Review by Warmaster Lah

"A horrible attempt at a pun EX1: Metroid Prime is in it's...........Prime!"

Among the many games that Nintendo had announced awhile back, E3 2000 or 2001 I believe, Metroid Prime was probably one of the ones I was looking forward too the most. Sure the new Zelda got me excited, Mario, Eternal Darkness, and the Resident Evil exclusiveness, but none got me more excited than Metroid Prime. After the announcement, numerous movies and screenshots were released, and soon after, I knew I would definitely have to own this title. Well, now that Nintendo is starting to wade into the swimming pool, what greater game to jump right into the pool with than Metroid Prime, as Nintendo has outdone themselves once again, and has given us Gamecube owners even more faith and hope in Nintendo. For the past three years or so, Nintendo has always released a AAA game sometime in November, just before the Christmas rush, and now instead of a Zelda (which, sadly, got pushed back to February), we are presented with Metroid Prime. So how did Nintendo do? The answer awaits you.

p l o t / s t o r y
At one point in time, the Chozo were a very successful and striving race of creatures, utilizing the most recent technology through their everyday life. Once they had reached their society peak, they feared of the evil fighting going on in the Universe. As years passed, a huge meteor crashed into their planet called Tallon IV, which sent a massive amount of poisonous materials in the atmosphere, and the land was immediately injected with a cancerous element known as Phazon. Plants died, most creatures died, and only a few surviving plants and creatures lived, however they had mutated in to different types of hideous forms. Because of this, the Chozo left their known way of in hopes that a savior would return to the planet and save it.

Now we come to Samus Aran, who was an orphaned young girl who had been raised among the Chozo. She sliced through the Space Pirate’s operation at hand defeating all the Metroids and ultimately the Mother Brain, however the Space Pirates not all being loss, fled to find a planet that was full of resources, thus stumbling upon Tallon IV. After finding the Phazon and learning to harvest it, and their newly learned ability to morph and create massive monsters, they started diving deep into the mine shafts trying to find more and more Phazon. After tracking a distress call from Tallon IV, Samus comes upon the planet Tallon IV, ready to take the Space Pirates out once and for all.

The story in a nutshell? Samus is sent to kick Space Pirate butt and eliminate the threat on Tallon IV so the Chozo can return to their old lifestyle.

Now for those wondering where in the Metroid storyline that Metroid Prime fits in, after doing a little research (I’ve never played any of the previous Metroid’s by the way), in chronological order the story goes Metroid (NES), Metroid Prime (GC), Metroid II (GB), Super Metroid (SNES), and finally Metroid Fusion (GBA). For all the Metroid junkies out there, I’m sure you have memorized the whole Metroid story, and so I’m sure that when you play Metroid Prime, you’ll automatically lock-in to the story as it continues from the original Metroid on the NES.

g a m e p l a y
Now before we get started, I’m going to lay out the facts, Metroid Prime is absolutely amazing. I had never played the first three Metroids, however after messing around with a couple ROMs of the games, I started to realize what all the fuss was about Metroid. So lets get to business. Metroid Prime is hands down, the best first-person shooter I have ever played. When Retro Games was given the Metroid Prime project, a lot of gamers were kind of skeptical about what was going to happen to the series, and then when it was announced that Metroid Prime would be a first-person shooter, nearly EVERY retro gamer who had played the original Metroids grew wary of what was going to happen to Samus Aran and her adventures.

Now, Metroid Prime is in fact a first-person shooter. However, before Prime’s release, Nintendo was stating that it wouldn’t be a traditional first-person shooter, but would include a new aspect of first-person shooting, which Nintendo called a first-person Adventure. Lots of gamers thought this was crap, and especially Halo fanboys, who didn’t think this could be done. Well, of course Nintendo has pulled through with all promised, and I was very surprised when I first booted up Metroid Prime. Now that you’re actually seeing the action through the eyes of Samus Aran, you’ll actually see on her visor what she’s seeing. On the screen, you’ll see your gun sticking out in front of Samus like a normal first-person shooter, and the top, bottom, and sides of the screen are lined with different gizmos and numbers which are part of Samus’ visor. First of all, at the top of the screen is your health meter which goes up to 99, and above the health meter are the extra energy blocks. As you explore the planet Tallon IV, you’ll find energy capsules that will up your health meter by another 99 points, and so you can have well more than 99 points worth of health. On the right side shows how many missiles you have left, and on the left side is the danger meter, which will rise as you approach environmental dangers, and when you’re actually attaining damage, then the meter will be flashing different colors.

Unlike other first-person shooters, you don’t find other weapons that you can equip, however you do have multiple versions of Samus’ blaster cannon which is fused onto her right arm. You can find more variations of blasters to add to Samus’ blaster, like the Ice Beam or Wave Beam, and you can switch between the different Beams by pushing the C-Stick (yellow analog stick on the right hand side of the controller) in the respective directions to pull up the different beams. I like how this is worked in, as it’s easy to switch to a different beam on the fly, because when you’re fighting different aliens, you’ll have to learn which weapon is best to use against them. Another weapon that you’ll always have includes the missiles, which you use by pressing the “Y” button to activate the missile cannon (the front end of whatever beam you’re using will kind of peel out like an orange), and then press “Y” again to shoot the missiles out. Each weapon’s power varies as you fight different aliens, and finding which weapon is best to use can be a vigorous task. Aside from having a main beam type, each blaster also has a secondary weapon which is firing a charged shot by pressing and holding the fire button (“A”) and then once the charge has completed, let go of the button to send it flying. As does the blaster types, the charged shot will differ in strength and what it looks like, depending on which beam you’re using (Ice Beam, Wave Beam, etc.).

Using the different weapons is a vital part of Metroid Prime, and even the different puzzles require you to use different weapons in order to solve, and also like in the previous Metroids, you’ll have to fire your weapon at the doors in order for them to open. Some doors will open after being shot or blown by any kind of beam or bomb, while others will require you to use one of the different beams in order to open it. Aside from the whole first-person shooter view in general, the real question I had was how well the game was going to handle. To ease things up a bit in the game, instead of having the general double-analog stick first-person shooter set-up, you only control Samus with the main analog stick, since the C-Stick is used to choose the different beams to equip. Being a big fan of double-analog first-person shooters because of the freedom of where you look and all, which basically gave you total control over your player, I was real skeptical about how the controls would play out. After playing Metroid Prime, I think I could probably kick myself for even having doubt in the control scheme, because Nintendo has once again came through on their part. Like I said, you’ll only control Samus’ using the main analog stick, however kind of like the “Z” targeting system in the 64’ Zelda’s, if you press the “L” button, you’ll lock Samus’ look in that place and be able to side-step. You'll also use the ''R'' button to manually aim with your blaster, and you can't move while aiming unless you aim where you want to shoot, press and hold the ''L'' button, let go of the ''R'' button, and then side strafe or move forward to where your target is. All though the aiming is quite useful a couple times, I never found myself using it as I just used the lock-on to just lock-on to the enemy and start blasting away. I do have to admit that when first starting the game, that it will take many people maybe an hour or so to figure out the weird first-person control setting, however after playing the game longer, you’ll soon grow greatly accustomed to the way Nintendo set-up these controls. Anyway, when you use the targeting system, like in the 64’ Zelda’s, you’ll lock-on to the closest enemy, and if you keep holding it, you can move and strafe around that enemy all while pumping it full of...plasmic charges? The targeting system was worked well, and so fighting multiple enemies at once can now be done without losing a ton of health.

Of course, Samus isn’t invincible, and so you’ll most likely receive damage while you fight the game’s multiple Space Pirates and Metroids. Once defeating enemies, most of them will either leave health orbs or missile orbs, which will restore your health and missiles, respectively. Now for the first-person ADVENTURE part of the game, which includes the ability to jump, and also having to jump multiple platforms. Straying away from normal first-person shooter formulas where you’re basically on the ground the whole time, 90% of Metroid Prime has you going through multiple levels of platform jumping, which is why Nintendo was classifying Metroid Prime as a first-person ADVENTURE, and no ordinary first-person shooter. All though the game’s mechanics have been worked to perfection, there are a few problems that clash when it comes to jumping in a first-person view. The first problem is that since you don’t have the other analog stick to be able to look up, down, and all around, it’s kind of hard to jump the platforms and know whether or not you’ve made it. Near the beginning of the game, the platform jumping is a piece of cake, because you don’t have to fall maybe 40 stories to the bottom, however once you delve deeper into Metroid Prime, the platform jumping scenarios get increasingly difficult, with multiple hazards that make it even more difficult.

Among Samus’ different blasters (or beams, whatever you want to call em’), Samus’ different visors will take a big role in the game. The battle visor is the default visor that you’re looking through right through the beginning of this game, and this visor includes all the information that I’ve all ready told you like missiles, health, blaster choices, etc. Other visors include the Thermal and X-Ray visor, which are found in different parts of the Metroid Prime world, and each one will need to be used to continue farther into the game. The last visor is the Scan Visor, where there will be a magnitized little window in the middle of the screen, and you can lock on to different stuff to download information about it. Don't think this isn't used, because you have to unlock locks and stuff like that by scanning the switch, and plus it comes in handy when you're fighting a boss, as it will display it's weakness to you, so you can figure out how to find that weakness and which weapon is best used on it. If you don't like the Scan visor, or even the idea, don't worry to much about it, aside from unlocking a few doors, you don't have to scan every damn thing there is, however for those who do, you will know a helluva lot about the game and the backstory to it, as much information can be found by scanning different things in each room or area that you're in; the only bad thing with the scan visor is that you have no weapons while it's on, so either put it on and scan quick, or prepare to see a fuzzy black and white screen with Samus' scream haunting your dreams for the rest of your life. Later in the game, enemies start to become invisible, and also some hidden passages aren’t seeable by the naked eye (or would it be naked visor?), and so you’ll have to switch between the four visors effectively in order to succeed. You’ll also switch between the different visors by pressing up, down, left, or right on the D-Pad to switch visors, respectively.

Now that we’ve covered the adrenaline rushing battle aspects of the game, now’s time for the second reason why Metroid Prime can be considered more adventure than anything, and that’s the multiple puzzles that you’ll have to solve in order to move on. Puzzles range from extremely easy, to moderately challenging, all though there is usually always an easy solution to each puzzle, however it depends on how difficult you make it out to be. Returning from the previous Metroids, the Morph Ball has made its appearance, and many puzzles will have you using the morph ball to complete, and also there are many unreachable places that can only be reachable by the morph ball. The world in Metroid Prime is so huge, and many of the puzzles include a simple adventurous trek against the numerous elemental environments in Prime. Metroid Prime isn’t really divided up into individual levels, but is one huge level that is connected through portals and elevators, and much of the adventure part of the game includes back tracking through places that you’ve explored before, now that you’ve gotten the right ability or weapon to be able to proceed. So basically, the main goal of Metroid Prime is to seek out different power-ups like combo-missiles and other interesting abilities, while a couple of new abilities added to Metroid Prime, the Spider Ball, which allows you to roll up sticky tracks in Samus’ morph ball form, so you can reach places that were unreachable before. So as you explore the world of Metroid Prime, don’t be expecting to never see certain places again, because most likely you will, as everything is connected, and you could be like 88% complete with the game, but until you’ve acquired a certain power-up that you maybe have just now achieved, you might have to go back to the very first area you ever visited in the game to use it. Aside from solving puzzles as Samus in the regular first-person view, many puzzles will have you utilizing nearly every skill as a gamer you have in the morph ball mode to find your way through an area, or other things like that. Many doors that need to be unlocked in Metroid Prime will only be unlocked if you blast yourself into a cock-pit like indention where you go in the Morph Ball, and you’ll blow up bombs which usually powers something up, and you can now continue.

Whenever a game that’s as massive as Metroid Prime comes out, I expect there to be some sort of mapping system that will keep me from getting totally lost, which is fun for awhile, but when you’re in the same place for hours on end trying to figure out where to go, it gets very annoying. So, I was very pleased at how the mapping system was made in Metroid Prime. First, in the top right corner of the screen (or visor), a small 3-D model of the area you’re in will be there, and your location will be noted by a green arrow with a red tip. If you want to look at the entire map, press “Z” to bring up the 3-D map of the entire complex that you’re presently in, and you can do different things like zooming in and out, switching to different areas, etc. Oh and by the way, the Map is made up of entirely 3-D models of the areas that you’re in, so you can use the control stick to rotate up, down, and all around, or you can just make the map a 2-D top view interface if the 3-D models get you confused or you get motion sickness, however the 2-D view isn’t that useful because there are multiple levels in all the places you’ll explore, and so if you’re looking at the top view 2-D format, it’ll be hard to tell whether there is more than one floor or not.

g r a p h i c s
Using the Gamecube’s highly powerful graphic capabilities, Retro Studios has really done a wonderful job in creating some of the most exhilarating graphics that I have ever seen in any game. Now I didn’t say that they were the most realistic graphics, but they are truly the most colorful in any game. First of all, the world in Metroid Prime is basically one HUGE connecting landmass. Each of the different areas of the game will have at least one connection to one of the other game areas, and so you’ll do much backtracking as you gain new abilities to open up previously unreachable areas (or unseen). Each room in the different areas are full of an amazing amount of detail, whether it be small little water effects or a rock formation, to the giganticness of the “levels” in Prime.

Speaking of “giganticness”, the bosses in Metroid Prime can reach up to massive heights, including a giant bull like creature, a huge flower, and other massive bosses that you’ll have fun fighting. EVERYTHING in the game is also full of colors, whether it be the rocky caves of the Magmoor Caverns, to the wide-open spaces in Phendrana Drifts with lots of snow covering the ground, and also snow flakes falling to the ground.

Now I’ve stated that Metroid Prime’s visuals are simply amazing, whether it be the multiple colors of the wave beam as it’s shot, to the vastness of the worlds and gigantic size of the bosses, but I’ve yet to get started on how great the graphics are. The best part that Retro did with Metroid Prime has to be the element effects that appear on Samus’ visor. For example, when if you’re standing at a certain angle and there’s light behind you, you can actually SEE the reflection of Samus’ face in her visor. Whenever you run through a hot vent, your visor will start to steam; run through a cold vent and the visor will freeze for a couple seconds; get splashed by water, and you’ll see the splash effects all over your visor, and this includes in the rain where you can look up directly at the rain, and watch as rain particles gather on Samus’ visor. These elemental effects are truly top-notch, and like the rain particles gather on Samus’ visor when she looks into the rain, if you were to look up into the rain in real life, you’d also see the effects, especially if you have glasses and the rain collects on them. Another cool effect that may go unnoticed by many, and I only happened to notice when I was screwing around with the default blaster, is that when you get done shooting up a ton of enemies all in one small little room where you have to jump around and push the shoot button as fast as you can to defeat them before they kill you, or you just continuously shoot your blaster for a short amount of time, if you look closely at the end of your blaster, you’ll notice ripple effects that are coming out that resemble that your blaster was sort of overheating. I don’t think it means much of anything, only that Retro Studios are geniuses, and it’s a super cool effect.

Metroid Prime runs at a SOLID 60 frames per second, and not once did I ever notice any slowdown, not even during the most intense of alien fights, and not even when there were 10, 11, or even 12 enemies on the screen at once, was there any sign of a frame rate drop. Also, the transition from the standard first-person view of Samus to the third-person view of Samus in her morph ball is perfect, and truly captures the formation as she runs and balls up into the Morph Ball and as she unrolls herself and returns to the normal view.

s o u n d
Ever since the Ocarina of Time, there’s never really been a game with a soundtrack so killer where I’d actually look forward to playing the game just so I could hear the music. Once again, Nintendo (Retro Studios) has really delivered, and they must have used FedEX on the sound department, because the audio is simply put; AMAZING. The sound effects, whether it be the futuristic sounds of Samus’ blasters shooting out plasma beams (or ice, etc.), or the effects of splashing into water or shooting different surfaces, have all been fine tuned to accommodate Metroid Prime’s incredible gameplay.

I’m not really sure if there’s a way to describe the various sound effects, only that they are very pleasing, and if you were a bounty hunter in space in a futuristic setting, then I’m sure that the effects in Metroid Prime are exactly what you’d think they’d be. The music in the game is EVEN BETTER than the sound effects, and the background music really pulls you into the game, and sometimes it can be even creepier than Resident Evil, which has some pretty freaky music in certain areas. There’s nothing else left to say, except that Metroid Prime’s audio is almost perfect, and whoever said they were nothing but midi-files from the 80’s, they are WRONG.

o v e r a l l
Metroid Prime is EASILY the best game of 2002, and for some people the best game ever. Right now Metroid Prime is my second favorite game ever, as Zelda: Ocarina of Time still takes that number one slot, however Prime could soon close in on that number one spot in many gamers favorite game of all time list. Nintendo did a wonderful job of blending three of the most difficult elements in a game into one; Adventure, first-person shooter, and puzzles, and Prime will be a game that many people will talk about, even 10 years later. Much like Ocarina of Time, Metroid Prime is one of the most epic games I have ever played, and any Gamecube owner NEEDS to buy this game and add it to their collection. Also, as you explore the game, you’ll find more and more interesting power-ups, and combined with the gorgeous graphics, masterful music, and some very fine gameplay, makes Metroid Prime a new adventure almost every time you start playing. One of the only aspects that I didn’t like in the game, was how there could be a ton of action one second, and the next you see maybe one or two enemies for almost an hour or two of playing, but I guess the 50/50 shoot-em’ up and solve puzzle aspects did kind of even out the gameplay.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/07/03


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