Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Metal Slug Defense is a 2D, real time, side-scrolling strategy game based on the popular arcade shooter series. Although not the typical Metal Slug experience, Metal Slug Defense does a pretty great job of translating the charm and spirit of its predecessors into a mobile and more strategic form.
In more typical Metal Slug titles, players take control of an individual soldier as they run, gun, and jump their way through 2D levels full of enemy soldiers and creatures. In Metal Slug Defense, players instead take control of a base that is capable of spitting out soldier after soldier, with the ultimate goal being to destroy the enemy base on the other side of the level.
Because players are managing armies in Metal Slug Defense, direct control of any individual soldier is limited to triggering special abilities so as not to be overwhelming. By tapping any individual unit that is glowing blue, players can have their grunts throw grenades or have engineers build barricades, all of which can make or break the outcome of a given battle. As players win, they can unlock more units that can then be used in subsequent battles.
Despite the base mechanics sounding almost nothing like previous Metal Slug games, Metal Slug Defense does an exceptional job at capturing the feel of the franchise. The lovingly-crafted sprites, music, and all-around goofiness are in full effect in this game, and there are constant nods to more minor aspects of the Metal Slug universe sprinkled throughout the menus.
The only real downsides to Metal Slug Defense come as the result of a combination of poor explanation and a not fully satisfactory free-to-play model. Although the game seems perfectly playable in its 100% free form, the ways players earn the multiple forms of currency are buried in the game's menus and some of the skills-based ways to earn upgrades are so poorly explained that earning them feels random. Fortunately, some of this frustration can be mitigated by jumping into Metal Slug Defense's multiplayer mode, which is a very straightforward and well-executed mode that counterbalances a singleplayer mode that might otherwise just feel like a slog at times.
Overall, Metal Slug Defense is worth sinking some time into. The game embodies most of what makes older Metal Slugs stand out as unique shooters, while also being a different game altogether. If Metal Slug Defense didn't feel like a well-balanced strategy experience, I might still recommend it because of its dedication to crafting the Metal Slug experience into a strategy game. Luckily though, it actually feels like a worthwhile strategy game in its own right - and just so happens to be dripping with all of the things that Metal Slug fans associate with the series.