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Metal Slug Tactics Preview

Metal Slug Tactics Preview

I have been a fan of the Metal Slug series for a long time; it’s always been a staple in arcades, and I have played it on multiple home consoles. So I was excited to see that there was a new title in the franchise. Metal Slug Tactics is the first tactical RPG to be released in the Metal Slug franchise. There has never been a title in the series that didn’t feature run-and-gun-style gameplay so I had to try it out and see if developer Leikir Studios has been able to take this long-running franchise and successfully make it something completely new in Metal Slug Tactics.

MetalSlugTactics difficulty

General Donald Morden, who you will know from the main series if you have played it, has escaped justice once again and has set all his old friends who were part of the Rebel Army free. To make things worse, he has declared martial law in Sirocco City, which now acts as his base for his latest plans of conquest. In response to the thousands of hostages that are being held, the World Government has once again sent the Metal Slug team to infiltrate the city and take out Morden and his forces.

MetalSlugTactics story2

The team of fighters is made up of the characters you know from the original Metal Slug series: Marco Rossi, Eri Kasamoto, and Fio Germi, with the last, Tarma Roving, to be unlocked later in the game. I am playing the demo, so only the first three are available to select, but that’s okay since your team size is limited to three anyway. Each of these characters has their own unique weapons and special attacks to use in battle, which will change the type of strategy you will use for each of them to be successful.

MetalSlugTactics map

The demo limits your gameplay to the game's first region, the Argun Palm Desert, an arid area with eight distinct mission completion areas. There are different paths that you can take; each stop has various things to earn, like coins that you could spend at the shop or convert into credits, XP, or ammo for your special weapons. Since you can’t go shopping in the demo, I focused more on getting XP to level up my characters and learn new moves. You earn the items by completing the stage's main mission and the listed secondary objectives. You can skip them, but completing them will earn you rewards.

MetalSlugTactics playablearea2

Once you select a stage, Margaret at HQ sends you a transmission that you can either answer or ignore. I don't know why you would ignore it, but the option is there. She informs you about your next mission and what your primary and secondary objectives are. For the stage I am playing, my primary goal is to destroy the three war machines, and the secondary goal is to take out Morden’s low-life friends. You can be given missions like defeating all the enemies on the stage, surviving for a certain number of turns, or escorting someone to the exit before the enemy kills them. The variety of tasks helps keep the game fresh so it doesn’t become repetitive.

MetalSlugTactics transmission2

When you start the stage, the first thing you need to do is decide where each of your team members will begin. You can’t place them in any square on the stage, though; the game limits you to a small area. Once placed, each character has two actions to perform before their turn ends: moving or attacking. You can’t select the same one twice, and I recommend you move your character first if you are planning on it, as attacking first means you can’t change your location after this action. Click on the unit you want to use, and green blocks will appear, showing where they can move on that turn. The more your character moves on a turn, the more resources they will gain, like adrenaline and shields, if you stop on a blue block.

MetalSlugTactics attack

Each of these characters has their own unique weapons and special attacks to use in battle: the first character, Marco, has two weapons available: his primary, which is a handgun with infinite ammo, and a machine gun, which is considered his special weapon. These secondary weapons have a greater range and do more damage to the enemy, but with their ammo being limited, you can’t use them non-stop. All the characters have a passive synchronisation ability. Syncs are automatic attacks; if you deal damage to an enemy within range of another of your character's allies, they will retaliate with their primary weapon, but only once per action. This is very helpful for defeating stage enemies before they get a chance to attack you. Like Marco, Flo also uses a gun, but Emi is a bit of a wildcard; her primary weapon is explosives, which seems cool until your team members are standing too close to the resulting blast, as they will also get hurt. There have been multiple instances where I have accidentally killed my characters because of my poor placement. It’s worth spending the time to ensure you aren’t in the way when Emi decides to attack! Fortunately, you have five credits that you can use to revive fallen characters, but once these are gone, you have no more continues, so you are out of luck once they run out.

MetalSlugTactics sync2

Metal Slug Tactics has a great pixel aesthetic, and the characters are animated so they are always bouncing and never standing perfectly still. A lot of the enemies are duplicates of each other, but this is exactly how it is in the other Metal Slug games. I was more focused on taking them out before they attacked my team. I love that the prisoners that you rescue look exactly like they did in the other games. That long blonde hair hasn’t changed! The music has an Arabian feel to it, which feels like a good fit, given that you are in a desert area. The demo doesn’t have controller support, so you are just playing using your mouse, which works very well, especially for this type of game. It's straightforward to choose the character you want to use and exactly where you want to move them. The trickier part is when you want to scroll across the screen to view the areas of the stage that aren't on the main screen. If you move a character and decide that you want to change the location, there is an undo button you can hit to go back. I used this a lot when I was trying to get all my team members positioned to take advantage of their sync abilities.

MetalSlugTactics base2

My time with Metal Slug Tactics has been a lot of fun, yet incredibly frustrating at the same time. Failing a mission, losing all your progress, and returning to the base to start anew is never enjoyable. However this won’t be as painful when the full game releases, as visiting the base will allow you to purchase new weapons and upgrade your character for your next run. The demo locks these options, leaving you with no choice but to attempt with your current stats and abilities. Metal Slug Tactics is a satisfying and challenging experience that I feel fans of the Metal Slug franchise and people who enjoy strategic tactical games need to check out. I know that I will be picking it up when it releases in Q4 2024!

MetalSlugTactics airstrike

Alana Dunitz

Alana Dunitz

Staff Writer

Lover of all games, old and new!

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