Metal Slug XX is a game we've actually already reviewed for our Beyond Co-Op feature, except at the time it was called Metal Slug 7 and was on the Nintendo DS. While we enjoyed the original title, our number one complaint was lack of co-op play, something that has been a staple of the Metal Slug series for sometime now. Metal Slug XX adds in the co-op, both local and online, as well as smoothing out the graphics for hi-definition displays.
Metal Slug XX offers 6 playable characters, each with their own unique special abilities or passive abilities. For instance Tamra can carry double the amount of cannon shells while Ralf is twice as fast as the other characters and has a super move. The variance in play styles of the characters not only gives the game some replayability, but also lends itself to some strategy in the game's co-op mode. A good example is having one player control Eri who carries extra grenades and another control Marco who packs extra bullet power, which lends itself to a nice balance of heavy damage attacks and bullet cover fire.
The game offers a stretch screen mode for widescreen displays.
Like the DS version of Metal Slug 7, the game offers seven different levels to play through each with their own unique style of hand drawn backgrounds and POWs to rescue. There's some semblance of a story that's played out through animations, something about an evil dictator who opens a portal to the future - at least - that's my take on it. Each level is capped off with a giant boss battle of varying degrees of difficulty. Along the way you'll find various weapons like rocket launchers, electric guns, and flame throwers to dispatch of the overly animated bad guys. Most would classify the game as a "bullet hell" style shooter, though patterns don't come into play so much as one hit one kills.
Along the way you'll rescue POWs which drop special items for you to use. After rescuing a POW you'll need to make it to the end of the level without dying to get the bonus points as well as credit on your stat sheet. The levels also offer a few different paths, something that's unique to most games of similar style.
What sets Metal Slug games apart from other side scrolling shooters is the ability to get into and control vehicles. Metal Slug XX is no different with some of the best vehicles of the series, including a gigantic robot battle. One problem with the co-op of the game are these vehicle sections are limited to one player, so while one of the players are enjoying the time of their life destroying everything in their path with a laser shooting mech, the other player is stuck on the ground to mop up the table scraps. It's a minor gripe, but it could cause some animosity amongst players.
All in all Metal Slug XX is still the best of the series, with the addition of co-op it becomes a great pick up and play title with friends, despite the brutal difficulty. Unlimited continues are your friend. Hand drawn graphics are almost non-existent anymore, and the little attention to detail that Metal Slug games offer are a nice respite. The game is also available on the PSP for an MSRP of $20, so while the $15 price tag might seem steep for XBLA owners, you are getting a bit of a download discount. Still I think at the current price only fans of the series will want to pick it up for co-op action, otherwise wait for a sale to snag it.
The Co-Op Experience: Team up with a friend, each choosing a character through this side scrolling shooter.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.