Reviewed in 2012 by Tibe

MADE IN KOREA

by Tibe

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For this fifth Metal Slug episode, SNK Playmore has entrusted the development to a Korean company: Mega Enterprise. In 2002, the historical SNK company no longer exists:  its doors has been closed, and after many legal battles and financial manipulations, the editor rises from its ashes under the form of Playmore. The latest episode, Metal Slug 3 (released in 2000) had set a high quality level, featuring top-notch gameplay, life and realization. The last SNK game was 708 megas heavy and it was showing; and the first (bad) surprise with Metal Slug 4 is that it suffered a little rhinning: it weights 553 megs only! Mega doesn't like megas? It's surprising but anyway, after all, size doesn't matter... So before jumping to conclusions, let's see more closely what this korean episode have in the stomach. Speaking about news, two characters are introduced: Nadia and Trevor. Exit Tarma and Eri, only the cute Fio and the legendary Marco are kept for this mission. About weapons, the Double Heavy Machine Gun appears: two HMG in the hands, that's cool! One big downside, it can't shoot in diagonal... 

The Double Machine Gun is efficient, but it can't shoot diagonally.
The Double Machine Gun is efficient, but it can't shoot diagonally.

We suffer the pure and simple disappearance of super-powerful versions of weapons (inaugurated in Metal Slug X), and it's a shame. Vehicle side, only the traditional Metal Slug is retained, and three new ones are emerging: the Bradley is the enemy missile-launcher, Walk-Machine is a mechanical wolf that replaces Camel Slug, Metal Claw is the big blind that can push enemies. And incidentally, you will have to drive a forklift, as a bit temperamental handlerWhat is most striking when playing Metal Slug 4, is the graphic achievement. I am absolutely not exaggerating by saying that 95% of the backgrounds and enemies of the game are ripped from previous episodes. And that's so sad! Ultimately, Metal Slug X from Metal Slug 2 brought more changes! We recognize, of course, the Morden soldiers, the zombies borrowed from episode 3, swordsmen from the second, tanks, planes, turrets, bunkers, crates... Nothing surprising here, it's déjà vu from A to Z. The most obvious is still the use of backgrounds, which were taken here and there in the previous episodes, and then reassembled with no talent.

A combo system makes its appearance in MS4.
A combo system makes its appearance in MS4.

The few new visuals such as streets, snowy mountains or a few other 'original' passages, are not particularly beautiful and some even use strange perspectives, never seen before in MS. Then you understand why the designers have chosen to do as little as possible. The animation is nothing to be ashamed, it's MS as we are used to enjoy it. Only new Bosses or the new enemies animations are a bit below, but it's still good enough. Besides, very few slowdowns are to be reported. The soundtrack, like the rest of the game, gleefully plundered the SNK database and is therefore featuring great sound effects. The new ones are far to be as good as the old ones. About the musics, this is the one and only original work of Mega. Let's say it's pretty average and even sometimes no good at all. Most of the compositions are uninspired and repetitive. Only themes from stages five and six are a little better, but still far from catchy themes of the saga's first episodes. So let's say we aren't facing an original and surprising opus with this Metal Slug 4. In addition, the realization is by far, the worst that we have seen on the Neo Geo so far, and this in every consideration. 

Bosses are big and whacky, as usual in the series!
Bosses are big and whacky, as usual in the series!

However the life span is doing the job, with six relatively long stages and a tough challenge. Let's talk about this difficulty: what a mess! In Metal Slug 3 it was progressive and logical: we were sometimes facing numerous enemies, some tanks and soldiers combining their efforts in delicate combat configurations for the player, but always leaving an exit and a sense in play. Here, the game takes you from behind as a traitor many, many times, using cunning strategies and concentrated attacks, oftenly leaving no chance of survival. The will to improve playing is thereby much lessened and the pleasure of play weakened. What made the strength of ancient episodes is here a distant memory, and the vast majority of players will return quite rarely to MS4, as it quickly gets boring. Anyway, the gameplay is still in the line of our good old Metal Slug games, with its countless animations, many vehicles, some fun scenes and Bosses impressive enough. The realization is disappointing and contains no surprise for the player waiting for novelty and spectacular things. As you can see, we are dealing with a quite tasteless Metal Slug 4 -especially compared to its elders - which owes its salvation to  solid foundations, here borrowed with no imagination.


GRAPHICS

79%

Metal Slug 4 is made from part of previous episodes. The rare new graphics are no good, with perspectives that are sometimes hazardous.
ANIMATION 90%
It's a notch below other episodes, but the slowdowns are quite rare.
SOUND 82%
Effects are - as for the graphics-  borrowed from other MS games, and only the deceiving musics are new.
REPLAY VALUE 86%
Six stages and an honest life, despite it's shorter than episode 3. You won't really come back once finished, due to the many daunting action phases.
GAMEPLAY 83%
MS4 is taking back the basics, but adds an awful frustrating difficulty, that alters gaming pleasure. It's quite disappointing for a Metal Slug game.

NEOGEOKULT

RATE

84%
A Metal Slug ersatz, clearly not matching its brothers' quality, but finding salvation thanks to its pedigree.

VALUE FOR MONEY

MS4 is the cheapest Metal Slug (about 250 euros) but also the worst of all on Neo Geo! Better go for the 3, a little more expensive... but so much better!

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