The latest Metal Slug game isn’t exactly what people may expect. Rather than the pixelated run-and-guns people remember, Metal Slug Infinity is an idle game. Players are commanders in charge of iconic (and less memorable) units. Some concepts and elements are familiar, only tweaked to fit within this genre’s realm. There are times when it feels like it is trying to callback to the things fans might now and love, but in a way that might not always be comfortable, considering how the series usually works.
The setup for Metal Slug Infinity is a familiar one. Morden has acquired a Time Slug and is tripping through time. Your job is to act as the commander of the government forces and send people to fight his waves of enemies and bosses, eventually strengthening them enough to reset, regroup, and head back into the fray again with new resources and more permanent upgrades. It is a cyclical affair where you are constantly in this gameplay loop that idle games encourage.
Though, initially, runs in Metal Slug Infinity are anything but idle. You can have up to six soldiers in your troop actively fighting, as well as six slugs. You start out with Marco, then recruit Zombie Marco, Eri, an enemy shielded soldier, a Mars People soldier, and eventually get bits and pieces to unlock other characters, like Eri. When a run begins, everyone is at level one. You have to tap on characters to level them up. (Or, you can press and hold to level them up faster.) Slugs you have access to will automatically appear in the field from time to time, though you could tap a charged one in your dock to warp a few levels further into the run. If a character is in a Slug that is about to fall apart, say the variation of the Donkey Slug, you could tap to abandon ship and send it forward on a kamikaze mission to attack enemies. There are also special skills you can trigger to deal major damage.
The art style is drastically different, but Metal Slug Infinity tries to use familiar faces and Slugs to make people feel at home. Morden is your enemy, as always, leading the rebel forces. Sophia Greenville, who has been a drill instructor and Combat School fixture, is your guide through the game’s tutorials. Prisoners of war appear occasionally on stages, and clicking them gives you a monetary reward. Some of the series’ main characters are given away as starting units for people to use. Familiar Slugs, like the Donkey, Slugnoid, Slug Flyer, and Camel can eventually be acquired (if luck is with you). It is almost like if you can squint, you can see what the goal was and see the passing resemblance, but notice that the same heart isn’t there.
While it is nothing like Metal Slug fans would expect, one thing I will say for Metal Slug Infinity is that it at least has the appropriate sort of premise to make it plausible. Someone has to constantly be sending Marco, Eri, Tarma, and Fio out on missions against Morden. It very likely is a constant struggle. In the run-and-gun games, we are facing waves of enemies and bosses. Plus, the Slugs are all in place and appearing.
It comes across as feeling like some effort was made, even if Metal Slug infinity doesn’t do Metal Slug justice. The idea is there to provide the right kind of “excuse” to make the game work. You’re the commander of the Peregrine Falcons! Morden is doing what Morden does. The characters do look vaguely like themselves. Some familiar elements, like POWs are there. Just the whole idle element is a little off-putting. Those who love the series might still find something to enjoy or want to take a peek to see units like Mummy Fio and Zombie Marco, but everyone else may want to return to a more classic Metal Slug instead.
Metal Slug Infinity is available for Android and Apple iOS devices.