Review by mjc0961

"Just another poor game that's been far too overrated."

Metroid. A game series I had heard a lot about over the years from friends, TV advertisements, and the Internet. It was never a game that caught my attention, and as such I never bothered buying any of the games. But one day, I saw a copy of Metroid Prime in the store for $20, as it was now a Player's Choice title. I thought back to all my friends telling that this game was one of the best they had ever played. Well, maybe they enjoyed it, but Metroid Prime is easily one of the worst games I have ever played in my entire life.

STORY (2/10): There really isn't much to be had in terms of a story. It's just more the same “the space pirates are bad and Samus is trying to get rid of them all” plot from the rest of the games. From reading the manual, you'll find that the set-up for this game is that some of the pirates are using a substance called Phazon to mutate life forms, presumably to use as warriors, and Samus has tracked them down and is going to put an end to the experiments. After that, you're own your own. You can develop some kind of story through scanning various objects throughout the game. These are divided into two sections: Chozo Lore and Pirate Logs. The Chozo Lore tells you the history of the Chozo race on the planet before Phazon radiation made it too difficult for them to live there. However, this really doesn't do anything to add to the plot of the game. I find it comparable to, say, reading up on Albert Einstein's childhood before you study the meaning of the E=mc^2 equation in a Physics class. Sure, it's interesting if you're into that kind of stuff, but otherwise adds nothing to what you're actually doing. The second part, Pirate Logs, do add a little bit more. You can find out what kind of experiments the pirates are doing. What's failed, what's succeeded, what kind of enemies you should expect to come up against soon. But other than those two… Absolutely no story. No character development; no motivation for Samus's actions other than “she is good and the space pirates are bad.”

CONTROL (3/10): Really quite poor for a first person shooter… I know, I know. It's a first person “adventure.” That doesn't change the fact that it's first person and I'm shooting, and that the controls make it an extremely difficult task. You see, the Control Stick moves Samus in all directions; push up or down to make her walk in the respective directions, and push left and right to make her turn. Of course, now we want to aim. Quite an important action in any FPS, as the target is rarely standing right in front of you. Same applies to this game. Now, logically, aiming should be done with the C-Stick, right? Wrong. Instead, if you want to aim, you must hold down the R Button and then use the Control Stick to aim. But now you can't move, and your only chance of dodging incoming fire while you aim is to jump. But wait! What about strafing? Push and hold the L Button and use the Control Stick. Now you can strafe, but your target reticle is locked in the center of the screen again. To try and correct this screwed up mess, if you use the L Button when facing an enemy, you will lock onto that enemy. Helpful? Not as much as it could be. You usually have to end up stopping to aim at the enemy, then locking on. After you get the lock, you can then release the aim button and are now free to strafe, dodge, and return fire as you see fit. Although it gets easier to deal with as you keep playing, it's really not ideal. Other platform games have done it better.

GRAPHICS (6/10): Yep, only a six. Put the torch and pitchfork down, I have my reasons. Most of the graphics look pretty good, but there are some flaws. First of all, the lava in this game is basically a flat pond of goop with some animation. Come on, we can do better than that by now, can't we? Also, the two new visors you will find later in the game will make things really hard to see. One of them is designed to help you find enemies in dark areas and other hidden heat signatures. The problem lies in everything that isn't heated turns purple, and you won't be able to see where there are hallways because all you can see is purple. In other words, you walk into a dark room, equip this visor, and find a heat signature that you can tell is an enemy. So you shoot at it… Shoot, shoot, shoot at it… And it still isn't dead yet. Finally you take off the visor and find that you've been shooting at a wall, which was pretty much invisible as it wasn't heated. The other makes everything black and white, which is annoying enough already, but it also has a limited sight distance. You will only be able to see things that are so far away from you, and after that, everything is black. This also has a negative effect on combat, as certain enemies can only be seen with this visor. However, if they get away from you, the limited sight distance comes back into play, meaning you can't see them until they get close. Other than those flaws, the graphics are pretty sweet. Your visor will get fogged up if you walk into steam, it will get raindrops on it if it is raining, and the enemies look good. The environments could use some work, though.

SOUND (8/10): Sound is decent. I've never been that big on music in games; as long as the music isn't the annoying "gets stuck in your head for weeks" kind of music I will not have any problems. And the sound effects are good, everything seems to sound the way you think it would sound.

GAMEPLAY (2/10): Ah, the gameplay. What really counts in a game. I don't care how bad all the above things are in a game as long as I am having fun. However, Metroid Prime has failed me here. There are a lot of things I want to mention, so I will break this section up.

Platform Jumping and First Person Don't Mix
Right. This is a first person game. And yet, there is a large amount of platform jumping. The problem? Since it is a first person view, you only see ahead of you, not where your feet are. As such, your view will have you think that you are on the end of the platform, when actually there is still quite a bit of room between where you are standing. Why does this matter? You will usually need the full length of your jump to reach the next platform. So you THINK you are on the edge, you jump, don't make it, and end up in some harmful goop. Now you have to go back and start all over again. Of course, you can try to correct this by going into Morph Ball mode and rolling to the edge of the platform - just be careful not to roll off.

Lack of Story Turns This Into a Large Scavenger Hunt
This is what ruined the game for me. In all honesty, I was loving the game at first. I figured, “Okay, follow the map, get an item, then do it again until I get back what I lost and then this will go somewhere cool.“ But as I kept playing… You just kept getting items. More and more I was disappointed by the lack of any kind of plot development. By the end of the game, I didn't feel any kind of accomplishment for what I'd done. I just thought, “I guess the scavenger hunt is over now. That was incredibly unfulfilling.” Basically, all you do in this game between boss fights is just go to the place your map pointed out to get a power-up, and then repeat, repeat, repeat until the final boss.

Little Challenge
This game is too easy. The biggest challenge I encountered in the game is the platform jumping. Other than that, it is easy. The enemies provide little challenge (once you get used to the bizarre controls and can dodge sufficiently, that is) , and if you are having a bit of trouble with a boss, you can just scan it to find its weakness. Speaking of bosses, even they are pretty simple once you figure out their weakness and attack patterns. The only trouble I ever had was hand cramping from holding down the L button to keep the target reticle locked on. Note that there is a hard mode, however, any challenge added there isn't enough to make me play the game again when you throw the other problems in. If anything, it just means more hand cramping, and I'll pass on that.

Scan Scan Scan!
To do just about anything not related to shooting or platforming in this game, you have to use your Scan Visor. Want to use that elevator? Scan it. Want to activate the platforms? Scan the control console. Want to learn anything about this game? Scan everything you can find. So much scanning... Of course, you can choose not to scan anything but the bare minimum, but you will probably get stuck quite a few times. Basically, there's plenty you need to scan, and plenty that you don't need to scan. The problem lies in not knowing if it was important until after you've already completed the scan.

I'm On a Planet?
This game is supposed to be set on a planet. But it doesn't feel like that at all. You have distinct sections: an overworld, ruins, a fire section, an ice section, and the mines. They are all connected by elevators. You don't feel like you are on a planet because of this. You feel like you are in different levels. Now, last time I checked, planets aren't divided into different areas by elevators. So why is this game? Oh, what's with the doors? Okay, supposedly the space pirates put them there. That's nice for them, but the presence of doors still subtracts from what realism the environments do have when you're not riding an elevator from the ice section to the fire section, especially when they act as loading screens and it takes a few seconds for them to open while the game loads the next room.

Too Much Backtracking
Remember when I said you get told where to go by the map? Well, you will almost always have to go back through the areas you've already completed to get to the section where you need to go next. Not only is this incredibly boring and tedious, but it drags out the game. Sure, they TRY to make it challenging by throwing more powerful enemies into some of the areas, but by that time you will have enough weapons to easily destroy them, which only adds to the tedium. Why can't the save stations act as warp points as well? Not even all of them need to be warp points, just enough of them so that you don't have to go back through two areas just to get to the area where your next item is.

Morph Ball
Ah, the Morph Ball. The parts of this game I enjoyed the most are the very few areas where you are put in a side view of a small area and you have to use your Morph Ball abilities to navigate to the other side. Something about the Morph Ball is rather fun, but it's not enough to make the game any better.

So, to review, too much platform jumping, no sense of achievement, little challenge, too much scanning, lacking environments, and too much backtracking. Fun? Not for me.

PLAY TIME/REPLAYABILITY (2/10): I finished with less than 20 hours of game time. There are things to try and make the game longer, however. You can look for all of Missile Expansions and try and scan everything, but when you can complete the game without doing those things, there really isn't much point to it. And as I said before, there is a Hard Mode to be had after completing the game, but it's not enough to make me overlook all the other problems with this game and go through it again.

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: Obviously, as this review is written after the Player's Choice release of the game, any long time Metroid fans already have this game and my review isn't going to mean anything to them. However, if you're considering this as your first step into the Metroid franchise, I'd personally tell you to just steer clear of it altogether. Of course, if you must try it, you always have the choices of renting it or borrowing it from a friend before you throw down $20.

FINAL SCORE: 2/10


Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 11/16/04, Updated 07/16/07


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