Metal Slug 3 is a Run & Gun game and the point in where the series completely threw any sense of realism out the window in order to allow you to fight yetis, zombies and whatever the devs could jam in there. The second game delved into the supernatural a bit with the introduction of mummies and mutants though human soldiers were still your primary foes. In this third entry, you start off fighting giant crabs on the shores of a beach, and it only gets weirder from there with human enemies taking a bit of a back seat. To complement this insanity, Metal Slug 3 is far more difficult than previous games and will have you pumping in credits at a rate that would likely leave a sizable dent in your wallet if we were to play this at the Arcades.
As we make our way across the beach blasting those crabs, we will soon come across this title’s best new feature, the ability to pick your route that will branch of into unique scenarios before merging back to the main level. You may find yourself in very odd places, and it does a ton to make you want to replay it again to see what else the game has to offer. Another new addition are the sections in where you are flying or underwater be it via jetpack or scuba gear that play more like a Shmup than your typical Run & Gun. Even if you die during these, you will respawn with your gear intact to continue the flight. You are typically given a vehicle of some sorts at the start to motivate you to stay alive as long as possible.
While on the ground, it is the same Metal Slug formula we’ve come to know and love involving tons of shooting, a small stock of grenades for armored foes and touching enemies does not harm you like most other games of the genre. Minus the addition of having branching paths and the pseudo shmup sections, the only other new feature that affects the gameplay are the ton of new vehicles. From a Gurren Lagann like drilling machine, a Mammoth with plasma cannons attached to it and even a spacecraft to take the fight to absurd levels. You only take a single hit to go down but while in a vehicle you can take up to three before being forced to eject and continue the battle on foot.
Before starting the game, you can pick one of four difficulty modes ranging from Easy to Very Hard. Whichever you choose will still provide you with more than enough challenge, but you may also choose how many credits to have, that allows you to continue again once you lose all your lives. The quantities you may pick are 20, 10, 5 or infinite credits to complete the game with. There are only five levels this time around compared to the six of previous titles however the final mission is far longer than any other. It is an ending that keeps on giving and as soon as you think it’s finished, it continues on, getting progressively weirder with each passing moment. The entire game is bizarre, but the last level is truly something that everyone should witness and/or experience.
In total, you can pick one of four characters which all play exactly the same with their only difference being visually. The graphics are still detailed and appealing to look at to this day with tons of stuff happening at any one time. While there are only five levels the fact that you can take different paths that lead to their own scenarios allows them to put much variety into their environments. One moment you will be fighting zombies in a bleak landscape while the next you’ll find yourself in an icy cave shooting down yetis. The animations of the series is still top notch with all the little details that lend it life that we have come to expect from Metal Slug.
This Steam version allows for online coop, but it is sadly barely functional with the entire game running at around 15fps and frequently hitching. Thankfully single player works fine though do not buy it for the sole fact that you can play with a friend online. With all the technical stuff out of the way, this is arguably one of the best games of the entire series and is the last Metal Slug developed before SNK went bankrupt and bought out by Aruze, best known for their panchinko machines. They went all out in this title to the point where one has no idea what is going on anymore and just accepts the none stop madness. If you are up to the challenge, this is a title well worth your time.