Review by nintendosega
"Finally I can see what the big deal is with this franchise"
Many critics and Nintendo fans alike admire the first Metroid Prime game, often considering it one of the best things Nintendo did during the Gamecube era. The game's one of the top-rated games of all time, and that's why I was so surprised when I played it and found it to be a completely boring and tedious experience. Granted, I can see exactly why it was considered a "good" game by many...it featured an atmosphere and environments so incredible it was beyond anything most people had experienced. To me, though, it was like going to a museum; some of the things there are amazing to look at, but damn, is it frigging boring! Nothing happened in the game at all, you simply wandered through (and through again...) these vast environments, solving puzzles and getting new powerups...but there was no story to speak of (unless you bothered to read the walls,) the lock-on shooting felt robotic, and you had to scan objects in the environment constantly in order to progress, so it became something you had to do in EVERY room for fear of missing anything. Still, the amazing environments, atmosphere, and the feeling of wondering what type of environment I'd face next kept me playing until I was at least half way through it...then I quit out of frustration. It was more than I could say for the sequel, which I played a few hours into before giving up. (Same flaws, plus lame Dark worlds, not as varied or vibrant worlds, very little in the way of in-game help,) and yet somehow I always knew Metroid Prime 3 would be good. I knew Retro Studios had learned from their mistakes with Metroid Prime 2, (the sales of which they were reportedly disappointed by,) and I really thought the Wii remote could bring something fresh to the experience. Metroid Prime 3 doesn't disappoint and despite the re-appearance of some familiar flaws, the game's much faster-paced than its predecessors, and features an actual story with cutscenes and voice acting, and features vastly superior controls and a bit less backtracking.
Graphics: This is a very nice-looking game. While it admittedly doesn't look as impressive visually as Super Mario Galaxy, there's much more going on here, and the environment sizes are obviously much larger. One thing that's apparent very quickly is the excellent lighting effects, which do NOT appear overdone in the least, unlike certain games on the Xbox 360, and these instances of bloom lighting, particle effects, and the amazing art direction create some incredibly stunning environments that really shine despite the weaker hardware. Graphically the game's about on par with Halo 2, but features significantly better lighting and particle effects, as well as much bigger environments. The attention to detail in certain areas is amazing. At one point, I was walking down a hallway with big windows facing the setting sun. As I walked through the hallway I was blinded by the sunlight every time I passed a window, while the sunlight realistically poured into the hall. In some environments you can literally see the dust in the air, and I can not stress this enough; the art direction is incredible. During one point, when visiting a fire-based planet, I suddenly stepped into a warp orb, and Samus was then warped (without any sort of explanation) into the middle of a snowy world, with big flakes of snow pouring from the sky, completely surrounding me. As I stood and looked over the cliff, I could see 2 stone golems standing on either side of me, the light from the nearby torches reflecting off their metal faces as the snow poured around everything....Really, really incredible stuff. It's during "surprise" moments like these when the game truly comes to life. Graphically we've got a game that shines due mainly to the outstanding art direction and attention to detail. There are, though, obvious strains on the hardware. Unfortunately, load times are frequent and disruptive. Very frequently, when you shoot open a door, you'll have to wait from 5-10 seconds for it to open for you as the game loads the next area. There's a lot of "behind-the-scenes" loading when just walking through the environments as well, and as a result at times the game just doesn't feel particularly smooth. I guess it really couldn't be helped, though, and it was definitely worth it when you get to look at these environments. What I would have liked to have seen improved, though, was the jaggies...there are a few areas in there with them and they're pretty noticeable when compared to the otherwise completely smooth environments. On a final note, presumably due to Retro Studios's inexperience in directing cutscenes, the character models are a bit lacking. During the cutscenes there's very little character animation and they don't look natural at all, only talking if standing still and staring directly at the screen. Samus herself (when seen outside her suit,) looks like something dug up from the Dreamcast launch. Despite these flaws, though, it's a very nice-looking game and it's a noticeable step (if not a huge leap) over its predecessors. Where it really stands out, though, is in the completely amazing lighting and particle effects, which put the game in another world. Superb art direction, as well.
Gameplay: This is a very different game from past Prime's. For one thing, rather than focusing on one gigantic planet, Metroid Prime 3 instead features several smaller (although still gigantic) ones. There's still backtracking at times, but it's not NEARLY as much of a pain as in past installments, as there's always morph ball cannons, trains, etc. to take you quickly from one part of the planet to the other. Samus's ship can also be called at certain landing destinations, and can be ridden to other sections of the planet or other planets entirely. Although the game still features scanning, it's no longer how to do "everything." In Prime 3, much of the scanning has been replaced by Wii Remote gesture controls, all of which work very well and add a lot to the experience. There's a bit more emphasis on shooting and a little less emphasis on platforming and puzzle solving....all of this works to dramatically improve the gameplay and pacing, and for the first time in the series, a Metroid Prime game is actually FUN to play. The controls are nearly perfect. There's still a lock-on but it no longer truly locks on, it's more of a camera change, focusing on the enemy, but it's your job to line up your shot using the Wii remote. On the default (normal) sensitivity, it feels great, moving extremely quickly and easily beating out dual analog. The nunchuk's motion is used for things like pulling shields off enemies (very satisfying) and the analog stick obviously moves Samus around. The shooting itself is very fun, the enemies are frequent but not to the point of being annoying, and the isolated atmosphere of the series has not been lost, despite the more action-packed gameplay. This is still very much a game of traveling through these isolated and sometimes eerie environments and opening doors, getting powerups, etc. This time, though, it all seems to have a purpose. I can not stress enough how much the existence of a STORYLINE improves the game. The game's environments are varied and all feature some imaginative touches. One particular standout is a "town in the sky" as you navigate from building to building via zip-line in some truly fun sequences of shooting. The Space Pirate hideout, with its acid rain and bullet trains, is also a standout. While these environments still don't necessarily reach the imagination or variety of some of the rainy forests, lava caverns, and snowy wastelands from the first Metroid Prime, these are easily superior to those in Metroid Prime 2; Echoes and they stand on their own.
It's not to say the game's without fault....too often before finishing up an objective on a planet, the game requires you to sometimes go BACK through them to do things like powering up generators, etc. It gets a little repetitive, and I'd much rather have had maybe an extra planet or two instead of that filler. Same for a fetch quest near the end of the game. Throughout the game there are various energy plugs scattered throughout the environments and you can collect them. By the end of the game, you need a certain amount to progress and if you don't have them...you've gotta get them. Using VERY vague hints given to you. These planets are still very huge and it was downright impossible for me to find the 1 plug I needed without a FAQ, as the hint the game gave was so vague it steered me completely in the wrong direction. Things like this are just not necessary and just serve to make the game less accessible. On the controls side, it's a bit of a pain how even if you see an object that you KNOW you're supposed to use the grapple beam to activate...the game won't let you until you scan the object and let the game TELL you that you need to use the grapple beam. Kind of unnecessary. There's also the occasional puzzle that will test your patience for the wrong reasons. For example, at one point, there was a root that's supposedly explosive. I'm firing at it and nothing's happening, I scan it, it tells me a powerful blast will do it...I try my power shot, my missiles...nothing works. I try shooting all around it, etc. etc. etc. Nothing seems to happen. Eventually (by chance) I happen to scan aimlessly and my scanner picks up a TINY PLANT all the way across this big gap in the room....I shoot the plant, it starts a chain reaction, and blows up the plant that was in my view. Finally. Puzzles like that completely slow down the gameplay and just don't feel necessary. And while the game's VERY good about telling you where you need to go and what you should be doing, there are still a couple times where it's just not made very clear to you. Save points are also a little on the infrequent side, and it's often the case that you'll need to set aside from 60-90 minutes at a time to play this.
As for the bosses, it's a bit of a double-edged sword. They're not awful and they definitely can test your skill, but overall they aren't as big or epic as I think they could have been; at times they almost feel like just bigger enemies. They can last about 15 minutes, though, since there's often a lot of stuff you need to do to them before you can even cause any damage. Maybe I was just set up by a boss early in the game....one of the first bosses you fight is awesome, as you basically fight it...while FREE-FALLING down a frigging mine shaft....easily a highlight of the series. None of the bosses after that really live up to it, unfortunately. That said, there are still some good ones in there, especially when battling Dark Samus or other variations of her. So there are good bosses in there, they just don't feel very well-paced or as epic or imaginative as I think they could have been.
Early in the game Samus becomes "corrupted," and you can go into Hyper Mode, where Samus becomes very poweful...but it's using the corruptive power, so naturally, if you're not careful with this, it can also kill you. It's a very well-done gameplay mechanic and it works well as a main driving force behind the game's storyline.
Overall, there's still a bit too much scanning and backtracking, as well as a couple unnecessary fetch quests. But what we have here, thanks to vastly improved controls, a storyline, and imaginative and very cool environments, is a very fun game that's not only much more accessible to the average gamer but just more fun in general. At a glance it may not do much different from past Prime games but if you spend a lot of time with Metroid Prime 3 you begin to notice the huge improvements to the gameplay and pacing. No longer does the gameplay get in the way of the fantastic atmosphere and as a result, I can finally see what so many people seem to love about this franchise.
Sound: The music's very much in the style of previous games in the series, offering an eerie, otherworldly, yet very subtle mix of ambient noises and some very atmospheric music. Some repeating tracks bothered me a bit, but it's easily one of the best-sounding games Nintendo's ever released. The voice acting (with the exception of some poorly acted lines near the end) is very good, and it adds a lot to the atmosphere as well. For example, when on board a Federation ship, Samus was told to take the monorail to the Captain's Room. When I stepped into the monorail and began to move, the voice on the loud speaker echoes through the space station; "Samus Aran is approaching the Captain's Room." Little touches like that add so much to the game's atmosphere. NPC's from the Federation are always available to talk to and while they're of little significance (until an AWESOME team work mission near the end of the game,) it's still kind of interesting to hear what they have to say. Sound effects, like the hum of computers or the sound of Samus's gun, are as immersive as ever.
Storyline: Retro Studios needs to improve in several ways in this category, let's just get that out of the way. The cutscenes are often very nice-looking (they run on the game's engine) yet whenever there's any human interaction in them it feels very stiff and very primitive. The inclusion of voice acting meant that they were free to make these characters move and talk like real people. Instead, they simply stand there and speak directly at the camera with text under them.....lame. It's voice acted, which helps, but still, could have been better. Some action scenes at the end also feel way too short and unsatisfying. Still, though, the plot here is decent, it adds a lot to the game, Samus is as cool a character as ever, and I think if they were ever to make a Metroid Prime 4, they could really create a great story and have a true gem on their hands. As it is, though, the story gets the job done and despite a HOWLER of an ending, it leaves a pretty good impression overall. One thing that didn't work; the other 2 bounty hunters...they seem to serve no purpose, and the actions of one near the end of the game are entirely without explanation and left me completely confused. Other than that, though, the story really works well with this game.
Final Word: They've been calling this the "final entry in the Metroid Prime series," and due to that, I kind of expected some sort of epic conclusion...the ending didn't deliver that at all, and had they not said "this is the final MP game," I would have assumed that there was another one on the way. Despite the somewhat lacking ending (to, apparently, the series,) the game delivers on all counts at being a great experience that looks very nice graphically, features an amazingly well-realized atmosphere, and, most importantly, makes the Metroid Prime series finally FUN, with the plot finally providing an incentive to move forward through the game. Even people who hated the past installments of the series should really give Metroid Prime 3 a shot, because there's a good chance they'd end up liking it. It's still more "adventure" than "shooter," but this time it's much more of a balance and both elements are done so well that it's recommended to fans of both. As of right now, (early January, 2008) the game has not yet outsold Metroid Prime 2, but it looks to be on its way to doing that EVENTUALLY. It's a little unfortunate how this game didn't find a bigger audience because it's definitely one of the finest experiences on the Wii to date and gamers owe it to themselves to give it a shot.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/08/08
Game Release: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (US, 08/27/07)
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