Review by OutOfRange

"A Prime Example Of Awful Games That Earn Rave Reviews By Being Part Of A Popular Series"

When a game's storyline consists of “The Secret To The Ultimate Power Lies Here” you know you're in trouble. It's not essentially bad, if the game manages to build on that and merely use is as the building blocks for something greater. Unfortunately, Hunters doesn't provide an enjoyable experience in the slightest, and merely proves a point that anything can sell if you hide it underneath pretty graphics.

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Storyline (3/10)
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The storyline for this game is extremely simplistic; Samus is sent to investigate a distress signal, which just happens to say something about “the ultimate power”. Basically, you end up searching four planets for eight pieces of something called the Octolith. But you're not the only one searching for this power! Other Hunters pick up on the signal and are thus also looking for the pieces. This is Nintendo's way of trying to add some kind of variety to the storyline, but fails, since there's no real kind of interaction between you and the other hunters, so they just end up being mid-bosses. There's so much they could have done, for example, making alliances with another Hunter, then you could have had to worry about them stabbing you in the back, or better the chance to do it to them. But unfortunately, no, the whole Hunters aspect of the game is completely wasted and practically unused. Sure, the storyline doesn't get in the way of the game, but it does it to the extent that the storyline is practically forgotten and the other Hunters just end up being there to be something else to fight against aside from the normal cannon fodder. The storyline is also explained through scanning various objects, as in the Prime games, but instead of paragraphs of backstory, in this game you get a sentence of mostly useless information. Yet another reason why the storyline isn't up to par in this game, and thus essentially makes scanning things and trying to find out the storyline pointless.

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Gameplay (4/10)
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The Metroid Prime games are supposedly exploration games with FPS added in for variety, despite failing at both of those things (but that's another review entirely) this Metroid game is intended to provide a purely FPS experience. Unfortunately, it completely fails to provide this and the gameplay ends up being; go down a straight path of corridors, fight a boss and escape to your ship on a time limit. Exploration is completely removed in this game, as while the levels are pretty big, they are essentially a completely straight line. The other factor that destroys this game's FPS experience is the controls; you use the D-pad to move, stylus to aim and L button to fire. The touch screen is innovative, but it shouldn't have been used in this game, or at least in the way it's implemented since it makes control of Samus practically impossible. You can map the controls onto the D-pad combined with the A/B/X/Y buttons, and it does make things slightly easier in some ways, but in this mode, the controls don't feel responsive in the slightest, but it could just be due to the transition from using the touch screen. This is mostly evident when trying to aim at enemies, since they move at speed around the screen, and aiming with the DS's controls is a task in itself, especially without an auto aim feature. Of course, the game's biggest problem is that even with this flaw, the game is far too easy. The enemies themselves pose very little threat, and in fact at some points you can leave the game on in a room full of enemies, walk away, come back and still be alive. There's some basic platforming elements involved, but it just consists of a couple of jumping sequences, and only feel that they're there to make use of the fact they included a jumping feature, not because they're necessary. Unfortunately, despite how basic the jumping sequences are, they're made infinitely more difficult by having no real control over where you land.

Other Metroid mainstays exist in the game, in the form of the Morph Ball and using Missiles. Unfortunately, that's about all you get, and whilst the Morph Ball is necessary since the game requires it in order to reach some areas, the Missiles don't make nearly the impact they do in other Metroid titles. The only other powerups on offer is being able to increase your health bar, but an increases of 10 isn't exactly a lot, and the slow rate at which it increases means it's basically unnoticeable and a couple of different guns. The guns don't really make up for the lack of suit upgrades, or other items like the grapple beam, because unlike these two, the guns don't effect how you play the game, they simply give a slightly different way of killing the enemies, although that said, you're still just pressing the same trigger button. The effect this has is that the game is pretty much devoid of any depth, you simply go in and leave, there's no point in trying to explore or collect any fancy side quests pieces, because they don't exist.

There are a lot of features missing in this game, which in the end make it feel like an unfinished game. The things that are present in the game don't make up for what's missing, and don't really come together to provide an experience worth playing. The level design is poor and would have been better if they just left the world as one planet where you go to different areas, as has been the trend in previous Metroid games. The bosses are terrible in this game and don't provide the same fast paced action that I remember from Super Metroid, and in fact don't provide challenge in the slightest, since you just end up fighting the same two bosses over and over. Maybe the game isn't quite as bad as it seems, but the fact that gaming magazines consistently write rave reviews about a terrible game just because it has the word “Metroid” in the title leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

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Graphics (6/10)
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The in game graphics are really good, and show how well the DS can handle 3D graphics. Unfortunately, it also feels as if that was the whole purpose for this game, that it was just intended to be a showcase, and when you get up close to anything, you can see the individual pixels of every object, not a good thing. The environments are different from planet to planet, but only look different, the actual level design feels almost the same for all of them. The graphics are the only selling point of the game, and obviously, when you're looking at still pictures in a magazine, you'd want them to look good, but they really do give a misleading picture of this game. From looking at a picture, it looks a lot like the Gamecube Metroid games, but as mentioned earlier, in execution the game fails miserably.

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Sounds (4/10)
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Both the music and sound effects used in this game sound extremely generic, which isn't a sin, but is the reason I could never give more than a 5 for this section. The reason that it got a four was that aside from using bland sound effects and dull music, is that it used them badly. The music, which is supposed to be atmospheric does nothing of the sort, and ends up being more of an annoyance, especially when the countdown timer starts, since it does all screechy.

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Lifespan (3/10)
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The main game is extremely short, lasting roughly ten hours. For a handheld, it's probably to be expected, but it's ten hours of doing the same task over and over. While the same could be said for many games, nothing is done to try and break up this task or even reward it in any way. Once you've beaten a boss, you're basically told to get a move on to the next place. There's the collection aspect, reused from the Prime games, in order to try and give the game some longevity. But with exploration being so minimal in this game, it's entirely possible to get 100% on your first play without going too much out of your way. There's no replay value at all since the main game is incredibly dull and you're given no extras for completing the game. There is a multiplayer mode, but I never bothered with it, since the controls are too horrid to warrant me actually wanting to give it a go.

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Summary (3/10)
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Not an average of all the scores, but since storyline and lifespan both achieved a 3 and gameplay only managed a 4, why should pretty graphics save the game? Besides, looking back on past reviews, I think Hunters fits in perfectly with other DS games I gave a three. As I said earlier, this game left me with a bitter feeling. It's yet another example of games that the industry tries to hype up as the most important gaming breakthrough in years, and an example of the perfect game. No game ever lives up to this hype nowadays, but Hunters manages to go beyond that and delivers a game that wouldn't sell without the Metroid series attachment. Speaking of the Metroid label, where were the trademarks of the series? We only end up with Samus and a couple of rubbish weapons. Exploration, trial and error, puzzle solving, interesting gameplay, and above all else, the Metroids themselves, all these are missing in the game. If they weren't planning to use any of the elements that fans associate with the Metroid series, then why use the name? Because as I said, without it, this is merely a subpar FPS, that doesn't really deliver on that front.

I'm not a fan of the Metroid Prime series because I don't think the transition from side on platform to FPS has been a terribly successful one. I have nothing against FPS games, and enjoy a couple of them, but as an FPS Metroid fails to provide any action, because it's too slow. Not everything needs to have shiny graphics in order to be successful, and some day developers are going to have to realise this, because once everyone's using ultra realistic graphics, they'll be nothing to set games apart from each other, because as this game shows, good gameplay is a thing of the past.


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 07/23/07


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