Metal Slug Double X (Playstation 4 Review)

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Also, if it ain’t dead, keep shooting it.” That’s pretty much the ethos that the Metal Slug series has lived by for over 20 years. The lovably ludicrous shoot ‘em up series has retained the same slick yet grimy 2D visuals and the exhilarating yet mercilessly difficult gameplay since it’s debut on the Neo Geo in the mid-nineties. Although the series has yet to receive a proper sequel in over a decade, SNK have given some consolation to fans with Metal Slug Double X finally getting a PS4 port. Double X is essentially an improved version of Metal Slug 7; which originally debuted on the Nintendo DS, before getting it’s updated incarnation on the PSP two years later as Double X.

The story goes as one might expect for long-time fans; General Morden is up to no good as usual, developing a new mechanised worm-like weapon for his plans of military domination. Marco Rossi and the rest of the our heroes (including the Ikari Warriors team from SNK’s King of Fighters series) thwart the General as per usual. Shortly after, a time portal unexpectedly opens next to Morden, where an army of high-tech soldiers from the future appear and pledge their allegiance to him. Morden wastes no time in re-building his army and declaring war again, and our team of heroes are as quick to respond to this new threat.

Double X plays extremely similar to the previous entries, continuing to use gameplay mechanics that were introduced in Metal Slug 6. The first of these is the weapon stock system, which allows the player to keep to up two weapons (not including the default pistol) and be able to switch to them on fly. The second is the character-specific abilities, for example Marco has increased damage on his pistol, Eri starts off with double the amount of default grenades, and so on. A new face joins the roster of heroes in Double X; Leona Heidern of King Of Fighters fame fighting alongside her teammates Ralf and Clark. Leona has handful of neat specific abilities; having a slight increase in ammo gain for weapons and grenades, increased durability in vehicles, being able to hold on to her weapons after an attack, and being able to perform her Moon Slasher attack, which can deflect projectiles and damage artillery.

There is one new addition to the weapons Double X, which is the Thunder Shot. It sends a highly damaging homing shot of lightning, while striking anything else that it’s in it’s direction. As powerful as it is, you won’t be seeing much of it for that reason. A few new Slug variants are introduced in Double X as well, my personal favourite being the Slug Gigant; which is essentially a giant mech suit. While it’s only appearance is in the penultimate stage, it’s a joy for while it lasts and it leads to probably the boss fight in the game as well.

In terms of new enemies, one naturally might expect the high-tech soldiers to feature here, and while that is the case, they don’t feel fully realised as the could have been. The opportunity for some unseen ideas in the Metal Slug series feel missed here. It’d be refreshing to see a level where our heroes are thrown into the future or the appearance of an Old Man Morden from the future bossing around his present day self to make for some comedy. Metal Slug 2 and 3 executed the introduction of Martians superbly by galvanising on many new ideas for stages and the general story of both games, so it’s a shame it wasn’t replicated in Double X.

Adding in some replayabilty is the Combat School, where you take on individual missions. These are often variations of the main missions which different conditions like a time limit or having no additional weapons. You get graded for each completion of these missions, where you score higher in relation to your grade, and with enough points you will rank up. There is a humorously self-aware “dating-sim” element in the Combat School, as your beautiful but stoic drill instructor will become more impressed and intrigued in you as you rank up.

Being the first in the mainline series to not initially release on a arcade version but rather a handheld; Double X still retains the crisp and fluid 2D visuals that the series is known for. The new original compositions are decent, but the most catchy and exciting themes in Double X are re-arrangements of the classic Metal Slug pieces. Double X is far from being highly innovative or one of the best entries in the series, but it’s still a worthwhile investment for any long-time fan who has yet to try it.

Metal Slug Double X

7.5

Overall

7.5/10

Pros

  • All that’s good about the Metal Slug series
  • Combat School is a solid addition

Cons

  • Fails at realising potential with new enemies and story elements

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