Review by Mageknight
"Still retains the Metroid atmosphere"
Metroid Prime changes the way Metroid is played by putting players in Samus' suit, or first person view. It may no longer be platforming like the Metroid games in the past, but Metroid Prime proves that even in first person, it can still feel like a Metroid game.
The environments in Metroid Prime are simply that good. From the horrors of experiments and the aftermath of it in the Space Pirate Frigate to the dry and dusty Chozo Ruins, each area has lots of details that make them seem almost believable; your shots make the water splash when you shoot at it, ice shatters when you blow it up, mist and fog shoot out from leaky pipes, and even rain can drip off your visor if you look up to the sky. Even some enemies burn away when you light them on fire. On top of that, if you shoot a charged shot and it hits the wall next to you at the right angle, the light will show a reflection of Samus' eyes on the visor. Retro Studios put in a lot of effort to make every detail stand out and it is a success. Graphically, the game simply looks great, despite it being on a mini disc that can't hold much data. While a few enemies and objects may look a bit polygonal and some textures may seem a bit dull, everything else is done just right.
The controls work very well for this game as long as you do not think of it as a first person shooter type of control. "A" is used for shooting your beam weapons while "B" is used to jump. The C-stick is used to quickly swap beam weapons without having to resort to using a menu, making weapon swapping very painless. The D-pad is used to switch between visors, such as the Scan Visor to collect data and Thermal Visor to read heat signatures. "L" is used to lock onto enemies so you can have accuracy with your shots and to strafe around them. The "X" button changes Samus to her Morph Ball form so she can squeeze into tight spots. "Y" is used for Samus' Missiles and "R" is used for free look in conjunction with the Control Stick. Every button is used here and they all work flawlessly. My only complaint with the controls is free look doesn't make Samus' move her head around fast enough, but this is very minor.
Now what is Metroid without items? Metroid fans will recognize Samus' weapons and items as she acquires them in the game. Missiles help damage tougher foes and destroy materials, the classic Ice Beam can freeze most foes rock solid, and the famous Grapple Beam lets Samus swing from place to place. There is much more to discover and they are used in the cleverest ways like melting ice to gain access to areas or blasting down hanging pieces of rock to make a bridge; no item is ever ignored in this game, so expect to use everything at least once.
Of course, Metroid Prime isn't without enemies and you'll see plenty of them. Some foes simply ignore Samus but still hurt her if she makes contact while other foes will attack her on sight. Combat is mainly done by locking onto enemies with "L," allowing you to strafe circles around the target and you will always get a clean shot. Boss battles don't disappoint either as you will be kept on your toes while you exploit their weaknesses. While some of the early bosses may feel too easy, the ones after that will quickly change your mind, especially the last few.
Now the Metroid series was never known for having a heavy story, but Metroid Prime has a rich detailed storyline told through lores via Scan Visor. Chozo lores tell a story of a terrible plague while Space Pirate lore shows their horrible experiments. Even scanning enemies will give you detailed info on them so you can better prepare yourself. Acquiring these scans is purely optional and won't affect the game, but you will get a much better understanding of the game if you read what it has to offer. Not to mention that filling up your logbook will help you unlock bonus content.
Metroid Prime also has the ability to connect with Metroid Fusion by linking a Gameboy Advance to the Gamecube via GBA/GC link cable. You can only get the content if you beat one of the games or both. The unlockables here are purely optional but one of them is a free game. Sadly, this is the only way to unlock those contents so if you don't have Metroid Fusion, a GBA, or the accessory to link up, you're out of luck.
As far as complaints go, there isn't much to say. Slow turning speed is one, but very minor. Item expansions do give away their presence by making a loud humming sound, but you will have to do some work to get them obviously. Ammo Stations seem too few in amount; at least there should have been one in each region so you won't have to backtrack to get more Missiles. Speaking of backtracking, you will have to do quite a bit of backtracking to get certain items in order to move to the final part of the game, which can be a bit annoying.
Overall, Metroid Prime captures the feel of the Metroid series. You really do feel alone in a huge world as you are left on your own to figure out what has happened and what you can do about it. If you're a big Metroid fan, you won't be disappointed.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/24/08
Game Release: Metroid Prime (US, 11/17/02)
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