Review by ShadowAspect
"A shining title in the dark dry times of summer for Wii."
Nintendo has for a long time done right with series that they term a "flagship titles"....at least for the most part. One of these series is Metroid. Originally done as an Adventure game.....Metroid has been slowly moving from Adventure games towards FPS style play but has (with the possible exception of Hunters) been able to keep that exploration feel to their games.
The newest title from this series and the subject of this review is Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. This final act in the Prime trilogy is the brain child of 2nd party representative Retro Studios to maximize usage of the Wii-mote uniqueness. While this game actually blurs classification between FPA and FPS (as this Prime game is closest to being a FPS over the others), there can be no mistake....this is one of the best games to come out on the Wii since launch.
While the overall issue of third party titles continues to plague Nintendo, there can be no mistake that Nintendo itself does know how to make worlds......deeply fascinating and entertaining worlds at that. This game here is easily a system seller. So lets take a closer look at this.....
Just a quick note, this game is part of a prequel trilogy so some prior knowledge of the storyline is recommended though not required.
After the defeat of the Ing and the Phazon created clone "Dark Samus", our erstwhile heroine Samus Aran leaves the planet Aether for some much needed rest (or to go kick someone else's backside, who can say). The residents of the planet, known as the Luminoth, send out a request to the Galactic Federation (the current dominant power of the Metroid Universe, and the assumed "Good Guys") to remove the final bits of Phazon corruption from their planet. Of course, the beings known as "Space Pirates" (the "Bad Guys") intercept this message (which raises the question should the Federation be looking into a better communication system?) and beat the GF to the punch.
As they scrounge around Aether they come across the only remaining source of Phazon on the planet....which sadly for them is in fact the entity Dark Samus. It quickly manages to take control of the entire Space Pirate species one ship and planet at a time before finally achieving total mastery. But then they disappear without a trace....
Several months later, a request goes out to all bounty hunters from the GF to meet at their flagship, the Olympus. Four of them respond, including Samus herself. This is where you start the game.
After landing on the Olympus itself, you get the chance to take a tour of the place before meeting with one Rear Admiral Dane (to whom it's implied that there's at least some familiarity between the two). Gathered with him are the three other hunters who have answered the call and an "Aurora Unit" or giant organic super computer that appears as one big brain (and serves as a hint to other games if you follow Metroid canon at all).
The request was made by the GF to seek out a missing ship called the Valhalla, which was recently attacked by Space Pirates and has gone silent. As the briefing is underway, a surprise Space Pirate attack breaks out on both the GF fleet and the planet they are in orbit over, Norion (a military outpost designed to serve as both a repair facility and as an R&R location).
The attack is swift and manages to knock out all planetary defense systems as well as a few starships in a matter of a few minutes. Samus has to now escape the Olympus, which has now been boarded by pirates as well as come under direct fire from the opposing fleet, and make her way to Norion to get the planetary defense systems back online before all hell breaks loose (and to stop the collision of a Phazon "Leviathan" now en route to Norion).
As the story progresses, and after some story elements and major battles, it turns out that the Space Pirates made not just one attack but three well coordinated attacks on three different GF targets of strategic importance.....and that due to events in the game Samus is now "corrupted" with Phazon energy but doesn't seem to be dying from it. Rather she's been turned into some sort of biological generator of said energy....however, how long does Samus really have before it kills her?
While story has neither been the strong suit nor the weak point of this game, one can say that they have done a splendid job of explaining the whats, wheres, and hows of most everything (with some minor exceptions). Things tie in well to not only the other Prime games but to the older games that take place afterwards in canon. Retro went all out in fleshing out storyboarding in the overall game pacing as well as in all the scans, lore, and monster bios that you pick up along the way.
I come from the school of thought that you don't need great graphics to make a great game.....something I continue to believe to this day. Perhaps you can say it's from all of the RPGs I normally go for or maybe I'm just old-school but for the most part gameplay doesn't revolve around graphical capacity unless it's a defining feature of the game itself (such as REZ or Okami for example).
On the other hand, what graphics do contribute to a game itself can be significant if it can portray and immerse the player in the game world itself....in a way graphics as an artistic statement can have a profound effect on both the game and the gamer itself.
One of the big arguments about all the current gen systems has been that the wii doesn't focus and thus is incapable of the technical prowess of other consoles. It has been mentioned that gaming without progressive scan isn't modern gaming at all and to a degree this is true....but it can also be pointed out that it doesn't matter how many numbers are on the left side of the "p" there is if you have talent and well imagined worlds in your design.
Thus is the case with this game. I can safely say that you wont find a more immersive, vibrant, and otherwise stunning 3D world in terms of presentation then here in this game. It's not going to topple games like Bioshock or Gears Of War in terms of realism or power, but then again this game never really attempted to go for the realism appeal in the first place.
What it did go for is a sort of homage between Tron and Battlestar Galatica. In some levels, Primary colors shine with a neonic highlight. It gives a strong sense of futuristic while at the same time is very easy on the eyes. Everything looks and feels like it belongs in the far flung future.
Then, it will turn your world on-side it's head by throwing you ancient ruins with it's mottled browns and varying hues of subtle colors of the indigenous plantlife. Next moment you can be high above the clouds using zip lines with the best that Tom Cruise could ever hope for in an environment that will make you wonder if George Lucas was the artistic designer or not.
Whatever the environment, wherever it is, this game nails the point home that "You Are Here". That says something.
Weapons and NPCs also seem alive for the most part. The competing hunters themselves look a bit "Generic Alien" but everyone and everything else looks spot on. From the nomadic and primitive Repticus aliens that come out of the shadows, to the Flash Gordon looking robots that run around with death ray guns....everything looks and takes a feel to the part that the environment lovingly places them in. Effects also do a great job of conveying power and fury. One could say that it's sort of an art form to put all of these pieces together.
Included in the game are a myriad of extras but the concept gallery really shows just how much effort Retro Studios went thru when they designed the universe. Be sure to check that out if you get a chance.
Much like graphics, unless it's the defining feature of the game, sounds serve the purpose of immersion into a gameworld and as a benefit to gameplay only...and much like the graphics in this game the sound also nails a home run in this department.
Composers Kenji Yamamoto, Minako Hamano, and Masaru Tajima have really outdone themselves this time and deserve special mention. Atmospheric doesn't begin to describe what their music is like. Everything fits real well. Perhaps my only complaint is that there's not more of it.
But to make up for that we have voice acting for the first time in a Metroid game...and it's really spot on. I will say this however...the voice actor Jennifer Hale had a really cush job on this VO assignment as Samus is still relegated to the "silent protagonist" role Nintendo is so prone to do....thus her "work" was nothing more then coughing noises, pretending to throw up, and moaning....that must of been a nice paycheck for that effort. However, everyone else really got into their parts and you can really tell in the sound of their voices that they were enjoying it as they went along.
It's not epic RPG acting but it's moving the story along nicely and kudos should go to them for that.
Sound effects are perfect.....everything sounds as you'd expect it to. From the ambient sounds of the wind swept plains to the low hum of the ship's engines.....it just fits the part perfectly. When you're firing the plasma beam cannon you really get the impression of solid streams of death coming out of your hand just thru sound alone.
Despite the fact that Metroid as a series isn't necessarily rooted in the FPS role, Prime 3 makes use of the unique potential of the wii-mote to perfectly capture the feel of "being the bounty hunter" and demonstrates the potential of all future FPS games on the wii in the fullest possible way. I feel that assuming a developer can put aside the need for bleeding edge graphical power as want to do currently this gaming cycle you will find alot of game developers looking real closely at the engine that Retro has made.
Just to specify ahead of time, that this is based on the "advanced" game play mode.....as the other modes cut down on the acknowledge time to, while simplify the game, also cut down on response time which is critical to this game.
Other motions with both the wii-mote and nunchuck also work exceedingly well......the grapple laser alone is extremely well done. You literally have to move the nunchuck in much the same way as both throwing something and tugging back on an object. It's just so cool to see it in action and feel how it functions there are no words to describe it. You'll move the wii-mote in much the same way to open doorknobs or to pull and push on objects. It's all just intuitive.
The one thing that may not feel quite as intuitive is morph ball jumping, which can now be done in either the normal standard way of using a bomb or by flicking the wii-mote up. Some mainstream reviews have complained about this being unresponsive but I've not really noticed as much unresponsiveness as was being reported. Perhaps, it's just the issue that you have to keep in mind that the motion itself does that as opposed to just feeling natural when you fling out your nunchuck like a lasso.....but it works when you need it to.
In general, the controls work perfectly. It can be a little confusing to get used to first off but thankfully, Retro provided a helpful tutorial at the start of the game and provides descriptions of all functions as they are made available in the game log files.
I only really have two minor complaints (epenthesis on minor).....one is that your gunship, while used more actively now in this game then before, still feels like it's just in there for special effects only.....there's a button to pop out your guns while you sit in the pilot's seat and honestly not one reason to even push it as you'll never get into ship fights or use your ship offensively except thru the use of "command icons" you active with the command visor. More could of been done to both the ship and visor function but perhaps it would of extended development time beyond acceptable limits.
The other complaint is that weapons have been simplified from before.....instead of changing out weapons, you get a generic weapon mock up and as you go along they evolve into new forms....but it's always for the most part the same system. I would have liked to see some more puzzle elements put in where you would have to use different systems and this was a questionable design choice in my opinion.
At the end of the day though, Nintendo has proven their system can compete with the big boys if you have really solid game design. This will easily be a system seller for Nintendo (which the wii needs now even with solid system sales still continuing). It may be the final prequel but Samus really went out with a bang. Here's to Retro and all of their hard workers, they came out on top at the end of the day.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 09/11/07
Game Release: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (US, 08/27/07)
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