Metroid: Other M is like no Metroid game you've ever played before.
Sure, it may say Nintendo on the box, but with Ninja Gaiden creators Team Ninja providing their high kicking action-oriented expertise, D-Rockets laying on some sublime cut scenes and director Yoshio Sakamoto providing the overall vision, Metroid: Other M is a unique collaboration which promises to be much more than sum of its parts.
Our latest look at Nintendo's Morph-balling heroine takes us deep into one of Other M's many diverse environments. This time we're exploring the biodome, a vegetation-rich setting which supplies the animal matter and food for space farers on deep space missions.
If you haven't been keeping up with the plot details on Other M, here's a quick whirlwind recap. After reporting back to the council after the events of Super Metroid (where she defeated Mother Brain), a disillusioned Samus, loses herself in deep space - until she's drawn by a baby's cry (the nickname for an intergalactic SOS distress signal) to an abandoned Bottle ship out in the far reaches of the galaxy...
Once inside, Samus discovers a unit of Galactic Federation soldiers who've also been drawn there, led by her ex-boss (and mentor-cum-father figure) Adam Malkovich.
Also on board are the remains of some of the Bottle ship's scientists; the corpses marked by a strange green ooze. After one soldier's itchy trigger finger provokes an encounter with a large purple boss monster, Samus helps defeat it, then agrees to help her new comrades in searching for survivors, restoring power to the ship and investigating this deep space mystery.
Welcome to the biodome
Okay season catch up over, let's get down to biodome business. Other M is set to showcase a number of diverse environments as you explore the ruined starship - including a cryosphere (a wintry paradise) a pyrosphere (full of lava-filled volcanoes) and the lush, tropical biosphere.
After the rather sterile greys and blues of the corridors and power plants from the first half hour of the game, this intergalactic arboretum is a mix of jungle greenery and vibrant colour.
Huge trees and overgrown vines snake into the air, cling onto the metallic walkways and, without the supervision of its crew, the local native wildlife has run riot.
The first enemies you'll lay a cannon on are relatively low-powered flying insects known as Reos. Although they've been pretty powerful opponents in previous Metroid games, here they are little more than a buzzing annoyance and swiftly dispatched with a few blasts from Samus' arm cannon.
The auto-aim function switches quickly to pick out your targets and occasionally you'll have to use a quick evade manoeuvre when you encounter a swarm, but overall the Reos' swooping dive attacks are easily avoided with a well-timed double tap dodge or completely evaded by prodigious use of the jump button.
Round one to Samus, then - but as soon as you've powered your way through the first couple of waves, more Reos keep materialising and you realise you need to cut out this infection at its source. Where's it coming from? Well a quick switch to visor mode (by pointing the controller at the screen) reveals the presence of the Reo's hives.
Using the B button to lock on, you can fine tune your aim and send a couple of missiles straight into its heart, swiftly disposing of the flying menace.
Switching between first-person and third-person gameplay forms is at the core of the Other M experience and the transition is smooth, slick and virtually seamless.