Review by general531

Reviewed: 03/07/07

It is Prime time for Metroid

It has been eight long years since Samus appeared in an adventure. After a lengthy absence (except for Super Smash Bros. for the N64), Samus returns in her fist adventure on the GameCube. Metroid Prime is a game of many firsts for the Metroid Series. It is the first 3-D game for the series and it is the series' first FPS. Metroid Prime takes the series to a three dimensional realm. And just like what they did with Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, and Donkey Kong 64, Nintendo executed the transition perfectly. The controls are intuitive and innovative, The graphics keep in-tune with the tone of the game. The animation is even better than Halo. The story and gameplay are both very deep. Nintendo and Retro Studios not only pulled off a perfect transition of the Metroid series, but also innovated it. Metroid Prime is a great game for both Metroid fans and shooter fanatics.

The graphics in Prime are excessively beautiful and take full advantage of the GameCube. Samus' suit is texture-rich and polished. The scenery is drop-dead gorgeous. The lighting effects are realistic and make you feel like you are part of the action. The animation is smooth and lifelike. The effects are staggering and just awesome to look at.

The entire game is texture-rich. The ground, walls, lava, ice, and so many other surfaces are rigid and look so realistic. Each location puts an emphasis on its theme. Magmoor Caverns gives you a look and feel of what it's like to be in an underground lava mine. Phendrana Drifts gives you a feel of arctic air. Tallon Overworld puts an emphasis on a rain forest-like atmosphere.

Retro Studios did a hell of a job on the visuals of Metroid Prime. The put a lot of detail into the visuals, animation, and effects. You just have to play this game to get the full grasp of the graphics. Retro should be praised for their graphical work.

The controls are ideal for Metroid Prime. It might be awkward for those of you who played Halo with its dual-stick set-up, but you will get used to it in no time, especially if you played an FPS on the N64, such as Goldeneye 007.
The single stick moves and rotates Samus around. You can hold the R-button to aim your weapon. You use the L-Button to strafe (move side-to-side) and to lock-on to your targets, in which I find more helpful than using two analog sticks at times. The C-stick and D-pad easily switches between your weapons and visors respectively. The buttons are configured nicely for shooting, jumping, and morphing into the ball. The response is second -to-none and the feel is highly realistic courtesy of Prime's fluid animation.

Hardcore FPS fans might criticize Retro's decision to move Samus, but I thought it was the right choice. Using the L and R buttons to switch between weapons and visors would not as quick nor intuitive. The two sticks on the Cube controller are not evenly sized as well. Uneven sticks, as far as size is concerned, will make controlling Samus awkward. Retro made the correct choice.

Game Design:
Metroid Prime is...well...DEEP! The game is a long, long adventure filled with twists, turns, puzzles, and exploring. In fact, you might want to use a walkthrough for this game or you will either get lost or go into a boss fight severely under-equipped, making boss fights hard. Samus will acquire four weapons, four types of super-weapons, two types of bombs, four types of armor, and four types of visors. There are numerous missile expansions, power bomb expansions, and energy tanks.

Samus can use up to four types of weapons in this game. Samus, at first, uses a normal beam, but will find three more. The wave beam shoots three bolts per shot or a charged ball of electricity that short-circuits computerized drones. The ice-beam fires a shot of sub-zero ice that injures or freezes enemies. The plasma beam fires a shot of magma that incinerates enemies fond of arctic environments and badly hurts other enemies. All of Samus' basic weapons can be charged. The same goes for her missiles. Samus will find three types of super missiles. The regular Super Missile is mandated to find and use. The other three are not required, but are recommended and can do heavy, even fatal, damage. They are the Wavebuster, Ice Spreader, and the Flamethrower. Beware though, all three use a lot of missiles, especially the wave beam. Samus' ball form also has a powerful weapon: the Power Bomb. This weapon blows up walls and rubble that normal bombs can not. Samus has an extensive and useful inventory and all of it is easy to use.

Samus has four types of suits. Her normal suit does little to protect her from harm and is useless in extreme heat. Her Varia suit, which is actually what you start with until the end of the frigate level, protects her in boiling hot environments and doubles her protection from enemy attacks. The gravity suit grants her full movement in water. That means you can move just as fast in water as you can on land and gives you better sight underwater. The Phazon suit protects Samus from the radioactive phazon.

Samus uses a total of four visors in Prime, all of which are necessary. The combat visor and the scan visor are the two you start with. The combat visor is used for regular combat. The scan visor, which is a neat innovation, is used to scan to activate controls and to expose enemy weaknesses. Don't think of this as a gimmick. Scanning controls and switches are mandatory to get through this game. The thermal visor is meant for combat in the dark. It detects enemies by their body heat (just for fun, try using this in Magmoor Caverns). The X-ray visor detect hidden platforms, items hidden behind walls, and enemies that are invisible to the combat visor.

Samus' adventure starts on a frigate above Tallon 4, which is disguised as a tutorial. After beating the boss and escaping the ship, she goes to Tallon's overworld. She will travel into areas like the Chozo ruins, Magmoor Caverns, Phendrana Drifts, and the Phazon Mines. Tallon Overworld is like a rain forest. Magmoor Caverns is a cavern set deep underground full of liquid rock. Phendrana Drifts is a frozen wasteland with a Metroid research base. The Phazon Mines are an underground area full of harmful Phazon. Samus will infiltrate all of these areas in order to get through her task.

The AI in Prime is well executed. I thought at times the bad guys were actually smart instead of being programmed to be smart. The intelligence of the bosses is so good that if you mess up, you will be messed up. They are unforgiving and deal a massive amount of damage, but they do not cheat. In fact, if you know the enemies weakness and have all ammo and energy tanks up to that point, the bosses will be no problem, especially to a skilled player.

That is the essence of a walkthrough with a game like this. Metroid Prime features a lot of twists and forks-in-the-roads. Even if you know exactly where you need to go when you need to, you might miss a missile expansion or an energy tank which could be crucial later on. I understand that this is how the Metroid series works and I am not addressing this as a flaw, but without a walkthrough, you may take about a total of a hundred hours to complete the game or may never get through it. Metroid Prime is a long game. With a walkthrough, it took me eleven hours to get through it. In the end, Metroid Prime is an excellent game that fans will enjoy.

The audio is great. The effects are realistic and appropriate for the action. There is also a depth perception with the effects if you listen closely. The music is symphonic and at times you can hear the original Metroid theme. The music in each level is appropriate for its theme. You will also hear the item acquisition theme. What I thought was missing is the voicing. Where is it?

Metroid Prime takes place after the first Metroid on the NES. Samus Aran is sent to Tallon 4 to investigate a research facility. She finds out that the research is run by a mechanized version of Ridley. Samus will need to find out the reaserch facility and destroy it.

Metroid Prime is a great game. The graphics are extremely detailed. The animation is life-like and silky smooth. The control is ideal for a game like this. The design is excellent. The weapon types differ greatly, especially between the ice and plasma weapons. Samus has four visors that also differ greatly. The same goes for her suits. Metroid Prime is deep, challenging, and very fun. I highly recommend this game for Metroid fans or fans of First-Person Shooters. The only thing missing is a multiplayer mode.

Score: 10 out of 10 and a must own game

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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