METROID FUSION (2002)
As I said while discussing Super Metroid, improvements in gaming consoles won’t really improve the basic gameplay of the original Metroid series, as Fusion has the same basic 2d shooter format that Super Metroid had, with obviously sleeker graphics. However, while the play of the game wasn’t significantly changed, the updated backstory (which borrows even more heavily from the Ridley Scott Aliens movie collection) is a lot more nuanced and interesting, without being overly preachy or complicated.
With the (presumed) eradication of the metroid species, the “X” species had lost their only higher rung in the food chain, and with their almost-indestructible body composition and ability to copy any living thing it touches and reproduce asexually, posed a threat to the rest of the universe (sort of). Pretty strong environmental statement on the repercussions of messing around with ecosystems a video game is making, and that’s just the start of the story.
So, our hero Samus is the first human to be infected by the X, but before it can fiugure out our species and destroy us all, Samus is literally torn out of her fighting suit, and is injected with some kind of Metroid serum that not only kills the X inside her, but, of course, makes her resistant to the X (in their natural state) so that she wouldn’t immediately die the next time she came upon one. A bit of a stretch logically, but it’s really the only way the game is even remotely playable.
Instead of fighting on some alien world you’re now infiltrating a human science lab, which, also “coincidentally,” just so happens to have various compartments designed to mimic Metroid worlds of past games….because, completely unknown to anyone else, the scientists there were experimenting on a few more metroids that were thought to have been completely eradicated (POLITICAL INTRIGUE!). The X from your original suit have taken over parts of this space lab, then reproduced exponentially, and in your ignorance you give them access to the rest of it. Well, not just your ignorance; your ship has a artificial intelligence that links up to the space station, helping you navigate throughout the lab and giving you power ups, again coincidentally, right when you need them, instead of all at once at the beginning. Because that would be too easy, obviously.
You’re not just fighting against the X, though, as when you find out about the metroids the ship traps you in one of hose navigation rooms, as for the humans in charge would rather blow up the lab (with you in it) than have you get out and tell the universe about their nefarious plans. I would be fine with self-sacrifice, if the X were as dangerous as the game claims, but of course Samus somehow deduces that the X could survive the self-destruct, and even one of them that survives could still repopulate and….you know, destroy the universe, or whatever.
Somehow, Samus convinces the ship to let her go so she can destroy the lab a different way, that not only ensures the X’s destruction but, of course, lets her live. This is done because the ship’s A.I. is based on the memories and experience of various human leaders, including some guy named Adam that Samus is totally hung up on. I guess Adam is supposed to represent the human soul, or some concept of humanity that an artificial intelligence should not be able to understand (aka every story arc ever used with anything resembling A.I.).
Now Samus can kill the evil X that has become an effective Dark Samus, free a couple of good aliens that we came across in Super Metroid, and, oh yeah, have another impromptu run-in with the Mother Brain (“Omega”) metroid and, for reasons never really established, the “Dark Samus” X sacrificing itself to save you, so you can kill the Mother Brain. Other than the X having a serious hard on for the metroids, this act makes little sense, but in any case you get off the lab just as its about to crash into a planet, thereby ridding the universe of the X. Presumably.
That’s a pretty deep, multi-layered plot for a video game that came out 10 years ago, even though said plot borrows heavily from other alien-related media, as well as wedging in a well-worn government coverup meme. It’s all a bit dense, but the plot really doesn’t get in the way of killing aliens and blowing stuff up. And really, that’s all you want from a Metroid game.