Review by Yoshimaster
"This is the perfect rendering of a first person Metroid game."
Nintendo and Retro Studio's bold move of creating a first-person Metroid game was surprisingly successful with Metroid Prime, considering how many fans opposed its creation. Before its release, fans doubted if it would live up to the Metroid name, and felt that a first-person game wouldn't feel like the Metroid they all knew and loved. I felt that way myself when I heard that a first person Metroid game was in the works for Gamecube. But once I opened the box and popped the game in, all doubts melted away, and I realized what a masterpiece this game would be. Strangely, not everyone went through this process. After playing and sometimes even beating the game, some fans still thought that a first-person Metroid game such as Metroid Prime wouldn't have the right Metroid feel they all knew and loved, and would not live up to the Metroid name. Well, I'm here to tell you that they are wrong. This game is perfect. Read on to see what I mean.
Like most Metroid games, the story is somewhat hollow at first, but is fleshed out throughout the game through cutscenes and, exclusively in Metroid Prime, scans of creatures and objects. This game takes place between Metroid I and II, when the Space Pirates are still weakened by Samus Aran's attack on their Zebes base in the first game. Remaining Space Pirate forces (along with surviving Metroids) are shipped to their Tallon IV base. A former home for the Chozo, Tallon IV was struck by a meteor many years earlier. The meteor contained a highly radioactive substance known as Phazon that destroyed most of the plant and animal life, while mutating others. The Chozo could no longer live there, and so most fled, while those who remained feeling their minds distorted by the Phazon's power. The Space Pirates, of course, took advantage of this substance, and established a base on Tallon IV to mine the substance and use it for military purposes. One of the results of this mining is the Metroid Prime. During this time, Samus follows an emergency beacon coming from a space station orbiting Tallon IV. Disturbed by the Phazon-involved experiments there, and the presence of one Meta-Ridley, Samus goes to Tallon IV to delve deeper into the new mysteries. Once on Tallon IV, you begin to see how twisted the Space Pirates' experiments really are, and how little they respect the ancient Chozo race.
Holy crap, this game's graphics are better than Halo's. Seriously. From the first moment you see planet Tallon IV and the orbiting space station in the opening cutscene, following the movie quality title screen, you know this game will be making the most out of the Gamecube's graphical capability. The detail in this game is just incredible. Charged shots distort light, Samus's reflection appears in the HUD when bright blasts occur in close proximity, Samus's bones are visible in the X-ray visor, condensation appears on the visor when near steam, static appears when near electrical enemies, test tubes are filled with preserved specimens and body parts, and so on and so on. Enemies and Bosses alike look very realistic, especially the Metroids, and Samus herself looks better than she's ever looked before. Later in the game, when she dons the Phazon Suit, she looks flat-out badass. The environments are also very well done. The Chozo ruins give you a sense of haunting as you pass through corridors empty for centuries, and enter crumbling chambers taken over by plant life; Magmoor caverns often give you a feeling of claustrophobia as you travel through tight passages, while boiling lava is always a heartbeat away; Tallon Overworld looks like an infinite jungle; the Impact crater looks enormous from the outside, but is small and hazardous inside; and the Phendrana Drifts are simply breathtaking. Not once throughout the game do the graphics disappoint.
With graphics that good, you're probably thinking: the gameplay must be terrible, since Retro Studios put all their effort into the graphics. While this is often the case nowadays, it's not so with Metroid Prime. Despite its new appearance, Metroid Prime still plays like a Metroid game. There are plenty of platforming exercises blended with good-old-fashioned shoot-em-ups. And, although this game does have a lock-on feature, shooting the enemy isn't always easy. For example, the space pirates will jump and dodge, often putting an obstacle between you and your target. Plus, with many enemies who shoot back, you'll often be too busy dodging their attacks to shoot. Like all Metroids before it, Metroid Prime starts you off with minimal attacks and abilities, forcing you to search the planet over for upgrades. Besides all the familiar items, like Morph Ball, Space Jump and Ice Beam, the visors have been improved drastically. Instead of the simple X-ray visor of Super Metroid that can reveal secret paths, Metroid Prime has four unique visors: the Combat visor (the default one), the Scan visor, the Heat visor, and the X-ray visor. The Heat visor and X-ray visor allow you to see certain enemies, and flat out look awesome. The Scan visor, however, is completely unique. Throughout the game, you can use the Scan visor to download enemy information, Space pirate logs, Chozo lore, and more, all of which help to flesh out the story.
As with graphics, there is hardly a lack in sound effects. Beams sound like they should; creatures make distinct growls and shrieks, Samus's footsteps sound different on different terrain, and the Space Pirates sound terrifyingly vicious as they fight. In fact, if you turn off the music, you can almost always hear a continuous ambience that fits the environment very well. The music is also very good. This game had a perfect blend of catchy new tunes and excellent remixes of favorite Metroid classics.
Extras and Unlockables: 8/10
This game has a fair amount of unlockables. There's an image gallery available, depending on how many things you scan in the game. where you can view early sketches and designs for Samus and other characters. In addition, there's an unlockable Metroid Fusion suit and the original Metroid game, both of which can be unlocked by connecting a Game Boy Advance with a complete Metroid Fusion game to the Cube. These help boost the somewhat poor replay value, but not by much.
This is a huge game, and you'll undoubtedly play it for hours. However, once you're done, there's not much left for you to do. You can try playing again on Hard mode, or you can try beating it 100% (there's a secret ending when you do so), or play and beat the unlockable Metroid game. But aside from that, there's not much for you to come back to. (The upcoming sequel, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, will improve on this with a four player multiplayer mode.)
With a game as complicated as this, it's only natural that the controls would be as complicated, which they are. Fortunately, while they may seem confusing at first, as every button has at least one unique use, most of the time you'll spend aboard the space station at the beginning of the game will be spent learning how to use things and getting used to them, which is easy thanks to the constant pop-up messages giving you hints. You'll learn how to lock-on, use the Morph Ball, use the Scan visor, use the Grapple beam, etc. And thanks to the Gamecube controller's ingenious design, learning the controls won't take too long, so you can still enjoy the game while you're doing it. Leave none behind, as they say.
-Realistic sound effects
-Metroid style gameplay
-Low replay value
-Controls confusing at first
Rent or Buy? Buy. Definitely. This is a game no Metroid fan should be without.
Final Word: This is the perfect rendering of a first person Metroid game. From start to finish, Metroid Prime is a blast. You will not be disappointed at all. I can't begin to describe to you the overwhelming nostalgia when you first land on Tallon IV and blast away at Zoomers, while a beautiful remix of the original Metroid theme plays in the background, nor the sense of alert when you find out you must escape the space station, nor the feeling of dread when a test tube containing a live Metroid in a darkened room bursts, nor the feeling of glee when you blast a Space Pirate with a charged missle and watch it tumble across the room, using realistic "rag doll" physics. If you own a Gamecube and don't have this game, get it now! What are you waiting for? Metroid Prime 2: Echoes will be out before you know it! Hurry up and buy it!
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/16/04
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