Review by whiz kid

"Metroid Prime shines like the brightest star in the galaxy..."

Actual score: 9.5/10
Rounded score: 10/10

After a long hiatus, the Metroid series bursts onto the scenes once more with not one, but two games! Metroid Fusion, for Game Boy Advance, and Metroid Prime, for Gamecube. Metroid Prime breaks from the classic side scrolling action of the Metroid series and enters first-person mode. Is the switch successful, and does Metroid Prime live up to all the hype? Let’s find out…

Gameplay (27/30): There’s one big question on everyone’s mind: Does the switch into first-person mode ruin Metroid Prime? The answer: Definitely not. In Prime, you’ll take a behind-the-visor perspective of the alien hunting, platform jumping, boss fighting action. Rather than spoil the game, though, this view puts you right into the middle of the action, as though you were there yourself. You may be attacked brutally from the front, or you may be snuck up on from behind. You’ll find yourself peering around corners and checking your back to make sure you’ve eradicated every last trace of the threat.

This brings up another point: the controls. Being able to maneuver, shoot, and use your various accessories quickly and effectively are all vital to your survival. While the controls may be a tad confusing at first, you’ll find yourself adjusted to them within the first 10-30 minutes of game play. You move using the control stick, shoot with the A button, jump with the B button, lock-on and strafe with L, free-aim with R, use Y to fire missiles, X to curl into the Morph Ball, and Z to call the map for that particular area. The C-Stick cycles through weapons, and of course Start pauses the intense action and allows you a whole host of options, including getting a run-down of Samus’ various tools. Fans of first-person shooters may look at these controls and die of a heart attack, but it should be noted that Prime is not meant to be a first-person shooter. In fact, “first-person adventure” seems to more accurately describe the game as a whole. In all, you’ll find that these controls are very effective and worthy of the game.

As Samus’ quest to destroy the Space Pirates unfolds, you’ll find yourself faced with a monstrous amount of tasks to accomplish. And while you are meant to be at certain places at certain times, the game never feels linear. Each area is huge, with multiple branching, crisscrossing paths. Some areas may not be accessible until you have acquired a certain powerup, so it’s in your best interest to note these areas when you happen to stumble across them. The game provides you with an excellent in-game, 3-D map, so you can always find your way in case you get lost in the game’s vast environments.

While a good portion of the areas are straightforward, there are a lot that require you to perfect your jumping skills. This can be very tricky and frustrating at times, as your limited view is far from the optimal preference. However, there are very few jumps that, if missed, lead to an untimely death, so the proverb, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” comes into play.

Using the Morph Ball is one of the only times the game switches into third-person view, allowing you to see your surroundings and effectively maneuver Samus in ball form. Controls here are very responsive, and of course, bomb jumping is back. You’ll often find yourself going into this mode just for the sake of getting a better view at your surroundings, especially when having to traverse a long series of jumps.

Other tools, both old and new, make an appearance in Prime. Missiles, bombs, the charge/grappling/ice/plasma beam, and a whole assortment of visors. The Scan visor lets you view critical details about the scenery, artifacts, and the aliens themselves. The Thermal visor detects heat traces, allowing you to scope out enemies in dark places. The X-ray scope let’s you peer through walls and other things to give you advance warning of enemies’ locations, and to detect hidden areas.

Overall, Metroid Prime’s gameplay shines like the brightest star in the galaxy. While jumping may get frustrating at times, you’ll find that the good far outweighs this one tiny morsel of bad.

Graphics (20/20): One word: gorgeous. And even that’s an understatement. Each of the game’s areas is beautifully constructed, from the floating space station to the Chozo Ruins and beyond. Every time you turn a new corner, you’ll be amazed at the scenery that lies before you. Towering buildings, ancient machinery, frigid snow fields, dark and mysterious caverns, this game has it all, and none are a disappointment.

Prime’s attention to detail is astonishing. You’ll notice tiny drops of water collecting on your visor as you walk past a cascading waterfall. Water, steam, alien guts, electricity, and more can all gunk up your visor for a few seconds, adding to the feeling that you’re the one in Samus’ suit, exploring the hostile worlds.

All of your alien “friends” in this game look strikingly realistic… and deadly. From the small and the vicious to the colossal and lethal. Each alien’s animation is smooth, captivating, and incredibly life-like. I could go on and on here, raving about the graphics, but I think that would be best for you to find some screenshots and see for yourself how gorgeous everything is. All this beauty, and more, and never a drop in frame rate. THAT’S how it’s done.

Sound (15/15): The music in this game is wonderful. There are several throwbacks to the Metroid games of old, and scores of new and masterfully composed tracks. The eerie, atmospheric music adds to the mood of the game. The intense boss music gets you pumped and ready to fight. The fast-paced, urgent music, played when in a very precarious situation, gives you the motivation to get moving and stay alive. The techno, sci-fi-ish music always matches the mood, and it ultimately adds to the game’s experience as a whole.

Likewise, the sound effects are done well. The sounds accompanying the action - explosions, blasts, lasers, alien battle cries and death moans - are all very well done and sound realistic.

Fun Factor (19/20): There’s no doubt about it; this game is a blast to play. You’ll find yourself being drawn into the immense worlds. Your heart will pound as you find yourself under attack from huge swarms of enemies. You’ll be holding your breath as you creep down a dark and winding corridor. And you’ll cry in frustration as you miss jumps over and over again, which is where this category loses a point. In all, though, this game will draw you in like no other and keep you there.

Replayability (9/10): If you’re familiar with past Metroid games, then you know that there’s always a reason to keep coming back for more. Metroid has always been about secrets, and this game doesn’t disappoint. You’ll be scouring the worlds over and over trying to rack up a 100%, and you’ll find yourself racing to beat the game in a record amount of time, as in all previous Metroid games. And there’s some interesting bonuses to unlock, as well, so keep an eye out for those.

Reviewer’s Tilt (5/5): There may be no such thing as perfection, but this game comes pretty darn close. Nearly everything is well-done with enormous attention to detail, and the game is extremely fun and captivating.

Scores

Gameplay (27/30) – Fun. Captivating. Innovative.

Graphics (20/20) – The best you’ve seen in a long time.

Sound (15/15) – An excellent score, plus several classic Metroid tunes mixed in.

Fun Factor (19/20) – Fun. And lots of it.

Replayability (9/10) – You’ll be at it for a while to unlock and do everything.

Reviewer's Tilt (5/5) – The most fun I’ve had in a while with any game, and that’s quite an accomplishment for a game to hold over me.

Score out of 100: 95/100
Score out of 10: 9.5/10
Rounded score: 10/10

Final words: This game is definitely a candidate for Game of the Year. Everything about it is top-notch, and you’ll have a blast playing this game. Still, if you’re a bit leery about the game being in first-person mode, you might want to give it a rent. Ultimately, though, you’ll find that this is one game you’ll want to buy and keep in your collection forever.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/21/02, Updated 11/21/02


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