Review by DJellybean
"Metroid Prime is a fun game, but definately doesn't stack up to Super Metroid."
Before I go on, I want to note that silverthornne made a great point in his review. That point was whether or not this game would've received high scores if it wasn't for the name of the game. Metroid Prime is indeed a fun game, and the fact that it's a FPS shooter that plays similar to many FPS before it can either make or break the game for the fan.
Graphics in the game are probably one of the best you'll see yet for the Gamecube. The pre-rendered backgrounds have a nice subtle effect that blends in perfectly with an active and moving environment. The color and lighting effects does the game a great deal of justice that sets the environment off almost like an action show.
But since this is a first person shooter, distances can be a bit hard to tell sometimes, and you end up mistiming a jump and landing on hot lava rather than on a platform. And some effects like the sun, water, or electrical interference plays nicely, it hinders your vision a lot, causing a lot of unforced errors and frustration. Although I do have to admit, it's a nice effect when you're in a dark room and shooting your beam provides a small ounce of light that can be crucial to navigating. Another problem is that the camera is often too slow to turn around for most bosses that can be a pain. But all in all, Nintendo did a decent job with the graphics in terms of design and presentation, but was pretty mediocre when it came to camera control.
Sound and Music
The music in the game fits the surroundings nicely, it's not too loud and overwhelming that it takes over the game, but it's soft enough to not be a distraction and to let you know it's there. There is some retro Metroid music that brings back plenty of nostalgia in addition to the new game soundtrack. The music is also a great indicator of when danger is around as a different track hits when certain enemies are nearby and disappears when all enemies are dead.
The sound does a nice job of adding to the effects of music as it overlaps and provides important sounds as whether you've uncovered a secret or the sound of jet packs near by. The variety of sounds in the game aren't plenty however, most enemies share the same yell and the only variety of sounds you get comes from the different guns you have mounted. So while the music is nice, the sound however is a bit weak.
Metroid Prime really deserves credit for bringing replay value into the game. Not only does the game require you to scan all the enemies, items, etc. to unlock a few features, it also requires the completion of it's sister game, Metroid Fusion to unlock an entirely ''new'' game in the NES Metroid. So although it's a great value to include these extras such as an art gallery or another game, it's also costly to someone who can ill-afford two systerms, two games, and a link cable. But playing the game again in Hard Mode might ward off some people since the controls can get a bit out of whack...which will be explained more in the section below.
Gameplay can be a bit brash at times. I really felt that the reason so many high scores were given to the game was because of the name of the title. Sure it has all the weapons, suit enhancements, the enemies, and even the music, but it still felt odd playing a Metroid in 3D. However, by no means am I shooting down Metroid Prime, it's a great game and worth every penny, but stacking it up next to Super Metroid is another story.
Being a first person shooter from a traditional 2-D side-scrolling game, I had every reason to be skeptical. One of the greatest games of all time was about to be mutilated into 3-D...or so I thought. Metroid Prime turned out to be a great and fun game that, although had its share of flaws, really stood above the rest of the Gamecube lineup thus far.
The game definitely relies plenty on controls, in fact every button on the Gamecube serves a significant purpose. This can be good or bad as the complexity of controls allows great flexibility to control Samus and her various suit enhancements, but also at the same time it can be quite daunting by remembering all the different controls. The game really takes advantage of the Gamecube's 3 control pads(2 of them being analog) by having two of them refer to 4 beams and the other referring to 4 different visors. Yet it's really not the controls that pose a problem to the game, it's actually the lack of mobility and the slow camera that can sometimes make the game frustrating to play.
Another thing about the game is that the dash and jump controls were locked onto the same button, which can be amazingly frustrating. This makes it tough on the player sometimes as you are required to ''tap'' to dash while locking on the target, but press to jump. In the heat of a boss battle that is incredibly fast(Ridley), this can be frustrating as you sometimes forget to ''dash'' or you might hit the button too hard and end up jumping instead of dashing.
It's also very difficult to turn around 180 quick enough to avoid being attacked from behind. Fighting against monsters like Thardus and Ridley can be more of a chore than a challenge. The camera moves too slow to turn around and sometimes by the time you turn around, you miss your target and thus when the boss gets behind you, you have to turn to face it so you can shoot. This gets to become nerve racking at times as sometimes your vision is forced into facing a wall by an enemy attack and you can't turn around in time to avoid an attack. The special effects in the game can also clutter your visor, making it impossible to see clearly...though fortunately these effects mostly happen when the enemy isn't around.
The game also has numerous controls, as I said before, but the controls probably should've been simplified...mainly regarding the beam. In previous Metroids, once you destroy a door with a weapon other than your beam it becomes a standard door that's open with any weapon. However in Metroid Prime, other than doors requiring missiles, you would still have to open that door with that certain weapon, regardless of how many times you've opened it. While this is more tedious than anything else, it can be a major distraction. Especially when you're in a room full of Plasma Pirates and you want to leave as quickly as possible, an ice door stands in your way...yet in the heat of the moment you forget to realize you are using the Plasma Beam...so by the time you open the door...you're already dead. Another thing about the game is that you can no longer combine beams, instead you would have to switch beams from time to time. Certain enemies also require certain beams, which makes it incredibly annoying sometimes as generally people like to have one default beam and stick with it. Super Missiles are now a pain to use, especially against certain enemies as you must charge for a Super Missile now and you must use the Power Beam, and ONLY the Power Beam, to use them. Not only does this make things difficult when you want to mop the floor with a boss quick, it's also tedious.
A few new items were added to the game a few old powerups were taken out. Among the ones taken out were the Spazer Beam, Spring Ball, Speed Booster and High Jump Boots. Among the new enhancements were a new suit and the previously new Spider-Ball. As you collect more items you are given greater access to areas you previously couldn't reach before. Among the standard suit enhancements are the various power up items such as an Energy Tank or Missile Expansion that gives you a greater maximum amount of the item you already have. They are scattered about across the entire world of Tallon IV, some are obvious while some require a bit of detective work. Exploring is the game's biggest plus and the game's greatest feature and finding every nook and cranny will have you at this game for over 30 hours the first time.
Among the game's best features is the auto lock on, which much like many FPS or Megaman Legends games, allows great ease in fighting bosses and certain enemies, though that does really limit you in terms of your flexibility in movement as you cannot really jump out of the way of certain things if you're locked on, mainly big targets like Thardus. The game is so big that for once, a map is actually useful in a Metroid game and your suit automatically scans the entire planet and tells you what to do next in some cases. Though this can be good or bad as a spam-like message appears on top and closes only when you read it. It does make the game shorter, much like Metroid Fusion you are given directions where to go, but I really felt it worked out for this game as with 3-D games, it's easy to get lost.
This game is definitely worth the buy, though I still question whether the same people would have given this game such high scores if it wasn't for the name of the title. It clearly has a few flaws that can't be overlooked. However, it's not a bad conversion from a traditional 2-D side-scrolling game...but you'd be hard pressed to stack it up to Super Metroid.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/19/03, Updated 03/19/03
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