Review by Arkrex

"Corrupted by fame"

The Space Pirates just don't know when to give up. Six months after the events that transpired on Aether, the Galactic Federation is still struggling to keep the power-hungry alien race at bay. But it has recently enlisted several top-notch bounty hunters to help out, including the legendary Samus Aran, heroine of the Metroid series. If the Space Pirates want a war, they've got it.

Metroid Prime 3:Corruption is the final chapter of the Metroid Prime trilogy, and to show that it means business, it begins with a big bang. Dark Samus is back, more powerful than ever before, and within the first hour of the game, she serves up a cold dish of revenge to the real Samus and her fellow bounty hunters. It is a miracle that they manage to survive the assault, or more precisely, a miracle of Phazon. The infamous mutagenic matter exuded by Dark Samus had impregnated itself into each of the bounty hunters during the attack, maintaining their vital systems against all odds, but corrupting their souls to its ill effects. This corruption is the major selling point of this closing swansong.

Samus can draw upon the Phazon coursing through her body to enter a state of rage, known as Hyper Mode. In doing so, she becomes impervious to most things and her weapon strength is magnified several times over. She basically turns into the biggest badass you've ever seen in a Nintendo Wii game.

If you aren't familiar with the Metroid Prime games, you have missed much. The series started on the GameCube and was billed as a "First-person Adventure". It took the exploration elements that made the 2D games so popular, added in some solid first-person shooting, and lathered it with some of the most impressive 3D visuals seen at the time. Corruption isn't that much different, and aside from the opening sequence that takes much inspiration from Star Wars, it's still all about Samus going it alone for the most part.

However, the Wii remote and nunchuk combo affords a much more natural control scheme than the GameCube's pad, allowing for precision aiming and some rather nifty motion-based gestures. Without automatic lock-on, Corruption becomes a more shooter-focused experience, much like Metroid Prime Hunters for the DS. It is definitely more satisfying knowing that you knocked an airborne Space Pirate out of the air with your pin-point skills, rather than the computer automatically doing so for you.

You can switch between several control types, of which Advanced gives you something akin to conventional mouse-and-keyboard FPS controls. The turning is still a bit slow, though, but this is how it always was with the Metroid Prime games, and seeing as there isn't any multiplayer to speak of this point is moot (I'm not complaining, though, and neither should you; take a look at Metroid Prime 2: Echoes's free-for-all, or Hunters's broken balance, if you want to know what I mean). The lack of buttons compared to the GameCube pad means that some things, like scanning items, are a more of an inconvenience than before, but overall the controls are fine and I really can't see myself going back.

Unfortunately, Retro Studios had to simplify several things to suit the Wii controls better (or I assume it's because of the new controls). You only have a single charge beam which is upgraded once, and the same goes for missiles, too. Compared to previous Metroid Primes's (with four different beam weapons apiece), this is a major downgrade and as a result, battles have become less strategic; as I said, the emphasis is now more on manual targeting, and so if you're pretty handy with pointing the Wii remote here and there, you'll find Corruption to be the easiest game in the trilogy, and that's without taking into account your ‘uber' Hyper Mode, too.

Corruption also happens to be the shortest Metroid Prime game out of the lot clocking in at around 10 hours or so, less if you're an experienced hunter. This can be attributed in part to the galaxy's breakdown into several planets and star-ships, all of which house several docking points on which can land your gunship, effectively giving you a heap of warp points and eliminating much of the backtracking seen in the previous games.

The game is also short because most of the time, it's all about sequentially solving a series of problems one after another; there isn't as much freedom as before. Find a new weapon at point B, return to point A to use it, go to point C to open the Seed, fight a big boss (which don't compare to Echoes's offerings), rinse and repeat. Corruption is perhaps too defined for a Metroid game and although you can turn off hints, this isn't recommended as you'll just meet dead-end after dead-end as you search out your next singular goal.

Corruption's formula is so hackneyed and it never captivated me to keep going. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved the pervious instalments (and I am one of very few who find Echoes to be the superior of the two), but Corruption never once deviated from what we've already seen and done (and better, too, in most respects). One example of this is with the screw attack upgrade which is gotten earlier, but still vastly underutilised - why? Sure, it's neat to rip stuff open with Samus's interactive grapple beam, but aside from your hand motions, it doesn't change the way the game is played. There were a lot of missed opportunities here and it doesn't only apply to the actual gameplay either.

The graphics are a subtle improvement over the GameCube prequels with slightly higher resolution textures and more frequent particle effects, especially noticeable when charging your beam and then letting it go. No complaints on the technical side of things, but the environments are quite lacklustre despite their enhanced visual clarity. For example, Bryyo hints at some HDR lighting, but fails to maintain the high aesthetic quality throughout its locales. And the sky city is rather plain and boring with a couple of towers jutting out from the skies and nothing else; it reminded me of strut layout of Metal Gear Solid 2's Big Shell Facility which was rather sparse, and that game is five years older, too.

Despite an epic beginning, Corruption soon falters under the weight of repetitiveness. As usual, there is a fetch quest to complete before the final battle, but locating the Energy Cells is much easier (and shorter) than the Artifacts and Keys that came before it. This isn't a good thing as the last hour feels incredibly rushed as a result. The final moments are somewhat underwhelming, too, and one can't help but feel that everything was slapped together without much thought. Reading all of the Chozo lore doesn't help much either. A pitifully weak ending to such a great series.

But I still had a good time with Corruption. The backtracking issue from Echoes was addressed and the Wii remote and nunchuk controls were highly intuitive and they made revisiting a familiar formula a somewhat new and exciting experience. Some great atmospheric chants accompany you once again, and I absolutely loved how they slotted in a remix of a very familiar Super Metroid theme in there, too. There is always a sense of achievement as you bolster Samus's arsenal over time, and despite the lack of weaponry, the ones here still pack a punch. There are also plenty of in-game achievements to accomplish (kill a certain number of enemies, perform a stylish kill, etc.) which will net you some medals used to unlock various artwork, music and ship decorations. It's nothing on Xbox LIVE's achievements, but it adds a fair degree of longevity to the otherwise short ride.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is a fine first-person adventure, and it is definitely one of the better Wii titles aimed at mature gamers. However, there is no denying that Corruption lacks the substance that made its prequels so awesome. Despite the near-perfect motion controls, the experience just isn't as exciting anymore. Perhaps this is due to Metroid Prime burnout - after all, Retro Studios have basically repeated the exact same formula twice over now, and the series isn't fast-paced enough to warrant many replays (of which this could be considered to be one). Nevertheless, if you're aching for some more Metroid Prime action-adventuring, you won't want to miss this finale.

VERDICT – 7.5/10 The formula has become rather stale.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 11/29/07

Game Release: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (AU, 11/08/07)


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