Review by Platyphyllis
"Metroid Prime is simply one of the best 2D to 3D transitions I've played"
Just like in every Metroid game so far, this game has you taking control of space bounty hunter Samus Aran, an athletic young woman who is famous for defeating the alien Space Pirates and working with the Galactic Federation to help make the universe a better place by accepting missions that would be otherwise deemed as impossible. This time around, she's been sent to the Space Frigate Orpheon to investigate the space pirate activities after a distress signal was received from that area. She soon discovers that the space pirates have been overrun by the creatures they were experimenting on and finds the space frigate about to self-destruct. She encounters a familiar villain on her way out and follows him to the planet of Tallon IV where Samus must explore and find out about a great evil that's lurking deep within the far reaches of the planet.
Much like most franchises which originate from Nintendo, the story has never really been the main focus of the Metroid series with the background story just serving as extra information for the characters and a way to use a sci-fi setting. Regardless of this fact, Metroid Prime is actually a bit of a story intensive game. The story is never really "forced" upon you through cutscenes like most RPGs on consoles but instead, the game uses a unique scanning feature in which you can switch to a scan visor (which acts differently than Samus' normal visor) and scan various objects of interest such as walls with lore inscribed into them and computer databases filled with entries from the space pirates. I found this to be a very interesting and actually a really good way of moving the story forward, although those who are not familiar with the Metroid universe might still end up a bit confused in the end.
Right from the beginning, I'm already praising the game quite a bit just from the method of storytelling, and I'm not going to stop there. This game does a superb job in almost everything else as well, the main thing being the gameplay. Like I pointed out earlier, many people were skeptical that the Metroid series simply would not work as a 3D First Person game but they couldn't be more wrong. This game works extremely well and Retro Studios pulled off what many thought was impossible.
The first thing I'd like to point out is that this game isn't exactly a "First Person Shooter" as some people label it. There simply isn't enough action to justify it as one. Instead, this is more like a First Person Adventure game with a weapon. You use Samus' beam gun to solve puzzles and destroy obstacles more instead of getting into intense fights with Space Pirates. The bosses are beaten more like a puzzle and you use the scan visor more to discover how to beat certain enemies, find out more about the story and collect data rather than using it for some sort of combative purpose. Rather than just finding upgrades that solely make you more powerful, most of the new abilities you find like the new visors and new beams are used for puzzle elements (some things are invisible without an x-ray visor, etc.). To put things simply, don't come into this game expecting an intense FPS where you're constantly shooting, taking cover, and dodging bullets (although there are a few times in this game where this is the case). Instead, come into the game expecting some great first person platforming, lots of incredibly well-designed environmental puzzles, and lots of new weapons, visors, and abilities to find which you can use at your disposal.
Even better than the game mechanics is the game's graphical design. Out of all the games I've played, Metroid Prime has got to be one of the most atmospheric ones. Right from the beginning when Samus lands on the Space Frigate Orpheon and she jumps out of her ship, you can see that there's so much attention that's been given to the graphics. The frigate was really realistically designed with force field barriers and lots of high-tech machinery. When you go in and the frigate is in ruins with condensed air spraying out of the pipes, you actually see the condensation on your visor (meaning that it fogs up a bit). Also, when you fire a charged shot at a wall in a dark area and you're really near the wall, you can even see Samus' own reflection on the light which was a really cool effect. So much attention was given to the graphical detail and level design in this game that I simply couldn't help but appreciate it. It's definitely the strongest point that this game has and I have no complaints about it.
The musical score and audio for this game is excellent as well. Kenji Yamamoto, the composer for this game did an absolutely wonderful job. His style of music seems to mix synthesized sounds which sound reminiscent of the earlier games (probably to add a nostalgic factor to everything) and lots of instruments like guitars and drums to give the game a more modern feel as well. The music contributes heavily to the atmosphere with sad and stretched out tunes adding to the heavy layer of nostalgia when you enter ruined desolate areas and fast-paced aggressive beats when fighting against space pirates. The game also has a huge array of sound effects which add to the overall realistic sci-fi feel of the game. Almost nothing feels out of place. The growls of the different creatures you encounter, the realistic screams of the space pirates, and even Samus' own grunts when she gets hurt or falls from a really high area really show that Retro Studios did not skimp out on the production values at all.
Overall, Metroid Prime has got to by one of the most stylish, technically impressive, beautiful, and refined game I've played. It just oozes high production values with the amazing effort put into its technical design for a Gamecube game and its difficulty and over 20 hours of gameplay (if you don't use a guide that is) show that this is definitely a game that any hardcore gamer will love. At this point in time, we've already seen 3 entries in the Metroid Prime section of the Metroid series and they've all been met with great feedback so if you still haven't gotten into this series of games yet, then I highly recommend that you get this game and start now.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/08/08
Game Release: Metroid Prime (US, 11/17/02)
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