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DS  header logo

Metal Slug 7

For: DS

Short and sharp

Product: Metal Slug 7 | Developer: SNK Playmore USA | Publisher: UTV Ignition Games | Format: DS | Genre: Action, Arcade | Players: 1 | Version: US
Metal Slug 7 DS, thumbnail 1
It's pretty rare for a game series to tout a just title number beyond the third or fourth instalment. Hyphenation has become the fad of late, with every new sequel boasting some jazzed up subtitle to replace the release number.

Old skool to the last, Metal Slug 7 resists the temptation and opts to keep things simple in name and in game too, as this straightforward side-scrolling shooter has all the trappings of a modern classic. A lack of content is the only thing that prevents it from reaching its full potential.

Six troopers trek to a garbage-riddled island in search of the maniacal Morden as the curtain opens on Metal Slug 7. Choosing one of these soldiers - Marco, Eri, Tarma, Fio, Ralf, or Clark (each offers his own specialisations) - you work through a short seven-mission campaign. Locating the villain is your primary objective, but along the way mowing down hordes of enemies, jumping into slug suits or tanks, and freeing imprisoned allies is a good distraction.

Like its many preceding instalments, Metal Slug 7 is difficult. Three settings - easy, normal, and hard - provide some scaling of enemy strength but this isn't to imply that you can breeze through the game on easy. Even on this lowest level of difficulty, the game proffers a serious challenge.

The three lives you're given at the start of each new game don't last long, which make continues a gracious fail-safe measure. Employing one of your nine continues washes away your points and relinquishes any prisoners you may have released up to that point. But it's a fair trade-off: you get to continue the game at the spot you died at the cost of resetting your stats.

Despite how difficult this game is, however, frustration never sets in. Metal Slug 7 walks the amazingly thin line between challenge and aggravation. You can make it through the game without ever stamping on your DS and the continue system ensures that completion is possible.

High point totals and releasing every POW is another matter though. If you're talented enough to make it through entire missions without dying, working toward a high score and tracking down prisoners introduces another layer of difficulty.

Short levels also help make the game palatable. Each of the campaign's seven missions break down into three action stages and a boss battle. The action stages are brief, lasting only a few minutes. This enables you to finish a mission in a matter of 15-20 minutes. It's hard to get too annoyed with a game that gives you such bite-sized challenges. Should you fail to finish a mission, you're less inclined to be upset because running through a second or third time won't take you long at all.

Length acts as a double-edged sword though. While it provides easy portable play and dispels frustration, it also limits the game's value. You can burn through the campaign in an hour or two. Effort has been made to coax you into playing through it again by giving incentives for releasing all the hidden POWs. But curiously, there's no multiplayer support of any kind - not even online high score rankings via the Nintendo WiFi Connection.

Instead, the special training missions are intended to keep you playing, which is a misnomer given that these task you with replaying parts of the campaign with a specific objective in mind.

For example, one type of training mission asks you to defeat a boss with a single life, whereas another grades you on the number of items you pick up. Since you're asked to run through familiar territory, it's hard to see how you'd want to sit for for hours on end tackling these optional missions; it remains a short session distraction.

Like it's name then, Metal Slug 7 is far too simple for its own good. While it delivers satisfying side-scrolling action, there's just not enough of it to keep you entertained for more than a couple of short if frantic hours.
Metal Slug 7
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 4 December 2008
Metal Slug 7 provides great action, but unless you're a total completist, it's far too short an experience
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