After dishing out much love to The 'Slug months ago this most crumbly of shooters is finally getting a UK release. And, despite its looks it's a beautiful game. Not in a Cameron Diaz-type way, but more like your Michelle Pfeiffers or your Amanda Donohoes: ultimately starting to show its age and not to everyone's taste, but still undeniably worth a try.
Previously only available on the Neo Geo and a conversion to the ill-fated Sega Saturn in the '90s, this is the first version of Slug to appear on PS2. You initially take the fight to the Moden army on foot, in a side-scrolling, power-up filled bonanza. Next you head off into space to save a captured comrade from invading aliens with the help of your former enemies. Pick either Marco, Eri, Tarma or Fio, and you're immediately thrown into the thick of things, battling through five of the toughest and most enjoyable 2D blasting stages to grace a home console. The eponymous Slug of the title refers to the squat super-deformed tank you get the chance to pilot part way through the game and forms part of an arsenal that includes subs, planes, mini-mechs and, more bizarrely, heavily armoured camels and elephants.
The attention to detail, love and humour shown throughout this classic puts a lot of 3D games to shame. Pretty much everything on screen is animated be it guards mugging to the camera, hostages struggling to break free, or crabs giant enough to give anyone the STD from hell. There are countless neat touches and all of them made us chuckle. One of our favourites is when you mutate into a leg-dragging, cadaver after an intimate encounter with the walking dead.
And now, the rough part. You'll see pretty much all the game has to offer within two hours (something made all the easier using the old-skool infinite continues) although there are multiple routes through each level. There's also a couple of bonus minigames, the best of which sees you trying to outsize the Waller by consuming food the guards drop. Then there's the two-player co-op mode and the challenge of finishing the game as quickly as possible.
Of course it all comes down to personal taste. If you like action games rammed full of realism that will take a month of Sundays to complete, then this bites the fat one. However, if you like a laugh and can cope with the 2D graphics and 'Continue?'-based brevity, then give it a go. You might just remember what games should be like. Respect your elders, and respect the games of yore. There's little else like this on PS2, and for a mere 20 quid it's cash well spent.
Metal Slug 3 is out now for PS2