Review by myles1890

"Primed and Ready for Takeoff"

Nintendo's done just about everything; successful platform games such as the Mario series, great adventure and RPG games like The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy (the good ones!). But never have they made an honest attempt at a first person game, and actually nailed it. Here's my review of Metroid Prime for the Nitnendo Gamecube.

1. Storyline
2. Gameplay/Interactivity
3. Graphics/Sound
4. Difficulty/Etc.

We all know what happens in a Metroid game - Samus gets a distress call and/or mission order, goes down to said planet in the briefing, explores a bit, and loses her stuff, right? Well, nothing new here, folks - she's done it again. Gotta learn to leave the good stuff back at home, I say.

Anyway, Metroid Prime starts out by Samus infiltrating a Space Pirate base in the outer reaches of Tallon IV, which has been overrun by mysterious beasts, and few Pirates remain as a result from the beasts' attacks. Samus soon learns that, not too long before she arrived, the Space Pirates were experimenting with a dangerous substance called Phazon, a toxic blue material that was dangerous to all living beings, excluding Metroids.

And so, Samus goes to investigate further, and then you run into a boss that's been mutated by the Phazon, etc., etc., and then you lose your stuff after the fight, and then you return to your ship, and then you spot Ridley and follow him down onto the surface of Tallon IV. Almost classic, eh?

The stage is set for a perfect Metroid game already. The story is superbly written for a Metroid game compared to the standards that Nintendo stands by. It's very easy to follow, but offers some depth as plotholes abound attempt to throw you off course throughout the game. There are some moments where you'll be a little lost on what you're fighting for, but about 90% of the game gives you a reason to do what a bounty hunter does best.

Story - 9/10

A lot of honest Metroid fans were astounded (and some angry) that you were now actually in Samus' shoes, rather than viewing here from a sidescrolling angle. Many embraced it, but others were disgusted, and some Halo fans shivered, but it was a great improvement that was much needed for Nintendo.

And it worked like a charm - you used the R button to free aim, and the L button was used to lock on to targets in front of you. During combat, and even adventuring, these controls worked smoothly without any flaws that many wouldn't notice until later stages of the game. The A button was used to fire your beam - hold it down for a few seconds to charge the beam, and let go of the same button to let forth a powerful ball of energy.

And then came the Morph Ball, that which makes Samus different from any bounty hunter. This time around it's available from the get-go, but you do lose it eventually, and are forced to get it back. And, though most thought this mechanic would be a wasted effort, it wasn't - your view switched to a third person perspective on Samus as she rolled herself up, giving you full 360 degrees view and movement. Tapping the A button would let loose a bomb, and holding the B button down for a short time would charge your Boost Ball (this was acquired later along with many other powerups). However, the game's environs are more than accustomed to transporting little metal spheres around - puzzles and little tunnels are everywhere in Prime, and you won't be disappointed when you discover one.

Combat was a little tricky at first because Nintendo ditched the dual analog setup that many FPS fans had come to adore, and set Metroid down a different, brighter path. And it worked well. Combat, once you had gotten used to it (the learning curve was slim), you'd be taking Space Pirates out here and there, and moving with ease, avoiding gunfire. Strafing was available after you locked on to a target, and it worked perfectly if you wanted to utilize it.

You would acquire missiles as well, and these worked even better - lock on to a target, fire away, and watch as your missile homed in on the unlucky sucker, and there were missile upgrades to be found, as well as energy tank upgrades. There were various upgrades to your weapons as well, such as beam upgrades, new visors, etc., and they never ceased to be useful. Each beam had a unique door they opened, and they also had their uses around the environ - for example, the Ice Beam was useful in Magmoor Caverns as a means to eliminate that area's beasts with ease - also the Wave Beam was used to activate downed power generators and was useful underwater against fish and other swimming monsters.

The visors Samus possessed also had uses, such as the Heat Visor, which would scan the area for different temperatures and display them on your HUD. There was also the X-Ray Visor which was used to see through walls and solve certain puzzles.

You also had a map which could be accessed at any time by pressing Z. This recorded each room you've been to, which save points were available, and transports to other areas. The game also offered what Metroid Fusion did - objectives that were shown on your map. Press it after gaining an objective through your HUD, and the map would automatically center on where you needed to go.

This game was loading with cool stuff to mess around with - and you would instantly miss using them once you powered off your little gaming cube.

Gameplay/Interactivity - 10

Okay, let's face it - the Gamecube's nowhere near capable of producing something like Doom 3 or Fable, but it's done its best job with Metroid Prime. Everything looks as real as it gets, with few aliasing issues as a first for Nintendo. Environments looked stunningly surreal, the creatures were well thought out, and the means of which they attacked were all unique, and there were few moments where you'd be all alone.

The HUD also became a part of the environ, too - after Samus would walk beneath a waterfall, water would splatter on the face of the helmet with little, shiny droplets of H2O. Or, when underwater, everything would grey out a bit, and Samus' viewing distance would shorten. And there's the infamous "mirror image" you get when you receive a bright enough flash of light - if it was close enough to Samus' HUD, you'd see a mirrored image of the beautiful hunter's face.

There were some particle issues with explosions, but that's nothing to be ashamed of - Samus doesn't blow things up THAT often. But shots placed on walls by the Power Beam would heat up a bit, then disappear - and often times, if you fired your weapon in a very rapid succession for a few seconds and stopped, the beam's exit point would steam with exhaustion. Even the animation for each bullet released was different.

The Morph Ball looks like it should - a girl rolled up in an armored ball. The animation for rolling is smooth and steady, and the trail of light that gets left behind when you roll around is just plain cool. The Morph Ball Bombs look a little outdated, but that's a minor complaint over their uses and what little you actually see of them.

And the soundtrack completely compliments the Metroid universe. I dare you to start the game up and just sit there while the title screen appears. Put down your controller and listen to the theme song. It literally sets a deep mood of aloneness and determination; Nintendo's always one to outdo themselves with their soundtrack.

Graphics/Sound - 8.5/10

It's really hard to place Metroid Prime on any difficulty setting and not enjoy it, but the difficulty settings were there. Normal was, well, normal, and hard was...hard. No questions asked; the difficulty settings were acutely tested, and rarely would I complain (or any of my friends) as we played through it for the third time on any setting.

Nintendo was smart to place unlockables on the game. If you completed it with a certain amount of items possessed, or scanned all items in game to your logbook, you'd get the classic Metroid sendoff - Samus without her armor on. There was also a way to play the original Metroid via connecting your Gameboy Advance with the link cable. And there was concept art from the game's artist's and producers.

Difficulty/Etc. - 7/10

Overall, I highly recommend this game to hardcore gamers and leisure gamers alike. It's fun, addictive, and will leave you begging for more.

OVERALL RATING: 8 out of 10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 08/22/08

Game Release: Metroid Prime (US, 11/17/02)

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