Review by Un0rthodox

"A long hoped-for game arrives"

Metroid Prime - Nintendo, Retro Studios

I became quite familiar with the Metroid storyline after some time playing the games (then going back and replaying some of them). After going through the classic NES and Gameboy versions, I started wondering whether or not there will ever be a 3D version of Metroid… I mean, the Super Mario series and The Legend of Zelda series all converted to 3D at some point, but not for the Metroid series. I waited and waited, and one day…

GameCube. I got it, and I waited for a possible new Metroid game. Once I heard/seen an announcement that a new Metroid game is underway for the GameCube, I was anxious beyond belief.

I guess a few years passed when I opened up a copy of Metroid Prime a couple of days after its release. Not a lot of people have completed, let alone played, the game yet, so I was eager to get started and test it out. Mind you, I did not check for “news” or “articles” regarding the game prior to its release, the most exploration I've done was checking up its release date. I began the game with my mind cleared, and from scratch.

To start off:

Graphics – Top-notch. I never expected the Metroid series to take on a first-person shooter style, but it worked. Samus Aran combined with Prime's first-person shooting definitely intrigued me and impressed me. While playing, I primarily focused on blasting the Space Pirates to death, but I did manage to take a moment to examine my surroundings while walking and exploring in the first half-hour of the game. Walking and exploring, by the way, plays a huge role in Prime. It's kind of like Zelda with rockets, ships, and lasers. I'll talk more about the game as a whole later.

Bright visuals are a plus in this game. For every Power Beam shot fired, the art portion of the graphics is pretty much as accurate as it should be. Even when a fully charged Power Beam is fired, you can see Samus' reflection on the visor. I didn't expect that, and the inclusion and creativity on that part made me feel content.

Something that is also creative, and quite impressive, is water effect. Water that slide off of Samus' visor after leaving the water is simply innovative. While playing, you may notice many other tiny, details that you can't believe Retro Studios actually took the time to include.

Designs, especially on the environment, characters, and technological gizmos are also on the high end of the 1 – 10 scale. After using the scanner (a new function of the Power Suit), enemy creatures I meet up with are recorded, which then I go back to in the database to examine. The creatures, honestly, are very well designed. After some time playing, an artwork bonus can be unlocked, where you can take all the time you want gazing at the concept art and graphical figures of Samus, the creatures, and other subjects of the game.

Sound – Breath-taking. The music (especially Magmoor Caverns') and sounds are occasionally derived from the previous Metroid games, which is good. An impressive aspect is that most of the music became orchestrated instead of relying on MIDI versions. Take the intro-menu screen right in the beginning for example. Not only is it original, but also good. Good, as in, great… as in, as good as game music can get. Maybe it's just my ear-brain connectivity or something, but when I waited for a few seconds for the music on the intro screen to play, I was taken aback. I'm pretty sure many people would find the music pleasing.

Sound is quite a job well done, too. Ranging from laser and missile shots, to doors opening, to creatures dying and exploding, to general explosions, I would say the sound is nothing out of the ordinary compared to any typical game dealing with explosives and futuristic guns. Aside from sounds that cannot be improved upon, less obvious sounds such as footsteps are included and are nearly perfect (due to some occasions that different terrains still register the same clank-clank metal footsteps).

Controls – There's nothing too hard about Prime's controls. All you need to know is how to aim, shoot, jump, and maneuver around. By knowing those few controls, you will not be frozen in one location for too long (unless you're missing certain necessary power-ups, then I can't help you there). The A button is to shoot while the B button is to jump. The main control stick allows you to move, and the L-button locks on to enemies. The rotational C-stick allows Samus to switch beam weapons and the X and Y buttons correspond to morphing into a Morph Ball (all you Metroid fans should be familiar with this function) and firing missiles. All in all, simple and balanced.

A note about the Morph Ball function. The Morph Ball is so well designed that if you roll on even a slightly rugged corner of the dirt floor, you will see physics take action and the Morph Ball will tilt and slide, or get held back by friction, etc. The design team for this game really considered pretty much all the factors for making the game as realistic as possible.

Story – Samus Aran is back, following the trail of the notorious Space Pirates, this time to the planet of Tallon IV. Throughout the game, you encounter new and returning enemy creatures (i.e. the Metroids, of course), fantastic bosses, creative puzzles, and a new portion in the Metroid timeline. You will also investigate the mystery of Phazon, a hazardous material...

Now the Metroid series are fairly straightforward in plot. In Prime, however, the story goes far deeper and more detailed than any Metroid game prior to this one. I won't go too far as in giving away spoilers, but I will say that, for the most part, constantly exploring and trying to figure out what happens next will not put you to sleep. So just keep playing and enjoy the view. And I seriously recommend enjoying the view once in a while.

I beat the game after 30 hours of gameplay, which is indeed sufficient for any action-adventure game. I expected no less than 20 hours, and I got 30 (maybe because I took extra time to explore instead of rushing from one boss or area to another). Hardcore gamers may spend close to 40 or 50 hours if they wish to complete the game at 100% (without using GameFAQs or strategy guides). It has some parts where puzzles you might expect from a Zelda game are, well… puzzling and some parts where puzzles will force you to take an hour or two pacing back and forth thinking of solutions. And once you do figure something out, the rewards are fulfilling, game-wise and for yourself, too.

I admit, the game is challenging. Learning to play the game is not hard, but actually beating the game is. I recall staring at my given map, knowing where I have to go next, but not knowing how. I might scratch my head and simply leave my controller sitting on the table or couch while I stare at my TV screen, dumbfounded. There are many moments when I would sigh in relief after completing one area of the game. But... yes! I move on to the next part and realize I have to make a return trip because... well, spoilers spewing out, so I'm not saying anything else.

If you're looking for a good action-adventure game, check out Metroid Prime. You will be entertained by, at times, difficult and threatening bosses or even common enemies. Puzzles and mazes can drive you nuts, but are creative from the standpoint of Retro Studios (if you're a fan of puzzles, hey, it's another plus for you). If you're looking for a first-person shooter game, it's still worth it to give Prime a shot. The whole game takes place in first-person, aside from a few spots where Morph Ball action take place.

And finally, if you are a Metroid fan, don't wait, run, or order the game online. Take a rocket to a game store ASAP and buy the game. It's a neat game to add to any collection and a great addition to the Metroid series. Samus is back, as the same intergalactic bounty hunter extraordinaire we've all grown close to, to hunt down some Space Pirates and blow up some Metroids.

Give this game a shot. It deserves acclaim. The graphics itself is a splendor, but the inclusion of great music and sound effects, original story and innovation, and a balanced battle/control system combine for a successful game.

Graphics: 10.0
Sound: 9.7
Control: 9.1
Story: 9.5
Creativity: 9.6


Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 03/01/07

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