Review by Mageknight
"Does not live up to its name"
The Metroid Prime series has stood out from the rest of the FPS games. It has focused more on puzzle solving, exploiting enemy weaknesses, and searching every nook and cranny to find those hidden items. The Prime series also told its stories via Scan Visor, which drawn in the player as they learned about what had happened and what they were dealing with. While many people still debate on whether Metroid Prime is a first person shooter or first person adventure, Metroid Prime Hunters clearly leans more towards the FPS genre in many ways.
For starters, the story revolves around Samus being sent to a galaxy to intercept an ultimate power before anyone else does. This power originates from an ancient and now extinct race. Samus won't be the only one searching for this power and she'll have to fight her way through other hunters who are seeking the same thing. The game introduces other bounty hunters of different races, but sadly, they don't seem to play any significant role whatsoever. The only thing they do is blasting Samus the moment they see her. Now I'm not saying that there has to be a Final Fantasy-like cut scene, but the characters don't have any interactivity with each other. While Samus actually travels to different planets, she only visits 4 of them and she has to come back to them many times to complete her quest. That means you'll be running through the same halls and rooms over and over again as you try to figure out what to do.
The controls of the game are very difficult to learn. There are two modes of controls, which are dual mode or stylus mode. With dual mode, you move with the D-pad, look/aim with the A, B, X, Y buttons, and fire with the L button. The stylus mode makes you use the touch screen to aim/look and firing is with the L button. Pressing R (for either mode) makes Samus jump, but double tapping the stylus in stylus mode also makes her jump. Stylus mode feels very uncomfortable to use at first, but dual mode is horrible to use for aiming. Another bad thing about stylus mode is it's too easy to accidentally use another weapon or device while you are aiming. The top of the stylus screen is used to switch weapons and the bottom of the screen is used to change into Morph Ball form and use the Scan Visor. As stated before, some battles can get crazy and it's too easy to switch to another weapon by mistake.
The Scan Visor is used again, but it's not as important as it was in the other Prime games. While you do use it to solve some puzzles and scan for enemy weaknesses, it doesn't really serve much of a purpose. While there are some lores to read to help develop the story, they aren't as attention grabbing as they were in the past games. Aside from puzzles, it is possible to beat the game without using the scan visor at all, making the tool very useless.
Samus' weapons are more varied this time around. From the freezing Judicator to the sniping Imperialist, you'll have many methods in disposing your enemies. You'll use these weapons to unlock certain doors like in any Metroid game. To make things easier, all weapons (except Missiles) share the same kind of ammo. Sadly, more weapons is what Samus only has. She doesn't get suit upgrades or even tools like the Grapple Beam. More weapons and no tool/movement items further proves that the game feels more like a FPS instead of a traditional Metroid game.
The difficulty is fairly tough for most of the game. Enemies will have deadly aim in their shots as they do all they can to avoid yours. Each hunter has their own weapon preference and can morph like Samus can, but most of the hunters are not too bright. Samus can be damaged from high falls, which never happened in any Metroid game. Falling into chasms or getting crushed will instantly kill Samus instead of just damaging her and respawning. This can be mildly frustrating. To make things more "challenging," enemy hunters will spawn in random stages, no matter how many times you kill them and if they kill you, they will steal an artifact and you have to hunt them down to get it back. It is not explained why the other hunters keep coming back, despite all the kills you made on them. While some of the boss fights are tough, they are mostly rehashes of their weaker counterparts with a different fighting strategy. Boring.
The game is very short, despite all the backtracking you will do for artifacts. It took me only 6-8 hours to beat the game and I had gotten most expansion items on my own. Backtracking has always been a part of the Metroid series, but the backtracking in Hunters is painfully boring. You find 3 artifacts to get to the boss, beat the boss and get an Octilith, then run back to your ship before time is up. You have to do this 8 times total and no one wants to spend time key hunting like players did in Metroid Prime 2.
Graphically, it is on par. Nothing too impressive, but nothing boring either. The cut scenes are very detailed, but are too blurry and grainy. The sound effects are not that good and can be annoying sometimes. The sounds reminds me of an arcade game in the 90s, not futuristic sound. Saving the game is a huge pain because it can only be done by going to Samus' ship. That means that if you want to go save, you'll have to trek all the way back. Why not use save points? Forcing players to use the ship just to change game options is also stupid. No one likes to make a long haul just to save the game or change options.
Multiplayer shines in this game and sadly, it seems to overshadow single play. Multiplayer has several modes of play, such as battle, defender, etc. Up to 4 players can play and players can actually be any hunter they unlocked instead of just Samus like in Metroid Prime 2. Each hunter operates differently from one another, but they all can use the same weapons. However, some hunters are more skilled with a certain weapon than others, which is called affinity weapons. For example, Weavel using the Battlehammer has a more splash range while Samus using a charged Missile will seek out targets. Multiplayer has AI bots that are great to practice with, something that Metroid Prime 2 had lacked. Like with most other games, people without the game can still download it to play with friends, but people who have the game won't have to wait for loading time and can use anyone they want.
To make things better, the game is wi fi enabled. Similar to Mario Kart DS, you can play with people from your region or around the world. However, all games are restricted to Battle mode only. At the end of each round, you can request to someone to add them as a rival and if they add you too, then both players will be on each other's rival list. When playing with friends and rivals, players can host games and set their own rules. During set up with friends, you can actually use the mic on the DS to talk to other players, but the quality isn't really all that well. Text can be used for an alternative as well.
Players cannot chat during a match however. Your rank can be seen by other players in your friends/rivals list. It shows many things, such as your most used hunter, times you disconnected, headshot kills made, etc. Your rank will increase if you do better and better on wi fi.
As much fun as wi fi sounds, it actually has too many problems that prevent the game from being fun. For starters, it can be very hard to get connected or to stay connected. I did not have a problem connecting with Mario Kart DS or Animal Crossing Wild World, so why are most players having a problem connecting with this game? Another problem is cheaters/hackers. Many people have given up on playing random matches since other players have been abusing glitches and using cheating devices to get weapons or other items that are not allowed in some stages. Sadly, Nintendo does not want to attempt to even do a band aid job about the problem, letting cheaters run rampant and ruining it for everyone else. Another problem that can arise is the friends and rivals glitch. Sometimes, the game will think a friend you had added is a rival, thus it can prevent them from chatting with you and other things. The only solution to this is to reenter their friend code to upgrade them to friend status.
While Metroid Prime Hunters tries to be more like a FPS game, it needs to improve over a lot of things. A short and lacking single play, along with not so smart AI, won't make most people want to come back for seconds and cheaters running around in wi fi freely makes this game almost unplayable. The control styles should have been thought over since neither are comfortable to the player for a long period of time. Unless you have friends to play with, Metroid Prime Hunters is a game that could have been.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 04/11/07
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