Review by mattchan02
"A sub-par Metroid game"
The name Metroid has become quite a powerful title in the gaming industry. The first game to bear this title, Metroid, was released on the NES. The game itself was lengthy, non-linear, and had a female protagonist. This broke many traditional standards used by many games, and was recognized and praised in doing so. Two sequels followed, Metroid II: Return of Samus and Super Metroid, both following similar formulas and amounting the same success as the original. No Metroid game was released for many years, disappointing many hardcore Metroid fans. However, with the release of the Nintendo Gamecube, came announcements from Nintendo for two new games... Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion. Looking specifically at Metroid Prime, it changed the the game from the 2d sidescroller to a first person adventure. Being viewed as an amazing game and transition from it's predecessors, many games were announced within the "Prime" title, one being this very game, Metroid Prime: Hunters. However, does this game live up to the title of "Prime"?
The game itself is consistent with other Metroid games in the way that the story itself is told. All Metroid game can be played without fleshing out the true story, but for die-hard fans of the game wishing to know more than the surface, it requires you to read behind the lines. This game has hidden figures dispersed throughout the many worlds, being visualized and read only through the scan visor, obviously telling the details of how and why the events of the current Metroid game are happening. A very neat concept, allowing players who do and do not enjoy storylines play this game.
However, the actual story itself is a whole new ballpark. Compared to others, the storyline is very weak when placed with the Metroid universe. Primarily, the game itself has absolutely no storyline references to the Metroid species at all. In two or three rooms in the game (I'm uncertain on the number), there appear metroid-like creatures, but that's it. It's disappointing to see how this specific storyline really has no relation to the species, where every other game is placed well due to the fact that the crisis within each game is directly involved with metroids.
Secondly, the story itself, regardless of it's connection to the Metroid universe, I found was weak also. Samus recieves a signal from the Alimbic Cluster, speaking about some sort of ultimate power. The Confederation hires her for this mission, and to claim the power before it can fall into the wrong hands. While on the planet, you encounter other bounty hunters looking for it also. Personally, I found this to be a weak storyline, sort of just finding an excuse to throw in random cool looking characters in there. The story doesn't really compel anyone, or have enough interest in anyone to keep themselves on the edge of their seats. It seems to be just be another bland or generic story, having very little interest or uniqueness to it.
The graphics for this game are pretty nice. Considering the technological feats the gamecube version had, the DS Metroid Prime game does justice. The large environments within the game feel nice from a distance and it utilizes the DS' technology very well. The camera angles are very well done when in small spaces while in the morphball state. The cutscenes are also done very nicely. However, the graphics are not deserving of a perfect score because I find that certain fine details are well done, and some are not well done. It's very inconsistent on this specific issue. As said earlier, I found small details while in the morphball state well done, but certain things like walls, bullets, and enemy bounty hunters are not very well detailed. I also found that the interface menus (the main menu, the ship, planet searching) were a bit clunky, and not smooth.
The gameplay of this game has quite a few unique features. It was marketed specifically in using the stylus to maneuver throughout the game, but they added the ability to play the game using the buttons only, which was a nice little touch that I appreciated (I dislike using the stylus constantly). However, both functions have their downsides. By playing in stylus mode, to jump you need to tap the screen twice very quickly. I found it very hard to jump and move the arm cannon at the same time, especially in boss fights where your arm cannon is temporarily stuck while tapping twice to jump. Also, by playing in the non-stylus mode, you still need to use the touch screen to access the scan visor, morphball mode, missiles and other beam options. As you can see, neither mode allows a technical configuration that can utilize all capabilities within the game efficiently.
Regardless of the technical aspect of the button/touch screen configuration, the responsiveness of the buttons are good, making you feel that every move you make in the game is being done with quick reflexes.
The monsters are very repetitive, having a very small selection throughout the entire game while at the same time having little to no skill in defeating them. Also, the boss fights themselves are very uninteresting as well. The first type of boss fights you encounter are the other hunters in the game, which are surprisingly simple to exterminate, due to poor AI. The second type of bosses are guardians of octoliths. Unfortunately, there are only two types of them, and each one is alternately re-used with slight variations in difficulty. Once again, this is a let-down within the metroid series, as most bosses usually have unique qualities to them, while the bosses in Metroid Prime: Hunters are rehashed and very bland after encountering them for the first time.
The music and sound effects in the game were very neutral in my opinion. I neither had a positive nor negative response to them. They were average, and semi-enjoyable. Nothing that will blow you away, pretty much just filler in the background.
The single player campaign leaves very little to do with after you're done it through one run, unless you're a hardcore speedrunner. Like previous Metroid Prime games, scanning every single object in the game allows for a better ending screenshot of Samus. As well, though the game does not live up to par to the speedrunning capabilities of Metroid Prime I or Super Metroid, the option is still there, though it has significantly less excitement and sequence breaking.
The replayability factor lies within it's multiplayer mode; another asset widely marketed. After encountering each hunter within the single player campaign, they are then unlocked to fight with in the multiplayer modes. This mode holds many cool aspects about it, with each fighter have unique abilities and the function to add friends and fight random people add new excitement never before seen in a Metroid game.
Ultimately, the game itself isn't bad per say, but doesn't live up to what previous Metroid games have accomplished. It tries new things, especially with the DS touch screen, but it just doesn't feel like a Metroid game that I'm playing. Ultimately, the question I posed before, whether this game lives up to the title of Prime, I must say... it unfortunately does not.
It's a game that's worth a rental, but if you're expecting it to be on the same calibur of all the other Metroid games, you'll quite likely find yourself disappointed.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 10/15/07
Game Release: Metroid Prime: Hunters (US, 03/20/06)
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