By , on May 7, 2014
Last modified 6 years, 9 months ago

Download on the AppStore
3 out of 5


  • Sprites offer plenty of nostalgia for fans
  • Drawing on the franchises art assets offers a lot of environments


  • Energy system will quickly see you restricted
  • You feel forced to pay if you want to advance at a decent speed
  • Expensive micro transactions


We are pretty sure nobody asked for a free-to-play Metal Slug tower defence game. Now we have one, and it's a pretty, but dull pay-to-win experience.

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When we think Metal Slug, our minds turn to classic arcade side-scroller action. What we don’t think of is the tower defense genre. However, that is precisely the catagory which SNK Playmore's new free-to-play title Metal Slug Defense falls into.

That's not to say that there isn't some crossover between the classic games and this new enterprise. Creating a 2D side-scrolling tower defense title has allowed the developer to lift art straight from previous Metal Slug games. The gorgeous, smoothly animated sprites are instantly familiar to fans, while the franchise's library of detailed backgrounds mean that no two levels ever look alike.

With the art done, you would think that SNK Playmore would find the time to do something special with the gameplay. Unfortunately, this isn't the case. The mundane tower defense combat takes place on a single plane and has you as sending unthinking troops directly towards your opponent. With energy timers controlling troop creation, fights quickly degenerate into a waiting game. Your opponent is doing the same thing, of course, so most of your time is spent watching your troops die in the middle of the map.

Upgrades and different unit types can go some way to limiting the bottleneck created by these timers. These units include the machine gunner Marco, who makes short work of armour, and shotgun unit Tarma who is able to decimate the undead. Unfortunately, however you use these units, you are frequently overpowered by sheer weight of numbers. This quickly removes any sense of skill or satisfaction, making the deciding factor whether your army is leveled up enough.

What Metal Slug Defense really wants you to do is invest in medals, which can be used to buy stronger troop types and purchase upgrades. But, with 30 medals costing 69p / 99c and anything of worth costing around 150 medals, this quickly becomes expensive.

In truth, we're a little sad to see the Metal Slug franchise leveraged as a free-to-play grind-fest. While the gameplay is mindless, our nostalgia for the series could have carried us through if the game delivered any sense of reward. Depressingly, however, Metal Slug Defense’s business model overpowers any chance of fun, leaving a pretty, but dull pay-to-win experience.


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Chesco 6 years, 6 months ago


DarkScience 6 years, 9 months ago

I have been playing this game for a while now, I went on for some time before I hit brick wall. The last stage in level 2 is for the most part impossible with the deck you will likely have by then. You are going to need to level up all characters and buy different stronger units. But they do help you do this for free if you are patient.

You get a daily reward for playing the game, either the in game currency (you get lots of anyway) for levelling up, or the premium currency you need to buy new characters. (which you don't get normally)

So I am currently grinding earning more, levelling everything up - characters, the base speed of reproduction etc. Its getting a bit repetitive but I feel I have to beat that level to see whats next. And it does feel like you get a fair amount of in game currency for replaying the levels, you even have what seems completely random, a chance to release a prisoner when you complete the level. Once you have freed all prisoners for the level you get some kind of bonus - not sure what as I have not managed to free them all yet.

There is a fair bit of on the spot tactical decisions - which kind of unit shall i send next to counter whats attacking, kind of thing!

I am not usually a fan of free games, but I find this much more enjoyable than boom beach for example, I hate timers and the game just felt so slow, this game has actually taken its place on my home screen!

Well hope that helps someone, I actually quite like the game - even considered getting the classic metal slug games but at £2.50 I'm still on the fence! Love the classic style but not sure how good it would be to control on touch screens?