Bringing the old-school formula of the side-scrolling Metroid back to the living room. Probably the best XBLA game.

User Rating: 8.5 | Shadow Complex X360
In 1994, Super Metroid perfected the 2D side-scrolling formula. It is considered by many people to be one of the best games of all time. So when Chair and Epic announced this game at E3 and marketed it as the "spiritual successor" to Super Metroid, it was understandable why people were so excited for it. In short, they have succeeded in creating a great game, which feels fresh and revitalising for any action side scrolling fan.

So when you start the game, you'll have a very short tutorial as a soldier with a fully equipped suit to give you a taste of what's to come, after that you start the games adventure. You're in the forest, hiking with your girlfriend, she goes way ahead, you can't find it, yada yada, you find her backpack only then go searching after her. You soon find she's been taken by some sort of soldiers or enemy. Not much to be said here.

The first thing you'll notice is how well it all controls, jumping and running around feels really smooth and rewarding, the animations are pretty good, and later in the game when you unlock more things you'll be pulling off some cool moves.

You move using the left analogue stick, the aiming is done with the right analogue stick and gives you a 360-degree angle, and you shoot with the right trigger. Very intuitive, easy to pick up, but sometimes when there are a lot of enemies on screen it doesn't always aim where you'd like it to because it uses a subtle lock on feature when you point towards an enemy, sometimes it will aim at an unreachable enemy (other side of wall or something), other times it aims at explosive barrels which take times to blow up which kills valuable time and puts you in the firing line, and you can easily die in this game when playing on a harder difficulty. You really have to use cover, and it's very well implemented. You can grab onto ledges, aim and shoot, and it feels good to hand off a ledge out of the line of fire but being able to pop some enemy heads.

the weapons are cool and vary up the game play, such as the foam gun which can create cover from guns, but gets destroyed by explosive weapons. You can put up some foam and stick a grenade in it, very fun to freeze guys with foam, then stick them. You also get some more which I won't spoil, but the guns are also very nice and as you play you'll start with a pistol which is bad at the beginning but as your character levels up, his precision, stamina, and accuracy are improved, and you'll soon be popping heads with it. Later you get machine guns and other cool, more powerful guns.

The environments are well laid out, and offer some interesting puzzle elements, the game is not paced out as well as it could be. There is a long "dry" spell between getting grenades, and the next big weapon. You do then unlock the running boots which allows you to run at super fast speeds and destroy certain objects, revealing more of the environment to explore, but after the boots all weapons/items start rolling in, which is why it feels badly paced.

You unlock more ammo for your items, for e.g. grenades, by finding grenade packs all around the huge world, and you find these for all the other stuff you collect. You also have things like Gold bars which unlock special weapons, and Passkeys which allows you to then access a part of armour you will need to get a fully armoured suit.

Graphically speaking, this game looks superb for an Xbox Live Arcade game, and is the best looking in that respect. It uses Unreal Engine 3, but there's always a bit of me which thinks it could look a bit better in some cases, such as the textures. the game also runs smoothly for the most part, some weird changes between one environment to another are a bit weird, and the game doesn't seem well made for a 4:3 TV as it sometimes seems you can't see some of what you should see when enemies are shooting at you, and you may end up shooting blindly in large environments.

Not much to say about the enemies, you have the standard dude with machine gun, dudes with pistol, big dude with shield and missiles, dude with shield and turret gun, dude with hook shot and grenade (I hate these). There are bosses in the game, if you call them that, most of them just seem like bigger enemies which take more hits to kill, and not actually bosses. They are usually robots or some type of mechanical thing, which is a bit of a let down.

The sound in this game is good, lacks music in most areas, and there isn't much around, but the atmosphere is set with the superb background effects. Now this game is compared to Super Metroid a lot, but the music is not as good, and could have done with a bit more to set the atmosphere in some areas.

This is an old-school game, sticks close to the formula, the developers said after the first play through they would like people to exploit the game, to find shortcuts, etc. But too many times you can become hampered by exploiting it, which makes me think if they did actually think about this or just said they would. It is very sad to find a cool shortcut to one thing but then something else frustrating happens. I don't want to say much because I don't want to spoil your experience. The ending felt abrupt, and the ending boss also felt a bit easy, and the story seemed far fetched.

There is another game mode, Proving Grounds which just gives you various challenges featuring abilities and weapons from the game. Starts off easily but gets challenging after a while, and just adds more value to the game.

Overall, besides the flaws, the gameplay makes, superb graphics, and cool weapons and armour upgrades, great explorations in a huge world, all make up for it. You should without a doubt get this game, it has a lot of value and single player took me 8 hours in my first play through (getting all items), I have replayed it 2 more times for different reasons, and the game only costs $15, or 1200pts! Worth every bit.

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