Metal Slug Anthology PS2 Review

Cult classic Metal Slug celebrates its 10th anniversary this year with the release of some rather tasty compilations, providing fans of the series with a tasty little package consisting of all six previous Metal Slug games and the all new Metal Slug 6, all for the tidy price of £15. Some of you may recall the release earlier this year of the same compilation on the Nintendo Wii, which whilst looking delicious on paper was sadly plagued by unwelcome tacked-on motion control schemes…

Chances are if you’re a Metal Slug fan who was disappointed by the Wii compilation then news of this PS2 version will have brought a smile to your face – and quite rightly!
This compilation doesn’t do anything special: The menus are charmless and clinical, the extras are passable, and the whole package is mashed together with the presentational panache you’d expect from a three year old wielding a pritt-stick. But that’s just fine, because behind all that you’ve got a perfect conversion of every Metal Slug ever made, which you can play through using a PROPER pad. Taking the price into account at this point too, it’s hard to find anything else worth saying about this title, as quite frankly – it sells itself.

For those unfamiliar with the Metal Slug series, (whoever the hell these people might be…) the franchise is essentially regarded as being the godfather of hardcore arcade schmups, combining a rough difficulty curve with visuals that after 10 years still ooze charisma. Metal Slug’s killer-hook was the painstaking attention to detail seen in the game, the images used as backdrops for each level are beautifully crafted, and every animation within the game lives up to the namesake. Few games even come close to the feat achieved by Metal Slug – all the action on screen being drawn frame-by-frame, creating a moving canvas of pixels that still looks fantastic ten years on. The only thing that’s aged badly in terms of presentation in Metal Slug is the resolution, the quality and ingenuity of the animation throughout is remarkable and forms the foundation for the vein of sharp, quirky cartoon-like humour which runs consistently through the series. Admittedly the music used in the game has aged awfully, but the notability of this is, if anything, only a reflection of how high the standard of graphical polish is by comparison.

Whilst some of the Slugs included in the package are essentially rehashed versions of earlier Metal Slug titles, you’re still looking at a hell of a lot of content for your cash. Even the new Metal Slug 6 is pretty damn good, mashing up styles from all of the earlier prequels with the addition of new mechanics such as weapon swapping and alternative melee attacks which add a little more strategy to the formula which, whilst being unappreciated by all-thumb freaks like myself, will likely be a exciting prospect for anyone who’s a veteran of the Slug.

There’s little to say about this particular celebratory compilation that you won’t find written on the back of the box; it’s a perfect conversion of every Metal Slug game ever made on one disc, with the brand-spanking-new 6 included in case you needed an extra reason to pick up this excellent little package. If you’re a fan of Metal Slug, if you’ve spent years getting an earful off an older generation of arcade frequenters because you’ve not played the series properly, or if you just fancy having a pop to see what all the fuss is about, then this is quite simply a title you can’t afford to miss. A cult gaming package that’s hard to best at a price that’s painfully reasonable – what more can you ask for?

Those of you who’ve been waiting for the right time to give Metal Slug a pop; this is it.

8.5 out of 10

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