How to do it right eh? Obviously that question only applies to the people who’ve played the game. This weekend I was completely addicted and revitalised to the whole Metroidverse (if it should even be called that). A place I haven’t been for quite some time, well not in the strictest definition of the word I haven’t. For those of you who don’t know or can’t be bothered to find out, the name takes it’s origin from the original style of Metroid games – a 2D side scrolling platform adventure which requires you to progress by upgrading your abilities and backtracking to reach previously unreachable places with those upgrades. Metroid games in the past have always been incredibly good at keeping the backtracking from being tedious, and there was a lot of expectation on my behalf for EPIC games to get it right with Shadow Complex. And I’m glad to say they did.
Why I think you should get this game: Quite simply it is the best game yet to be released on the Xbox Live Arcade. I spent over 9 hours playing it on my first playthrough (although I did get 100% of the items and the map discovered) – and that’s probably the most time I’ve spent playing all of my other XBLA games combined. The story is action based/arcade-y (note to other reviewers: AS IT SHOULD BE – IT’S ON XBOX LIVE *ARCADE*), has a lot of plot holes, but is generally good enough to warrant the only small thing on your mind when playing it – why is this base here?
The thing that should take up most of your brain processing power when you’re playing it is the gameplay, and for that it must include the graphics and the layout of the game as a whole, because the map and the objectives work with the combat and the action to deliver the entire experience. It’s fun trying to work out which route you’re going to take, and remembering how different rooms look. Towards the end of the game when it feels like you really can go anywhere you want, the controls really come into their own, and for me especially, makes you feel naturally awesome at playing the game – bust into a room and let all hell break loose, jumping to dodge bullets, shooting enemies in the distance and beating the crap out of the guy in front of you, only to notice that one of your stray bullets has hit an explosive can going off, throwing a dude right the way across the map. Most reviews I’ve read of the game ‘only have one criticism’ and that is that the auto aiming control for enemies in the third dimension is a bit flaky. I agree it is, but it’s not a criticism in the slightest, because it doesn’t happen at all that often, and when it does it’s easily resolved by just moving a bit (I found it very hard to keep still whilst playing).
From start to finish it was amazing because it felt very fluid, responsive and downright fun to play, which is the most important aspect of a game. Not to mention that it was the best anyone could have done to pay homage to Nintendo’s masterpieces (and also a nod to a few other games, namely Metal Gear Solid) – if you haven’t done already, at least pay some respect and try out the demo!