Review by bloodwulfe

"Nintendo is still kicking, and Metroid Prime proves it"

Metroid games has always been, and always thought to be, a third person action adventure game. You take on the roll of Samus Aran, bounty hunter extraordinaire, off to save the galaxy from God knows what. However, with the announcement and release of Metroid Prime fans were shocked to hear the series take a leap in the first-person direction. While most hardcore fans of the series might feel this betrays the name ‘Metroid’, you would be shocked to find out how wrong you are.

On the outside, Metroid Prime is a flashy first-person shooter with beam weapons and power armor instead of your MP5’s and M4A1’s. On the inside, it’s a very well-developed and deep game worthy of not only GameCube fans but those of the first-person genre in general. Sadly, Nintendo will most likely not port it to other systems, which means all the more money for them. The sheer beauty of this game is cause to go out and slap down a hundred bucks for a GameCube today.

Samus Aran is equipped with a power suit of Chozo design - an ancient technologically advanced race. Her arsenal includes powerful beam weapons, energy grappling hooks, and a wide variety of attachments and upgrades. Not only does this offer a refreshing change from your ‘drop weapon, pick up different weapon’, but it also makes for some amazing gameplay. The storyline is surprisingly deep also. It isn’t you run and gun brainless shooter, but your more standard save the world one. Flashy graphics and an amazing soundtrack appear to be thrown in as an afterthought, as the gameplay would more then make up for lesser graphics.

Speaking of the graphics, have I mentioned they are amazing? The general detail of all the textures is just superb. It really sets the ambience, even to just notice a few burn marks along a plasma conduit or the floating debris in a depressurized airlock. The light reflects wonderfully off Samus’ power suit. We’re talking jaw dropping beautiful here. While the game is in the first person, it switches to a third person when you save or are riding up / down an elevator. You cannot move in this perspective, but it does give you an idea of what you are wearing. There are multiple upgrades that can effect the suit’s appearance, and it just warms your heart to see the developers not slack on the suit design. If anything, it becomes more of a piece of art later in the game as it becomes so beautiful.

The soundtrack is excellent as well. There is a wide variety of tracks, from your creepy background music, to your spooky boss battles, and even wonderful ambient sounds. A lot of the music really sets the mood. If you’re in a tight situation against insurmountable odds, the music will follow in tune. If you’re slinking around, searching for your prey like the hunter Samus is, the music will reflect this perfectly.

The control scheme could not have been any better. It is perfect in every regard. The left thumb stick moves Samus around, and if you press and hold the right back button you will go into a free look mode. Samus will grip her beam cannon and search high and low. It’s the little details like that that really make Metroid Prime such a superb game. When a large flash occurs, for example, you can catch a glimpse of Samus’ eyes as they reflect off the suit’s interior.

You can also pick up various ‘visor’ upgrades, which can be switched with the d-pad. Your default visor displays your HUD and targeting reticule, but you also start with a scanning visor. This visor allows you to lock on to various control instruments or enemies and scan them. The latter will produce information about the creature and possible weak points. All of the relevant information downloaded will be saved, and you can review it at any time by pressing start. A large portion of the scan able objects have no serious point, but they help develop the plot and give a background to the situation. You will be able to acquire a few other visors, one of which is a thermal imaging visor. You can use this to light up dark rooms or pick out heat signatures.

All in all, Metroid Prime is an excellent game in every regard. The gameplay is solid, the graphics are well above the GameCube standard, and even the soundtrack leaves you itching to order one for yourself. If you own a GameCube, you owe it to yourself to rush out and purchase this game. If you do not, consider buying one just for this game. It’s that good.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/05/02, Updated 12/05/02

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