Review: Metal Slug Infinity – a new Metal Slug game on… iOS?
I…just… I don’t know.
I think anyone who grew up on arcade cabinets in Pizza Hut will be familiar with the name Metal Slug. It’s instantly evocative of stunningly lively art, explosive and satisfying action, and intense, grueling difficulty. It’s inspired loads of 2D action games the same way Contra and Mega Man have, and for good reason: Metal Slug games were usually excellent.
Metal Slug Infinity is what happens when you strip all of the gameplay joy out of a Metal Slug game, replace all of the mechanics with economy management, and keep the name and aesthetic. It’s a new, freemium, idle game out on iOS. I had to play it because of the franchise attached to it.
The iPad feature story describes it by saying, “Rather than directly controlling the action, you oversee and upgrade units from the sidelines.”
I was skeptical, but alright, let’s try it
The game opens up with a cinematic about a showdown where some time reactor device gets blown up, creating an infinite loop that our heroes are trapped in. Oddly enough, that’s exactly what playing this game feels like, so it’s thematically on-point.
After the prologue scene, you get dumped into the action, where the usual freemium tutorial takes over, guiding you step by agonizing step through the game.
Primarily, you have exactly two things that you can do:
- Tap unit icons to upgrade units.
- Manage your money generators.
Fundamentally speaking, that’s the entire game
You do this until you feel like you aren’t making progress very quickly, then you hit the Return button to go back in time and start over, at which point all of your unit levels and economy levels are completely reset and you begin again roughly halfway back from the level you reached. The catch is that every Return gives you medals, which you can use to permanently upgrade overarching unit types.
Then you do it again. Progress, return, progress, return, over and over and over again until what exactly?
Honestly, you spend most of the game looking at a screen like the one above, where you’re managing your money generators. Each tap upgrades that generator, which produces the shown amount every time it fires off, an event that happens on a different timer for each generator type. It’s an endless treadmill, buying the next generator, upgrading it, buying the next generator, upgrading it, and so on.
It’s stylistically pretty and possesses all of the aesthetic hallmarks of Metal Slug, but I can’t help but feel like this game was made without the understanding that Cookie Clicker* and Cow Clicker are satire, criticizing the mindless nature of relatively idle, repetitive social games.
Universal Paperclips had a message about the destructive nature of unchecked capitalistic growth. What’s the message here? What’s the point? Metal Slug Infinity is an ouroboros that doesn’t know it’s eating itself.
*If you’ve never played Cookie Clicker, I’m really sorry for including this link and may the universe have mercy on your soul.
Maybe I’m being too hard on this game. Maybe I’m a grumpy old man yelling about a game that’s less of a problem on its own and more of a symptom of what it takes to be financially successful in today’s gaming ecosystem.
Still, no matter what the reason, Metal Slug Infinity is a game that just makes my eyes glaze over and my brain shut off. I can’t stop playing it while it’s on, but then I realize that I’m literally just wasting my life with every moment I spend on it, gaining absolutely nothing of consequence from the experience.
I don’t know how to score this one. Maybe I just don’t understand idle games? Maybe this is the greatest idle game ever and I’m just out of touch? Who knows, dude.
I honestly can’t say I recommend Metal Slug Infinity to anyone, but if “idle game where you barely do anything even when you play” is appealing to you, then you might enjoy what this game has to offer.
Jake reviewed Metal Slug Infinity for free, because it’s a freemium game. He then stared at the ceiling, utterly overcome with existential ennui.
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