previews\ May 9, 2006 at 8:00 pm


E3 2006 Hands On Preview

Metal Slug Anthology isn’t an entirely new Metal Slug – it’s a rebirth of the classic Metal Slug titles we’ve been playing for the past decade or so. The collection includes Metal Slug 1, 2, X, 3, 4, and 5. And it just happens to be one of the most addictive PSP titles ever made.

First things first: the controls are great. They’re not quite as smooth as the Xbox versions (yet), but this is an E3 demo. I wasn’t expecting perfection. It’s pretty close to perfection though, with responsive actions that never fail to get the job done. Running and gunning is a snap, and could even be called easy – I will, however, refrain from using the word “easy” because anyone who’s played the series knows that it’s anything but. While the gameplay can be picked up and enjoyed by anyone, only the hardest of hardcore will be able to stand up to the enemy foes that await them. Only the toughest of tough will be able to endure the stress of losing – on the last level, after playing perfectly – and having to start all over.


Of course, Metal Slug Anthology might prevent that from being a problem. I like my slugs rough and near-impossible to beat. But in the demo it was possible to, when continues were available, start the game from the point where you last died. That was not possible on the first version released for Xbox. Perhaps SNK is trying to give PSP players a little breather room. Or maybe they’re just trying to save my sanity (the developers know it was almost lost the last time I became immersed in a Metal Slug world. I wrote poems, a tell-all book – even went on 20-20 to recap my distress :) ). Either way the game will still be extremely challenging. I say this with certainty because I died several times during the demo.


The graphics are crystal clear and look great in widescreen. Hit the triangle button and the screen will snap into its original 4:3 aspect ratio (the same ratio used by TVs and arcade machines, where these titles originally came from). As much as I hated having black bars on the side of the screen, I must note that the game looked even better in its original form. As is you were already getting a beautiful game with wonderful hand-drawn animation. The more options, the better. Press triangle again and you’ll get an even smaller view. I’m not sure what the purpose of this view is. It sharpened the graphics a little, but overall it didn’t seem to be too huge of a graphical improvement. Perhaps the final version will have a more significant purpose for implementing this feature.


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