Sunday, May 4, 2014

Metal Slug Defense: Impressions, Tips and Links (Added Android Central Top 10 Trips and Tricks link)

Latest Update impressions in new post.

Metal Slug Defense is not a card game but has some reference to it in the form of using "deck" to hold the types of troops you deploy. It is described as a tower-defense/strategy game and if you played Cartoon Wars, it is something similar. You need to wait for AP to build up before you can summon your troops. The novelty is that each troop has a special move that can affect the battle.

The difficulty is higher than Plants Vs Zombie and I find the special moves as well as a super move where you called upon the "Metal Slug" tank to bulldoze through the stage to be necessary a few times. However, once you clear a stage, you just have to basically remember the order which you summon your troops in order to win again. I guess that is why the double-speed option is there in the game. You are also encouraged to replay stages in order to save prisoner-of-war (POW) to improve your abilities but it can get "grindy".

The graphics and sounds are very nice and will please fans of Metal Slug. I played a bit of those games and this defense version looks and sounds exactly like it. The UI is also done well and the game has the controls designed for touchscreen where everything is just a tap away. However, I do have slight issues  with the screen scrolling instead of activating a power or activating a wrong power when the troops get too close. As the difficulty increases, it does become just a crazy tap-all-you-can-fest.

There is IAP but it doesn't seem entirely necessary which is great as I'm progressing fine so far. I prefer this design for Free-to-play (F2P) games as people will instead show support by buying the IAP instead of having to do so to get past a "paywall". Interestingly, according to people from the Touch Arcade forum game thread, the game also uses daily events and daily login rewards but do not enforce it over a server; it is "controlled" individually per game so you can technically change the device's clock or date to get them. However, it messes up your current base stats, etc. A constant Internet connection is not required and there are no cloud or server saves so if you delete your game, the progress and purchases (I suppose?) are gone. Buyer beware! (Update: I figured out how to make a backup of your game to transfer your progress between devices for iOS. You need a program like iTools or iExplorer to browse your device directory. Your saved data is the entire App's "Documents" folder. I successfully transferred mine by replacing that folder on another device. Not too sure about Android though, but it might be something similar. Note: There is a store kit folder as well so IAP purchasers might want to copy those as well? The above steps are strictly for backup and transferring of game progress, your game progress will not sync between devices. Note#2: Be wary of app updates too which might or might not break the game save)

The other peculiar game design is that the rewards (other than POW) for each stage replayed is the same. It usually "tapers" off for most games but not in this game. You get the same amount of points for subsequent clears which is a lot. (source) On one hand, it makes grinding faster and as you basically use the same strategy most of the time, it does get boring fast. You basically need to do it to improve your base and troop stats though.

The game is out for both iOS and Android and is free so it's definitely worth a try, just be aware of the game design listed. Overall, I find the game enjoyable although it can get a bit repetitive fast even with more troops unlock; there is always multiplayer too if you get bored of the campaign or grinding. (Edit: Reports from the Touch Arcade forum is that there is no proper match-making algorithm to match equally "powered" players. However, I tried a few matches and it seem pretty even. The online matches are named rank other than friend matches so I think there should be some algorithm at work.) Update 21/05/2014: Version 1.0.1 fixes the "issue" of people quitting in PvP to escape a loss by allowing the match to continue which will effectively award the victory accordingly. This is great as PvP is the endgame when you've completed everything else and this fix will definitely help to extend the gameplay longevity.

iOS App Store link
Google play link

Tips and links:
- Many good tips from ChaosProdigy from the forum, must-read: link.

- Lots of game information from the official site help section like how Sortie points regens 1 point per minute and how you can only send 50 units simultaneously at a time.

- More tips, decks and deployment strategies are constantly shared by the players over at the Touch Arcade forum thread so it's worth checking every once in a while.

Link to the Metal Slug Wiki for the characters' name and sprite.

- Metal Slug Defense Unlockable Units Stats post

- *New* Top 10 Tips and Tricks from Android Central


- Sortie Points - The stamina equivalent of most Free 2 Play games

- MSP Points - In-game currency

- Medals - Premium IAP currency


My Tips
- The difficulty of a stage seems to apply only according to that Area and not overall game difficulty. Emergency Area stages which spawn at 12 noon for 1 hour has an easy labelled for first stage but it is difficult for a beginner like me.

- Each new day starts at 12 midnight.

- You will unlock more units to buy from shop as well as more free units that goes into your deck; mainly the Metal Slug main characters. I like to use the first tutorial stage to test them out before using even though you can get their description from the Unit Customization screens.

- I think the movement speed of the troops are important to take note of; you probably want high HP troops to move in front to protect and soak up damage.

- Online PvP matches do time out with the winner going to the one who deals the most damage to opponent's base.

- For those of you who are unaware, when you view the troops at the customization or shop screen, their descriptions have a "second" page when you tap on them. The second page provides more useful information on them.

- Not exactly a tip but completing World 1 unlocks an ending sequence as well as update the title screen with a little girl at the bottom left corner. Metal Slug fans might be able to identify the girl if it is some sort of reference to the game...

- It should be possible to complete the game without spending any medals; just keep upgrading everything you have to max which should take a while and you can hoard your medals until you unlock everything in shop before deciding what to buy.


MSP points earning
- Early game: Keep grinding the first tutorial stage while upgrading Sortie Level and MPS Gain Level.

- Mid game: Once you have enough Sortie points (max from customization preferably), I think it is better to go on to clearing stages and repeating stages for POW release before you get bored of too much repetition.


POW rescue (Gets its own section because a frequently asked question)

POW rescue success seems (is?) random. There is a little debate going on at the Touch Arcade forum whether it is true. I think it is worth trying to use less troops to clear a stage; if you are winning, stop spamming more and see if it makes a difference. 

Update#1: I found this source that mentions the POW are found in the stage so you need to send a soldier to free them? Source: Modojo link. I personally never noticed this and recently rescued one without finding any in the stage...

Update#2: Here are some of the things I did which seems to get a POW release when I first try it at the stage:
- Using as few troops as possible to clear the stage a.k.a not putting out more troops when you are already stacked up with troops outside enemy base
- Not using any Metal Slug attack to clear the stage
- Not using any secondary special attacks to clear the stage
Even if the above are true, there are some stages with more than 2 POW so each stage probably has quite a few "special conditions".

Update#3: It's probably just random... I think it would have been cool if it was specific conditions to release POW but using random, the game designers can make us replay the stages multiple times, just like how in Puzzle and Dragon, the randomness keep us grinding for a while.


POW rescue Priorities IMO
1) Area 11 for Sortie points increase (Note: If you don't intend to play a lot in one sitting, might want to swap priority to Area 4 first for MSP reward increase to maximise each playtime)
2) Area 4 for MSP reward increase
3) Area 7 for increase of overall unit's HP (higher priority because not available in Home customization options)
4) Area 8 for increase of overall unit's Attack (higher priority because not available in Home customization options)
5) Area 1 for AP rise speed
6) Area 3 for Unit production rate increase
7) Area 6 for AP gain from enemy defeated increase
8) Area 10 for Metal Slug Recharge
9) Area 9 for Metal Slug Attack power
10) Others (Area 5 for Increasing HP of base will be high priority if you PvP a lot)

- Alternatively, rescuing 1 POW from each stage will unlock the bonus ability (with the exception of the ones unlocking new units, which in those cases you have to rescue all) so you can aim to do that first to get partial bonus.

Emergency Area
POW rescue from Area 12 onwards grant new units and are hidden Area 13 is from the Emergency Area at noon while 14 and beyond are unknown for me so far. World 2 seems to be is most likely a repeat of the same rewards for POW rescue but I hadn't compare yet based on the first few stages.

Update#1: I completed the first Emergency Area and the next one released at 6pm and lasted for an hour like the first one. Once you rescued all the POW of that Emergency Area, it will remain on your map permanently. Third one appeared at 10pm. maybe one appears every 2 hours

Sometimes, you need to exit the World Map and re-enter for the Emergency Area to show up if you are within the Emergency Time Period. Note: I notice sometimes a new Emergency Area do not appear during the Emergency timings although you cleared the previous one if you leave the game in the World Map screen before you minimise. It is therefore better to always leave the World Map when you finish playing.

Update#2: I notice there is an item that guarantees 100% release of a POW (radar, if I'm not wrong). I haven't used any but it will most likely be most efficient to use on Emergency Areas. World 2's Emergency Areas seem harder to get POW for me so far.


Customization Priorities
- My Customization priorities, Home > Unit. Home base improvements first as like POW effects, it benefits your overall gameplay.

1) Alternate upgrading Sortie Level and MSP Gain Level
2) Alternate AP Gain Level and Troops Respawn Speed Level
3) AP Gain from Enemy Troop Level
4) Alternate Metal Slug Recharge and Metal Slug Attack power
5) Others (Increasing HP of base will be high priority if you PvP a lot)

- Hold back onto Unit customization until you unlock as many as possible for a better choice. I had to upgrade my existing troops in order to continue clearing levels for Area 10's stage 3.


Deck & Order of Deployment
- My order of deployment currently in the early game using all the "standard issued" troops: Soldier / Sandbag / Marco / Tarma / Eri / Fio / SV-001.

AP gain > Sandbag > Marco > as many Soldiers until the other cool-downs are up > anything that is available except Soldiers from this point on.

It's basically a tap-fest after the Soldiers which is just to stall till all the >60 AP troops are up; you tap everything that is available including special attacks but you want to watch for certain timings like if there is a canon attack coming or you want to ensure that the sandbags get put down successfully. It has worked for me so far and I am at the Area 6. Some easy stages can be cleared with just the soldier rush.

I prefer sending out long range attackers like the ladies, Eri and Fio, and only use short range spread troops like Tarma when there are a bunch of enemy troops clump up.

- Area 8 Stage 1 AI seems to be using a fast soldier troops rush with tanks. Above deployment no longer works for me.

- Area 8 onwards and harder stages deployment: AP Gain > AP Gain > Sandbag > Marco > Tarma > >60AP characters and AP Gain, whichever is up. I find that landing a proper hit with Tarma's special is crucial to prevent overrun and the above deployment allows for more enemies to build up or if the enemy does not, your AP Gain is up to a suitable level to help with the >60AP characters deployment. I completely skip the soldier at this point.

- Currently stuck at Area 10 Stage 3 with above deployment strategy. Might be time to upgrade troops as what bigghurt suggested from the Touch Arcade forum thread, or turn to the shop for new troops. Update#1: I maxed out the 4 main characters, Marco, Tarma, Eri and Fio and were able to clear the stage using same deployment. I'm now maxing out the SV-001 tank. Upgrading your troops seem to only increase their HP and that leads to being able to fire off their special attack more often and also to live long enough to even fire off once.

- Against AI, I find it possible to keep increasing AP Gain until their troops start getting near before putting down the sandbag. I then slow deploy the Metal Slug Main characters one after the other (from increasing AP cost) till the SV-001 before starting over from Marco while increasing AP Gain whenever the troops are at cool-down.

- The Touch Arcade forum thread was discussing about good units and it seem that troops which have fast movement speed are favourites: Drill Slug, SV-001 Type-R, Tarma, Ostrich slug, etc...

Update#2: - I have not bough a single troop at the shop and now have Ostrich Slug (from daily login), Di-Cokka, SV Camel and 3-Ton Truck unlocked. I am able to play till the final Area of World 2 without any problem, maxing Ostrich Slug, Tarma, Di-Cokka and the 2 ladies, Eri and Fio. I find 3-Ton Truck and soldier to be not very useful so I kept it at level 1. Marco, Sandbag and SV-001 were upgraded to level 10 to help get through World 1.

Standard Deployment: AP Gain twice (unless they enemy is still far, you can keep upgrading until they are getting nearer)>Sandbag>Marco>Tarma>Eri>Fio>Ostrich>Camel>Di-Cokka>AP Gain>SV-001>restart from Ostrich.

I currently build my deck with troops with different AP cost at each value and try not to have overlapping ones, while always increase from low AP cost to high AP cost. After unlocking all the free troops, I will probably spend my medals to fill up gaps in the deck.

With the above build, I can't get pass the first stage of final Area of World 2. That stage is a very short map.

Update#2: I managed to get pass the final Area of World 2 and also completed the game after replacing Marco with a maxed leveled Abul Abbas from World 2's first Emergency Area.

- If you can get the timing correct, you can use the special attack of a troop to avoid getting hit from over-head projectiles as triggering the special will cause your troop to pause.

Update#3: I manage to complete all A.I. stages including all the Emergency ones with the given troops. Abul Abba, Allen O' Neil and Zombie Marco are very strong "free" troops you can unlock. It seems like there is really no need to spend medals to get new troops other than for PvP.


How to backup your game and transfer between devices (iOS)
You can backup your game progress for iOS by using a program like iTools or iExplorer to browse your device directory. Your saved data is the app's entire "Documents" folder. I successfully transferred my progress by replacing that folder on another device. Not too sure about Android though, but it might be something similar.

Note#1: There is a store kit folder as well so IAP purchasers might want to copy those as well? The above steps are strictly for backup and transferring of game progress, your game progress will not sync between devices.

Note#2: Be wary of app updates too which might or might not break the game save