we hoped to see in the future.
But something happened in the last ten years ... actually, to be more accurate, NOTHING happened in the last ten years. Here we are looking at Metal Slug 4 and I honestly tell you that if it weren't for the number at the beginning of the game, I would have never known which one this was. It plays exactly like the first Metal Slug, which means that you're dealing with a slow moving character that runs from the left to the right shooting and dodging. Outside of a new weapon or two nothing has changed here, it's just you fighting your way through soldiers, vampires, and just about anything else they can throw at you.
If you haven't had a chance to experience Metal Slug yet, it's a traditional 2D shooter in the same vein as Contra, Alien Hominid, and Gunstar Heroes. You choose between four soldiers (who all play exactly the same) and go out on a battle to destroy all of the large bosses the enemies can throw at you. You can adventure forth alone or go with a friend, either way you'll be fighting through six fairly short levels of non-stop action. Metal Slug 4 may not reinvent the wheel, but it does look good doing what it does.
Although this SNK's games are still running on old technology, Metal Slug 4 does manage to look amazing. It sports some funny animations that may keep you from killing people just to see what they will do. The levels are also unique, each offering their own set of enemies and challenges. There is a wide assortment of vehicles to pilot, including a few new ones exclusive to Metal Slug 4. It may not look like Metal Gear Solid, but for 2D animation, Metal Slug 4 looks mighty good.
But at its core Metal Slug 4 feels like nothing more than a remake of the first three games, it barely adds anything new to the genre and often feels more like an expansion pack than anything. All of the problems found in past games - not being able to shoot diagonally, easy difficulty level, etc. - all show up in this game. And to make matters worse, this experience lasts all of about 45 minutes, which could be a problem for anybody expecting a deeper experience. The truth is that there is nothing in Metal Slug 4 that you didn't get in Metal Slug 3, all the way down to graphics, sound, and game play. It's not that this is a bad game; it just doesn't do anything to keep it from looking like everything else.