Review by Slateman

"Fantastic 3D translation, even for a person who stinks at FPS!"

Overview:
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Simply put, I stink at First Person Shooters. I've never gotten the hang of them and playing them on a console with a joypad proves even worse. Having said that, I had the same fears as everyone else. How would Metroid translate to 3D? I'm a classic 2D gamer and will probably prefer those games over anything in 3D. However, after several hours with Metroid, I realized what most reviewers have been saying all along. This game isn't a standard, run-of-the-mill FPS. It's entirely different.

Visuals:
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At it's core, it's classic Metroid molded into a beautiful 3D engine. Visually it's incredible. Certainly not the best looking game I've ever seen, but from the moment you land and start moving around, everything is Metroid. The level design, enemies, weapons, and even the ball you roll into all seem incredibly familiar. At the same time they are fascinating to watch. Any gamer who has followed the series over the last 15 years will definitely get a kick out of the game's presentation.

In fact, Retro Studios put a lot of time and effort into making the experience authentic and more importantly, all consuming. Many games capture your attention, but Metroid truly pulled me into it's world. The game's environments are varied (yes, the typical Jungle, Ice, Fire worlds do apply here) and are lushly filled with all the new power of the GameCube. Waterfalls fill the landscape with mist, walking through vents will cloud up your visor and even a beam blast in the dark will show Samus' reflection on the inside of her helmet.

The bosses are enormous, typical of any recent Nintendo game. While these bosses are interesting, they have that familiar 'Nintendo Boss' type feeling. The enemies themselves may be new, but they truly do feel like something you'd see in any of the Big N's big games. They'd fit right in as a boss of any Mario or Zelda game. In a way, that familiarity is good...but I felt that the bosses could have used a bit more detail and variety.

Sound and Music:
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A true joy to listen to, Metroid excels in this department. The soundtrack is a mix of organic sounds and wonderous compositions. The sound effects give you a sense of enormity, as beasts come upon you and you charge your blaster for the attack. I was never a big critic of sound in a game, but when it's done right, you simply know, and this is certainly the case here!

Gameplay:
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As always, graphics can only do so much for a game. Metroid Prime is a fantastic example of how to make a great game. There is an immediate stumbling block though. The first step is to get the controls down.
Since this game doesn't feel like a typical FPS, the designers gave it a new control scheme. This works for a gamer like myself, who is miserable at FPS games. Seasoned veterans at the genre may find it frustrating.

While this is a task initially, once you've got the hang of it, the real fun begins. You have plenty of moves at your disposal and all are easy to execute.

The roots of this game are classic 2D exploration. You're required to jump constantly, something far removed from most FPS games. Without jumping, this game would not have been Metroid. Much like it's 2D predecessors, your goal is to explore the landscape, searching every nook and cranny for items, hidden tunnels and the like. The meshing of 2D gameplay and 3D visuals rarely work too well, but here it is pure magic.

The myriad of visors and weapons truly give it a diversity not seen in most games. In any situation you may be required to see the same room with 4 different visors, each giving a unique perspective and revealing different items. Similarly, just as many weapons are at your disposal and each have their own strengths. One beam might stun your opponent while another will deal more damage. Which is the better weapon? It all depends on the situation. Such a depth may force you to try out different options in different situations. Classic!

On the topic of weapons and visors, your entire aresenal of moves, weapons and items are not immediately available to you. Adding to the allure of the NES heyday, you are rewarded as the game progresses with new items and abilities. This gives the gamer a sense of accomplishment as well as the joy of going back and exploring unreachable areas. It will challenge you with the old, ''How do I get up there?!'' feeling, one that is welcome by most old-school gamers. I'll admit the excitement of receiving a new ability and thinking, ''Ooh! Now I can go back and get to that area I couldn't before!'' In this, there is a bit of backtracking involved. On more than one occasion I backtracked to an area to find out I still didn't have the proper utilities to move on. This gives the game a bit of a slow pace, as sometimes you're beckoned to the other side of the world and have to spend a good amount of time getting there. Fortunately, you're provided with one of the best aspects of the game.

By clicking the Z button, you can bring up an incredibly detailed 3D map of the world. Using the controller, you can change the angle, zoom in and out, and see just about everything about a room/level. It's the best use of a map I've encountered, and due to the sheer size of the game, you'll need it! At any given time you can find out exactly where you are, where you are headed and where to go. A small detail perhaps, but any good game pays attention to such things.

Final Thoughts:
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You will probably read similar things in most reviews you see. This isn't a typical FPS. The controls are a little shoddy. I was frightened to think of Metroid in 3D.

Fortunately, Nintendo knew what they were getting into and would not settle for an average FPS. This is Metroid we're talking about and some people would probably go on a rampage if this game were just tossed on the market without care. Love was put into every element of the game and the final product shines.

For those who fear the transition into 3D, you knew it had to happen. There's little to fear here, and from a person who is low on the FPS food chain, it's still a thoroughly enjoyable experience. If you want the 2D experience, play Metroid Fusion for the GBA. Both Metroid games are stellar successes by Nintendo!


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/03/03, Updated 01/03/03


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