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Metal Slug: Awakening
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Pays homage to the series' legacy, while adding mobile game elements | Review: Metal Slug: Awakening

Pays homage to the series' legacy, while adding mobile game elements | Review: Metal Slug: Awakening

2K View2023-08-23
Metal Slug: Awakening, the latest addition to the iconic Metal Slug series, has just made its debut, and it's a game that's sure to catch the attention of fans and newcomers alike. Developed with an official blessing from SNK, this title stays true to the core formula that has made the Metal Slug series a beloved classic among gamers.
🟩Pros
+Preserves the classic side-scrolling shooter Metal Slug gameplay
+Revitalized graphics
+Plethora of game modes and side missions to do
+Accessible touch controls (featuring auto-target)
+Social interaction features
🟥Cons
-Progression is now tied to its F2P aspect
-Performance issues and lack of graphical settings
Metal Slug: Awakening preserves the classic side-scrolling shooter gameplay that the Metal Slug series is known for. In the game, players take on the role of various characters, including familiar faces like Marco Rossi, Eri Kasamoto, Tarma Roving, and Fio Germi, each with their own unique abilities and playstyles. As players progress through the game, they traverse different locations looking for the four magical gems to defeat the powerful evil Pharaoh.
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The controls have been designed for ease of use and adapted for touch controls in this iteration. The left touch stick is used for movement, while buttons are provided for jumping, utilizing abilities, and switching between characters. Players also have the choice to utilize the auto-target feature, so they wouldn’t have to aim manually on enemies. This is super useful especially for beginners, though it does sacrifice the flexibility that comes with manual aiming. However, players can regain manual control anytime by simply dragging the fire button around.
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The game continues to feature a diverse array of weapons, From conventional weapons like machine guns and flamethrowers, to even more outlandish contraptions like ice and boxing glove guns, the weaponry selection adds a layer of unpredictability and fun to the intense battles.
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Of course, it wouldn't be a true Metal Slug experience without the iconic drop-in drop-out vehicles that the series is known for. Metal Slug: Awakening faithfully continues this with a variety of vehicles, including tanks, jetpacks, planes, mechs, or even animals like camels, that offer different gameplay mechanics and strategies. These vehicles not only provide players with a means to traverse the levels but also serve as powerful tools for dealing with enemies and obstacles.
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I was pleased to see the way Metal Slug: Awakening retains the essence of the franchise while infusing it with modern graphical improvements. The glow-up to three-dimensional graphics while maintaining the classic side-view perspective is a refreshing approach that revitalizes the series' visual identity.
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The character models maintain their chibi-like proportions for the majority of the gameplay, which is a nostalgic nod to the series' origins, but the detailed 3D renderings in menus and cutscenes are visually stunning, I wish they used them a bit more for the actual gameplay. However, I did encounter some frame drops with my Snapdragon 888 phone, even when I turned down the settings, there is only a singular graphical option in the settings, without an option to set the FPS limit of the game. I hope the developers can optimize the game further post-release.
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Players can start missions by selecting a roster of three characters, with their own customizable and upgradable weapons and gear. Players have the ability to swap and tag between these heroes, strategically adapting to different situations and enemy types. This dynamic system adds depth to the gameplay and encourages experimentation. The levels are well-designed and just in line for what I would expect on a Metal Slug game, featuring a mix of ordinary enemies and challenging bosses, each requiring a unique approach to defeat.
Players can engage in the main story, complete with an original story, while also diving into various side game modes like ‘Flashback Mode’ and ‘Arcade Carnival’.’There is even a roguelite-esque ‘Hot Pursuit” mode, where players make randomized upgrades as they progress, keeping each playthrough fresh and distinct from the main story.  The game also offers the opportunity to engage in PvP battles through the Arena, or team-up with friends for those who prefer collaborative gameplay, just like the cooperative nature of the classic titles.
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Since Metal Slug: Awakening has adopted a free-to-play model, it comes at a literal cost. The incorporation of gacha mechanics, an energy/stamina system to limit play, and in-game purchases for weapons, gear, and cosmetics might be a double-edged sword for players. While this model allows for wider accessibility, it can also potentially impact the overall gaming experience, as now progression is heavily tied to character and weapon power. Requiring upgrades, and in turn grinding, or paying for it.
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Conclusion:
I can confidently say that Metal Slug: Awakening manages to capture the essence of what makes this franchise special, albeit infusing it with a twist that reflects the dynamics of the mobile gaming scene. With its fun run-and-gun gameplay, evolved graphics, and mix of nostalgic elements and a bunch of game modes, it's a title that pays homage to the series' legacy while embracing the current state of mobile gaming.
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