Review by ping5000
"A superb end to a great trilogy. The best Wii game yet and one of the best games of the year."
The Prime trilogy comes full circle with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. After the critically and commercially adored Metroid Prime and the low-key Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Retro Studios delivers a satisfying end to an absolutely fantastic series and delivers the best game yet on the Wii. In a wave of never-ending minigame compilations and half-assed PS2 ports with even more half-assed waggle controls, Corruption stands out as a game full of substance that provides much gaming nirvana. If you own a Wii and you consider gaming as a major hobby, you might as well be slapping the face of your god if you don't own this game.
Set 6 months after the events of Echoes, Samus and some other bounty hunters are tasked with vaccinating organic supercomputers called Aurora Units (AU for short) that are threatened by a virus strain most likely created by Space Pirates. While carrying out this mission, Samus and the other bounty hunters are attacked by a blast of phazon from Dark Samus -- Samus's alter ego, who was first revealed in the secret ending in Prime 1. Samus and friends are corrupted by the phazon and the only thing keeping them from being consumed by the corruption's by integrating themselves with a P.E.D. suit (Phazon Enhancement device). This integration also the bounty hunters to unleash much more devastating attacks upon their unfortunate enemies by utilizing the phazon coursing through their veins.
The story provides a much more epic conflict than past Metroid games. Fitting, considering this is the end in the Prime trilogy. Unfortunately, as interesting as all of this might sound, the story's largely forgettable. The voiceovers (yeah, they talk with actual vocals, a rarity in Nintendo games) are fair and and the writing settles on the norm. Cinematography in the cutscenes are generally mediocre, Twilight Princess -- a game basically designed from the ground-up on the GC -- trumps Corruption's cinematic values. Most of the story substance is going to once again come from the lore you find on the various locales you explore. There the writing's sharp and deftly written, providing a rich background of the various planets you'll visit.
A couple tweaks have been made in the third outing, the biggest being the controls. The back of Corruption's box states, "[...] the best first-person controls ever made!". While this claim is quite presumptuous, it isn't that ludicrous. As far as consoles shooter controls go, Corruption basically revolutionizes how first-person controls should work. It's precise, accurate, and natural. It trumps the dual-analog setup in so many ways that going back to it feels clunky. Not only that, but it gives Samus a feeling of nimbleness that wasn't quite prevalent in past Prime games due to the GoldenEye-esque setup in terms of movement. It's second only to the keyboard-mouse combo only because turning is a tad slow.
The new controls also allow Retro to throw more enemies at you at once, and the new controls are up to the challenge. If that's a bit too much, the new Hypermode will let you obliterate your foes with relative ease. Watch out though, staying in it too long will lock you in a corrupted state and if the corruption takes over, it's game over. However, it's easy to stave off the corruption -- just shoot like hell to vent it out. Hypermode makes some battles a bit too easy and makes it the easiest game in the trilogy because regular firefights don't provide much of a challenge. It's still challenging, but sometimes it feels like a cakewalk. Fortunately, the boss battles deliver a good demanding fight. Each one provides an epic encounter, and each one demands precision shots. The bosses provide the most hectic and fun moments in the game, and there's a lot of them.
Other than that, Corruption plays like the Prime games before it, except everything is much more tightly paced. The biggest change in the core structure is that you're not tethered to just one world. The areas you'll traverse are split into various planets. Each planet has its own aesthetic and feel, and Samus's galaxy feels grander because of this division. This also cuts backtracking a ton. Riding up and down elevator's a thing of the past, all that's required is a hop into your ship and choosing your next destination. This results in best paced Metroid game yet, reaching different areas becomes a breeze and the deliberate pace is still here, just less pronounced.
Little tweaks are included to accentuate the faster pacing. Beams are now stacked, ala Super Metroid, so there's no need to switch to different beams to open up different colored doors. Visors are now quickly accessible by holding on the minus button and then guiding the cursor to the mode of vision you desire. Your ship also acts as a portable save station. By landing your ship on various landing points, you can save and even lift off to another planet. It'll do much more, like full-on bombing runs when you net the proper upgrades. Your ship becomes a reliable helper throughout the game, and you'll get why real-life sailors treat their ships with such compassion. There's also a bunch of other possible-only-on-Wii mechanics as well. You'll use the Wii remote to twist, pull and push on levers. The nunchuck's used to whip out your grapple beam to rip off walls and enemy shields. Both mechanics work remarkably well, and it only further enhances the feeling that you're underneath that suit.
What couldn't be possible on the GC visually is possible on the Wii. Visually, it dazzles. It may not have the fanciest shader effects, highest polygon counts, etc., but Corruption succeeds visually almost purely on its art. Every single area's interesting to look at. The intricacy of some of the designs are simply incredible. The overlapping gears in the machines in SkyTown, the tribal backdrop of Bryyo, the list goes on and on. Everything is just interesting to look at. You might stop and look at things not because they're visual show-stoppers, but because they're intriguing. Retro also used the extra power of the Wii for grander areas, sharper textures, higher polygon counts and extensive bloom lighting for good measure. Some of the face models -- mostly Samus and humanoid characters in general -- are unsightly but its easily negligible since the game rarely zooms up to a face model. All of this also comes in a smooth, slick, never-hitching 60 frames. As far as Wii games go, Corruption sets the visual bar extremely high. It can even hold its own with some 360 and PS3 games. Crazy, yes. But see for yourself.
Aurally, it maintains the same level of quality of past Prime games. Creatures give off convincing noise and cries, ambient sounds are crisp and blend well with the environment, and weapon sounds sound punctual. The soundtrack is a lot more grandiose this time around, but some of the "orchestral" pieces are hampered by the MIDI; it sounds like something from the GBA at times. The heavily synthesized ambient tracks on the other hand, are as pleasing to the ear as they always were.
If there's one major point of criticism, it's how you're constantly being guided by an AU. The AU constantly provides objectives, and while that does keep things going at a brisk pace, it does pretty much destroy the sense going at it alone. Rarely will the AU ever give you the chance to figure out where to use your new upgrade, the AU will just tell you. It also destroys any sense of isolation, of going at it alone. You're constantly being watched over, for better and for worse.
Complaints aside, Corruption's an amazing send-off to a strong trilogy. It should take around 15-20 hours to finish and completionists will likely take much more time. An achievement system also encourages multiple playthroughs, because you can spend achievements to unlock art galleries (which are awesome), soundtracks and a ton of other extras. Metroid fans who've been with Samus since the beginning might find the changes in Corruption a bit unsettling, but for the rest of us, this is one hell of a game. Dust off your Wii or stop playing minigame compilation #432, it's time to let yourself go to the Wii's finest game and one of the best games of the year.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/02/07
Game Release: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (US, 08/27/07)
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