Review by Destination
What is the first thing that usually comes to mind when one thinks of bright or luminous. There are many things that would come to my mind, the Sun, the stars, a lamp, or maybe even my TV that goes on the fritz every couple of hours. However, there was one game that brought illuminating to a whole new level and that game is Metroid Prime. The "2002 Game of the Year" certainly deserved its title in my eyes, when I got the chance to play it a while back. I was always familiar with the Metroid series, before I got my hands on this game. Action, adventure, puzzles, and a great atmospheric challenge is what I loved about Metroid and Super Metroid, and when I heard of Prime and its new "First Person" persona, I got a little skeptical. I was curious to see how they would implement the rolling ball, beam weaponry, and just the great atmospheric feel that encompasses the Metroid series. To my surprise and relief to know that the game would have turned out far better than I had even hoped. Full of action, amazing visuals, and plenty of monster blasting, Metroid Prime is certainly a beautifully executed game for a strange genre.
Now there are plenty of things in the game that jumped out at me and made me say "kick ass," but the one that made me excited the most was the graphics. Now some of you that have not played the game might be wondering, why the heck are the graphics better than the game-play? Well, that is not quite what I mean. The first thing you will most likely notice about the game is the wonderful 3D rendered atmosphere. Mountains and forests that virtually leap out in front of you; the fluid motion of Samus and her enemies; the realism as water trickles down your visor. Every detail is so incredible that it immediately wanted to make me go exploring around every single crevice and through every available door. Something that goes right hand in hand with the amazing environments is the Scan Visor. At first I was kind of bugged that I had to scan all these things, but as I kept playing the amount of lore and information I got from each item drew me in even further. The atmosphere of the game is not just the appearance of the world, but what delves within it.
Diving forward into the game I would occasionally have some trouble with my health bar getting low, and I was generally wondering what I seem to be doing wrong. Up and upon me came the fact that I was not utilizing all the moves at my disposal; part of that came in the fact I had not yet mastered the control scheme of the game. Quite literally the learning curve of the control is quite a bit deeper than most recent games I had played. Utilizing the Control stick alone for movement was kind of tough, and had me spinning in the wrong places at times. If it were not, in part, help to the amount of time spent into, Halo it probably would have been a lot tougher. Generally it took between 2-4 hours of game-play before I found myself strafing, jump shooting, and quick-dodging much more effectively. Of course, mastering the control pattern of the game always helps you enjoy the game more, as you become less concerned about the basics.
The great game-play mechanic that I enjoyed most of all had to be the morphing ball, which at first was the thing I was most intrigued about how it would be implemented. There is nothing more fun than turning into a living pinball bouncing around your enemies and leaving a trail of bombs for them to worry about. The puzzles in this game and mastering the moves that lead into those challenges is what continued to help along the great game-play experience. The selection and easy to use weapon system was also a lot of fun. Samus gets plenty of firepower packed into that right arm of hers, including the Wave Beam, Plasma Beam, Ice Beam, and of course your traditional blaster. Each of these weapons is a blast to use and encompass some very cool effects. Paralyze your enemies leaving them wide open for attack, freeze them and laugh at their strange postures, or just evaporate them. The quick changing feature with the help of the control pad makes for quick action with no fuss over remembering what button changes the weapon. The easy layout of the options at your disposal and how they affect the puzzles and action of the game is extremely well done.
What was that? Man, I know I just saw something around that corner .Ah, crap! Wow, hats off to Retro Studios for making the game not only action packed and adventurous, but creepy as well. Encompassing great graphical effects, wonderful environments, and tough enemies, came another element that pulls them all together for one great experience . The sound of the music! The clang of Samus's metal suit against the ground, the eerie change of music when certain events come along, and the great overhead themes that reign over the worlds all add to the same great sensation. Instance in fact, when I was playing the ice land of Phendrana Drifts. I was deep in the level, inside the mysterious and dark laboratory at the top of the mountain. The music was very slow paced and haunting, and the room was pitch dark, forcing me to use my X-Ray visor. The ethereal beings moving slowly across the floorboards and ceilings, waiting for me to get close enough for them to attack. I took the first shot and they all scattered directions and went into opposite areas of the room. I ran right into the fray only to see one right in front of me, I practically jumped out of my seat. The whole feeling the game gives you as you arrive at each destination really is amazing.
There is one thing that kind of remained a bit neutral on my annoyed side while playing the game and that was the constant reminder of where to go next. Now you might be wondering, why is that a problem? Well, basically the map is a great tool to use in each level as it layouts each and every room you have been in, and the name of that room. So, if you are using a guide, you will have no problem following along. The game does not help you out in anyway in particular when trying to find extra Energy Tanks or ammunition bonuses (which you will need to get 100% completed.) However, it does point you where to go next to reach the main confrontation, not just to what level, but to the exact room. Now the game is very challenging within itself, but not knowing where to go next and finding it on your own, is what encompasses adventure, in my opinion. Beyond that point, the game stresses that you go there, even if you are off collecting other items. Which means the map will constantly remind you practically every 20 minutes that you need to destroy this creature or stop this reactor, etc. Luckily, once you complete that objective a new one does not appear for a while, giving you time to get over it. If being told where to go does not bother you, than this feature should at best be convenient. Something else that seemed to both everyone else was the backtracking. Being a fan of exploring only made me enjoy it even more. Always thinking, "I thought that level would have more to it," only to find out it did, was great and really kept me looking for every power-up and secret.
Boom, Wham, Zap, just a couple sounds that kept me on the edge of my seat, as I confronted each boss or major enemy. Despite the amount of Energy Tanks and extra missile/bomb ammunition you can find, the game's enemies are still very challenging. My favorite thing in action games are the major enemies that are involved with the finale of each level, and this game is no exception in that department. From the towering Thardus to the innovative confrontation with the mutant plant Flaarghra, each fight is fun and will definitely keep you on your toes. There are times when it may take you multiple tries to defeat a boss, no matter how skilled you think you are Mr. Gamer. The game rewards you for defeating each boss, however, by giving you extra weapons, new suits, abilities, and much more. While I wish the game did have a few extra bosses, the ones in this game are certainly no disappointment. You might be wondering how the AI of the normal enemies are, well I certainly would not call them normal, if you know what I mean. Creatures in this game range from crawling ice creatures to alien space pirates, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Like I mentioned in my spooked confrontation with the pirates earlier, they are extremely crafty and a lot of fun to battle. Their abilities are amazingly similar to the ones I even had trouble using at the start, such as strafing and their being able to sense you before you enter a room are pretty tight too. So, as you are playing along, keep your eyes and ears open.
All of you are probably bursting with excitement over what more there is to the game; did I forget to mention the harder difficulty mode, artwork, more features, and GBA connectivity? I did? Well, there you go, the better percentage you beat the game with, the better the rewards will be, so try to go for that 100% score. It will not only help you better against the final boss, but also help give you some neat things to play around with. Speaking of the GBA connectivity, if you have Metroid Fusion, you can swap the blue costume from that game into Prime. So, if you want to see Samus in all her colors, and I know you do, then you will definitely want to give it a shot. You can even play the original Metroid, as an extra feature as well. Once again, kudos off to Retro for packing this game with so much more to do and if you thought the original difficulty was easy, give this a shot. Go on I dare you
There are definitely few games that live up to the hype and overall expectation that everyone hopes it will be, and this one just goes all out. Turning a side scrolled adventure into a First-Person shooter, while still displaying that adventure-esque feeling was genius, and only the geniuses at Retro and Nintendo could have done it. Zelda, Mario, and DK all made the transition to 3D perfectly, and now in my eyes, Metroid can join them right at the top of the pack. Despite a couple of minor peeves here and there, Metroid Prime is seriously a worthwhile pickup and considering it comes packaged with the Gamecube now, is a steal. Not to mention that you get the demo for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and it is still the same price. Beautiful graphics, great environments, challenging enemies, great music, and fantastic game-play all make this game worthwhile, and it certainly deserves its place up there with the best of them. If nothing else, give this game a shot if you are really looking forward to Echoes, and I know you are.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 08/28/04, Updated 08/30/04
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