Review by BartV
"Metroid Prime is a near flawless experience that perfectly captures the essence of the series in beautiful 3D."
First of all, I apologize for bothering you with yet another Metroid Prime review. There are almost a hundred reviews. So why do I review this? If you didn't know already, this is easily the best Gamecube game so far in my honest opinion (Metroid Prime 2 is possibly better, but I don't know that yet as I don't have it). When I saw, heard and read things about this truly Prime game, I couldn't care less for it. It seemed boring; it was a "First Person Shooter" and I don't care for First Person Shooters. Yet, I felt some enjoyment hearing its name because of all the hype. But it was still a First Person Shooter.
Even though I didn't like Metroid, the "shooter" game, I tried Metroid: Zero Mission. No, I didn't have good hopes; I expected this typical shoot-them-up type of game. Did you know that I was absolutely incredibly wrong? Well, I was. It was so much fun that I gained other feelings towards Metroid Prime too. If this game was fun, than Metroid Prime would be too, even though it looked like a FPS. I knew it wasn't, because Metroid: Zero Mission didn't feel like a TPS for even a second.
I got it eventually, and yes, I was excited and couldn't wait to put the disc in my Gamecube and try it out. Then, at the title screen, I heard this brilliant music. I was impressed by how mysterious it was with its strong beats, followed by dimmed beats and this Sci-Fi sound. But of course, I wanted to play the game, so I started a file, hoping this game was a good purchase. I remember my first impressions were a mixed bag. While I thought it looked brilliant, I had a whole different feeling than with Metroid: Zero Mission. The speed in which Samus turns her head was annoying, the jumping in First Person perspective was annoying, aiming in the air was annoying.......I did find going into a big Space Ship to be quite exciting, but I wasn't too sure if I was going to like this game.
The Space Ship part (first part of the game) was fun, but not too special in my opinion. I knew there was going to be a big world for me to explore after that, so I didn't fear for the worst yet. The things that annoyed me in the very beginning weren't annoying anymore since I got used to them. The scanning, while some people hate this feature, was one of the best things I did inside that ship. I was impressed by how every monster had such a detailed story and that the pieces of story were presented so......real.
When I finally arrived at the beautiful and mysterious planet Tallon IV, I knew that I was going to like this game. The enormous environments were so immersive; it felt like walking there myself. I liked the lock-on system, which made it much easier to shoot. I liked the incredibly detailed graphics. I liked the volume changing of the music. I loved the scanning, which told me every bit of Tallon IV I wanted to know. There were things that seemed weird though, like doors in the middle of a jungle that connect rooms and passageways, but the rest felt so real. This game didn't and still doesn't feel like a FPS at all. No matter how many times you may say it, it is NOT a FPS, but it's a mixture of shooting and exploring, collecting (information, items) and puzzle-solving. Actually, only the first thing is really presented in FPS's (well, duh!). It was like a new genre.
As I said before, I really liked the scanning. It shows you the information about so many things. The Chozo's, the Space Pirates and their plans, but also things about the world itself. And that is probably the most atmospheric part of the game; the story. Instead of forcing you to watch cutscenes or read a whole lot of text, you need to scan things if you want to know more about the story. While lot's of games let you read texts or watch cutscenes, which totally suck you out of the game, this game's story is presented while playing, which means you will stay immersed in the game. Also, it means you only have to follow the story if you want to. Don't want to know anything about the story? Then you don't have to. And believe, it kills a lot of frustration. The story makes this game feel like an experience, not a game.
There is such a variety in the game. The story flows incredibly well, but so does the gameplay. While it's normal that games get harder as you progress, this game makes the old area's harder too. As you get more upgrades, the earlier areas will be enhanced with stronger monsters. It feels like the Space Pirates noticed Samus's presence and try to stop her. Yes, that does mean that you'll be backtracking a whole lot, but the environments are so big and detailed that backtracking has been made fun. There are so many paths to choose on your way. It keeps you interested.
As you progress, you will find better equipment for your heroine. You'll use them to face some tough bosses. While they aren't overly hard, they are so big and threatening that you really feel like playing a "higher" form monster. The same goes for regular monster designs; a lot of detail and a lot of impressive design. Don't expect some dumbasses either. Especially the Space Pirates have a high AI. These smartasses try to hide from your shots and shoot at you while you're not looking. There are games in which killing monsters feel like killing monsters. This game is a lot more naturally. The monsters feel more like animals, looking at the way they are presented on the world. It makes this game even more real. As for the items......it's the typical Metroid thing with the same kind of items. I like the different visors. They sort of "complete" the unmatched atmosphere of the game. Looking at your surroundings with a heat sensor and looking with your see-through-things visor is just impressive. It's just so exciting to see your surroundings in purple with only the heat-producing things to observe.
The most impressive thing in the game are the graphics; the environment design, the detail, the smoothness......The environments are big and it's a real treat to explore them. It's really a big, flowing world and not a "level" world at all. The environments are so immersive that a regular monster that appears out of nowhere makes you jump out of your chair. There's a jungle/forest, snowy area, caves filled with lava, a big ruins area and even more. The best thing though, is the detail. In close range, everything is clear with strong colours and a lot of detail. Far away, everything gets vague and less detailed, just like in real life. They only did that with the outside areas, so the creators knew when to use this effect too. It's the same underwater: you're movement is slowed down, it's less easy to see things and your visor will be wet when you get out of the water. Too bad some things are a bit plain, like the lava and the water, but so what? The rest is perfectly detailed with every little stone, plant or whatever put in such a way that it makes the game realistic. Good thing too, is that the game keeps playing smoothly. Only at a later stage, you'll be going to notice some slowdown, but it's not frequent or slowed down enough to annoy. It's quite impressive how smooth the game plays with so many amazing effects and details. Oh my, I didn't even mention the fun effects? Snow and rain falling from the sky, heat and air making your visor look vague, water that makes your visor wet.......yes, Retro has thought of all these little things.
So, what are the atmospheric things so far? Yes, everything. And we are going to add one thing to that list; the music and sound effects. I already told you about the amazing music at the menu screen, but it's just as impressive through the entire game. Diablo 2 had music that didn't take over the game, but instead had dimmed music that was there to add atmosphere. This game does the same thing, but it also features more differences in volume and tone and it just sounds better. It's dimmed in the background, which creates that immersive feeling. There are some songs that were taken from previous Metroid games and remade. The music at Tallon Overworld for example will surely sound familiar if you played previous Metroid games. It's the type of game that doesn't want to let you hear a beautiful song or something; the music is there for the atmosphere. It does its job absolutely perfectly. The soundtracks fit perfectly too. They are often in a Sci-Fi and mysterious style, which fits the mood of the game.
This game also has a sheer amount of sound effects. Your suit sounds very metallic when you walk underwater and you can hear how much trouble it has moving underwater. You can hear your footsteps. You can hear the raging weather. But what I especially like are the cries from the monsters. They are so spine-chilling like when a huge beast screams, it's even more shocking when they bash into you. See? Even sound effects can be atmospheric.
So there you are. You got yourself an incredibly atmospheric game. It's so atmospheric that it's more like you're on an adventure yourself. It's not a short adventure either. Metroid: Zero Mission for example was a four hour game, but this game is definitely five times that. Twenty hours is a safe bet and it's probably more if you like scanning, collecting every little item you can etc. If you still find this to be too short, then turn of the hint system immediately. I bet the playtime will be much longer. There are even bonuses to unlock, like a Hard mode. You can do speed runs for different endings or go through it again to find every scan and item and complete it 100%. There are just so many reasons to play this game again.
Well, if there is one game that should be nominated for the title perfect, this would be the game. While a hundred percent perfection is impossible, it's so darn close that you can safely call it perfect. This is, in my eyes, the best and most complete product form Nintendo so far. Let's hope they keep going on like this. Have fun with it and goodbye!
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/10/04, Updated 08/09/10
Game Release: Metroid Prime (Player's Choice) (EU, 10/10/03)
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