Review by PirateNipple

"The best transition of a franchise into 3D. Ever."

The Metroid game franchise has always been one of my favorites, and I believe it's because of one thing: the gameplay style of these games revolves around the simple act of exploration. The whole idea was that you have to look around the in-game world and, quite simply, search for something new to do or somewhere new to go. When you got there, usually you found a powerup of some sorts that enabled you to explore a previously out-of-reach area. The fun factor behind the game was that it rewarded you for exploring. It baffled my mind back in the NES days of Metroid, all through my Metroid II days, and as I enjoyed the masterpiece of Super Metroid, how such a simple idea could be so damned fun.

Well, it is.

Whoever was lucky enough to be drawn in by this simple yet brilliant idea (and it was quite a large number of people) were addicted from the moment they first played. Super Metroid, the last game to be released (almost 8 years ago), was considered by some not only to be the best game in the series, or on the system, but to be the best game ever released. I wholeheartedly agree.

All through the Nintendo 64 era, fans begged and begged for a new installment, hoping to finally play Metroid in 3D. Developers were reluctant to step forward and take up the challenge, mainly because some of the idea behind Metroid was its platforming aspect, and most 3D platform games turned out to be absolutely horrible. Luckily, Retro Studios (in association with Nintendo of Japan) stepped up to the challenge, and have created the best transition of a series into 3D that I have ever experienced. Metroid Prime is a masterpiece. Are you wondering why yet?

Gameplay-----
Simply put: the gameplay of Metroid Prime is what's going to draw you in. If you've ever played a Metroid game before, you know why that is. The game has this whole mood and feeling that makes you want to simply explore. You get to do a whole lot of that in this game. And when you get there, you'll discover something or earn something that will allow you to explore further somewhere else. Yes, there is backtracking in this game. A lot of it. But in a Metroid game, it doesn't feel like backtracking. It's not a chore like in some other games that require it to be done. And because of this, Metroid Prime has one huge world that, quite simply, is fun to travel across, no matter how many times you have to do it. Because when you get there, you know something good awaits.

The 3D engine created for Prime is one of the coolest and best 3D engines I have seen in a long time. It works absolutely perfectly for the series. It keeps that whole Metroid feeling that so many people liked about the previous games and lets you do it I full, beautiful 3D. It's been said before, and I'll say it again now, because I agree completely: Metroid Prime looks and feels like Super Metroid in 3D.

And the Morph-Ball mazes are back, and as fun as ever.

10 out of 10

Graphics-----

The graphics of the Metroid games have always been perfectly tied in with the gameplay. Part of the gameplay is set in by the game's mood, and the mood that Metroid games gave been famous for were given to it by the graphics. Metroid Prime is no exception. The game looks like Metroid should. It's absolutely beautiful. Samus's 3D model looks absolutely awesome. Most of the game is seen through Samus's visor (in a first-person mode, except for when in Morph Ball form, then it switches to third-person), and in both cases, it looks awesome. Samus's visor is transparent from the inside and displays all of her vital information on some type of a LCD screen (like energy, missiles, etc.). It's ingenious. There's also enough little details to amaze you: when Samus comes near some sort of heat or steam, her visor steams up for a few seconds, or when she emerges from water her visor has little droplets trace down from it. It's really cool to see in action. Excellent graphics overall.

10 out of 10

Sound-----

The sound is, to say the least, excellently done as well. It fits the whole theme of Metroid just about as well as any other Metroid game does. The sound effects sound just like you'd imagine they would. The music, thankfully, is absolutely awesome. You'll find some classic tunes in here, remixed, and they sound sweet. You'll also hear some new music, which not only fits with the game well, but it sounds really neat too. Could it have been better? Maybe, maybe not. As it is now, however, it's good enough.

9 out of 10

Story-----

This is where most Metroid games falter. And I'm not going to lie to you: Metroid Prime's story isn't much to behold, at least not at first. Sadly, this is where most gamers will get tired of the game. They'll play only so far, because they don't feel motivated to keep going and quite simply, it isn't as fun. As you get further into it, however, a story actually kicks in. It surprised me, too. You're just walking along, and suddenly you stumble on a sort of ''ruins''. Exploring this area will start to reveal a storyline to you. I don't want to say anything more about it, because the simple fact that a Metroid game has a halfway decent storyline in it is a miracle. It's fun to discover what's going on in this strange world. It's by far the best storyline in a Metroid game ever (however, that's not really saying much).

6 out of 10

Lasting Appeal-----

Most Metroid games are fun to replay through them once you've completed them once (I've gone through Super Metroid at least 15 to 20 times, and, quite simply, it becomes more fun each time), and this is no exception. What's more, the game rewards you with a ''hard mode'' after you complete it once. That right there is enough to make you play it at least one more time. But trust me: You'll want to keep playing long after that.

The game is a bit challenging, no question, and that's sure to turn some players away. But believe me: figuring out what to do is fun. And actually doing it feels even better.

How long is the game? There have been claims of 20-30 hours of gameplay here, and I find those numbers to be accurate. One thing that you may notice is that the in-game timer (found on the file select screen) is not as accurate as one may hope. Well, maybe it actually is: As far as I can tell, it only counts the time that you're actually in control of Samus. Pause time, in-game cut scenes, viewing the map, whatever it may be: it simply doesn't count it. If you finish the game and the timer says something around 15 hours, in reality you've played it much more than that. And you don't need 100% to beat it: 100% is obtained from collecting every item, from missiles to energy tanks. Searching for all of these items is sure to extend playtime a good 25% or so, possibly more.

And no, there's no multiplayer. But that does not factor into my overall score for Lasting Appeal, as Metroid games are single-player games at heart.

9 out of 10

Summary-----

If you're planning on renting this game, trust me on this: you can't possibly get the full potential of this game from a rental. If you consider yourself a Metroid fan, you must but it. You'll be playing it over and over because it's so darned fun.

I personally could not be more pleased with the final product. I wondered, exactly how would Metroid work in 3D? Trust me: it worked absolutely perfectly. Don't let the fact that the game is single-player only turn you away: in my opinion, multi-player wouldn't work because of the targeting system. And this is not First-Person Shooter, more of a First-Person Adventure. Whoever claims otherwise is simply wrong.

This game rocks. Play it now.

10 out of 10


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


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