Review by Random-J

Reviewed: 04/25/03 | Updated: 04/25/03

Master Chief ain't got NUTHIN on this girl!

“Metroid in 3D with a first person perspective surely can’t work…can it? NAH. It can’t work at all. How will Samus use her morph ball ability? How will she fight bosses? It will be crap cos it ain’t in 2D like the rest of ‘em.”

You are one of many who fell into conversations and debates like the ones above if you consider yourself to be a Metroid fan. Many objected to the idea of Metroid being in 3D with a first person perspective. Many said “It wouldn’t work” yet it just so happens that Metroid Prime has slapped you lot in face and proved you wrong and has gone on to sell by the truck loads and be voted the ‘game of the year’ in the process. So…it can’t be all bad can it now…..

Breakdown ///
Samus Aran. Female Bounty hunter. The galaxies knight in shining-yellow Armour who always happens to save the day and give those space pirates a hard time. A meteorite hit the plant Tallon VI sometime ago and released a toxic, radioactive substance known as ‘Phazon.’ This destroyed a lot of the life on Tallon VI and caused nasty mutations in others. Overtime all, life on Tallon VI ceased, including the inhabitants of the planet, known as the Chozo. The Chozo were a peaceful race who yearned for nothing but peace and co-existence, yet where there are those who long for peace, there are also those who long for power and destruction and such beings dwell within the universe and are known as ‘Space pirates.’ The space pirates landed on Tallon and studied the substance known as ‘Phazon’ and experimented with it by exposing it to Metroid Larvae and other living organisms, in hope to build a super army which would help them gain dominance and reign supreme in the galaxy. But as the Chozo saw the end of their race and the pirate’s greed for power and destruction, they also saw their savior…a warrior donned in an Armour of yellow, who would release the planet Tallon from the pirates evil clutches and destroy the source of the Phazon that is destroying the life on Tallon VI…

Quite a story huh? Metroid Prime is a game which doesn’t rely heavily on plot lines, but has a decent one none the less. Obtaining files within the game and reading up on storylines of past Metroid titles will fill in any gaps and answer any questions or queries. So now the story has been established, lets get down to the nitty-gritty of “How the game fares” and let me just inform you of why you should part with your money and buy this here ‘wonderful’ game. So…you ready then?

How it plays ///
Metroid Prime is a first person shooter. For those of you who do not know what this is- it’s one of those games where you see the gun in the bottom right corner of the screen and play the game as though you are looking through the characters eyes. Examples of such games are Halo, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark and Timesplitters. The only thing Metroid Prime has in common with the afore-mentioned titles is the camera angle. Everything else is pretty much on Metroid Prime’s terms. Sod the missions and stages, Metroid Prime plays like an adventure game through and through. Think Zelda, where you are on a huge overworld and have to travel from area to area finding items to help you advance through the game and defeat enemies. It shouldn’t work so darn well, but it does. Anyone who’s played previous Metroid titles will know the drill. Start with jack sh*t and then reach a point where you can’t advance without the aid of a power up or ability. So off you go to acquire that ability to help you advance and then do the same thing over and over until you complete the game. Doesn’t sound like fun, but trust me; it’s a whole lot of!

Metroid Prime forces you to be aware of your surroundings and nothing is what it seems and what you need may be out of reach or cannot be sorted with a gun shot, so this is where ‘scanning’ comes in. Samus has the ability to scan objects with the aid of her scan visor (one of 4 which you can acquire). By using this visor, she can enter scan mode where she can look around and anything which can be scanned is represented by an icon. **The colour of the icon corresponds to its importance. (Orange symbols are usually signs and enemies; where as red icons are important files, switches and items.)** This is something you will have to do a lot of if you want to succeed in the game and once again its one of those aspects of the game which wouldn’t necessarily work well in other titles, but somehow works here in a fashion that’s enjoyable and fun. Scanning is easy to do and in no time you will become a scan king. The one nag however is that you have to be within a certain distance of your target before you can scan it and scanning doesn’t happen instantly, so if you are scanning an enemy, you will need to avoid its attacks, yet stay close enough to it until the scan is complete. Also, you cannot shoot whilst in Scan mode, doing so will automatically switch back to the default ‘combat visor.’ This is just one of the small things that make this game special and it keeps you on your toes. So mindlessly sailing through this game will not get you far and will cause you to hit constant dead ends.

Graphics ///
No first person shoot ‘em up comes CLOSE to this game. The graphics are second to none and from the moment you boot this game up and see the title screen, you know you are in for a treat. Everything is so well rendered and there isn’t a jagged edge in sight. The explosions, gun / particle effects are vibrant and well done and really do give the game a unique feel. No other game out there looks like this and it’s unlikely any other game will, unless Nintendo / Retro studios are the team behind it

The lighting effects are also amazing and really do show off the Gamecube’s hardware. Shooting off your gun will emanate a light source around the room and this looks amazing. Also, it’s useful in situations where there may not be much light and shooting your gun is the only way for you to see things around you.

The frame rate does drop at times, but this is minor and also rare and doesn’t detract from the fact that this game looks and runs like a dream. Also, the slow down isn’t as bad as say ‘Perfect Dark’ and its something which a lot of First person shooters are plagued by at times, so it can waver.

Sound ///
What would a Metroid game be without top notch sound huh? Metroid Prime has the funkiest and best soundtrack out of all the Metroid titles. The music is a mad mix of orchestrated ensembles and funked out electro-pop. The diverse mix of music is unusual for a Metroid title, yet it works somehow and is very cohesive. Each section and location within the game has its own little jingle and as you move between areas, the music changes. This is done in such a way that it’s hardly noticeable and really is a testament to solid programming on the sound teams’ behalf.

The sound effects are also brilliant and the game makes good use of Dolby Pro logic II, so for those who have Dolby surround, EXPLOIT THIS as it makes the game an even more enjoyable feat to behold.

Controls ///
Now I will not lie to ya’ll…the controls will seem crappy at first and will take a while to get used to, but once you do, they feel like second nature. Metroid Prime’s controls are not like most run of-the-mill first person shoot ‘em ups where an R-button (or R-trigger) is used to fire and one button is used to select your weapon whilst another is used to reload. The R-button in Metroid’s case brings up a target and locks Samus in place so that you can move the target on screen without moving her – this enables you to look all around at your surroundings. The L-Button locks on the enemies and the A button is used to shoot. The D-pad selects your visor (Combat, Scan. Thermal or X-ray) and the C-stick selects your weapon (Power beam, Wave beam, Ice beam and Plasma beam).

Metroid Prime’s controls are completely different to anything you’ve played before and even though they may seem a bit ‘off’ and throw you at first, the controls soon make sense and you begin to release that the game could not play any other way. Plus, if you don’t like the controls, certain buttons can be configured to suit you. However, I’d advise you to stick with the default settings as they correspond well with what’s on screen. (This will make total sense when you play the game).

Lastability ///
Metroid Prime is a game that will last you ages. However, completing it will NOT take that long, though the completion time will depend on your skills and how you play the game. If you’ve played a Metroid game before, then chances are you will know all the little tricks that the game will try to pull on you, such as ‘the deviously hidden fake walls’ and ‘cleverly placed confined spaces that can be rolled through in morph ball mode.’ A lot of these things will be over looked by someone who has not played a Metroid title before and therefore lengthen the total play time.

Even though the game isn’t ludicrously difficult to complete, getting 100% will prove to be a major challenge that few will accomplish. Getting a full percentage in this game means finding ALL the power ups and weapons, all the energy tanks, missile stocks and more gruelingly…scanning for every enemy and for every file in the game. This is not easy and will be a test to those who can really endure the world of Metroid Prime. The percentage that you finish the game on also determines which ending you are treated to. So the lower percentages will gain you a crappy ending, where as getting the full 100% will treat you to a much better and more conclusive ending and chuck in a few galleries of artwork containing pictures of Samus without her Armour and Varia suit. Completion of the game will also unlock “Hard mode” which says exactly what it offers…”a more difficult game” and within the first few moments of playing hard mode, you will instantly notice the steepness in the difficulty of the game, notably that enemies take twice as many shots as they did before.

All in all, the lastabilty of the game is lengthy and worthwhile and whilst the game is short in comparison to the likes of Super Metroid, it is fun all the way and worth playing through again.

Bonuses ///
Metroid Prime makes full use of the Gamecube > Gameboy Advance connectivity that games are slowly, but surely beginning to exploit. Linking your Gamecube to your Gameboy Advance with a copy of Metroid Fusion intact unlocks 2 things. First off - is the ability to play through Metroid Prime donning Samus’ Fusion suit from Metroid Fusion, providing that the game cart contains a saved / completed Metroid Fusion file. Second of all is the chance to play Metroid…YES, the VERY first Metroid game which debuted on the NES over a decade ago and this is easily the better of the 2 bonuses. Metroid Prime loves dishing rewards and this is one of the more redeeming. So if there was any reason to invest in a Gamecube / Advance link up cable…it’s NOW!!!

In nut-shell… ///
Retro studios have proved themselves a force to be reckoned with and despite many doubting their ability to recreate Metroid in 3D, they beat the odds and delivered a game better than anybody had hoped or even dreamed of! Prime is a quality title and easily ranks as one of the Gamecube’s best titles to date. However, as wonderful as Metroid Prime is, it is no Super Metroid. It’s hard to put your finger on what it is Super Metroid had that Prime doesn’t, but deep down when playing this game you can’t help but think “This ain’t as good as Super Metroid.” It’s hard to surpass a title which has been placed on a pedestal and received such critical acclaim, especially one which was released on a console that is deemed by many to be “the best console of all time” – The SNES. But if we were to sit and name drop the titles of game which did not exceed expectations met by its predecessor, we’d be naming almost every title which progressed into a series. Super Mario Sunshine was no Super Mario 64 – but was still a good game. Mario Kart 64 was no Super Mario Kart – but was still a classy title. Even Soul Calibur 2 in comparison to the Dreamcast’s Soul Calibur isn’t as groundbreaking as we initially thought! Prime could have been absolutely atrocious, but it just so happens its one of the best games around. What makes Metroid Prime so special it that it goes against almost ALL of the conventions of which you would expect to see in your average first person shoot ‘em up. You are not given missions. You can go anywhere you like as long as you have means of getting there. There are no stages. There are only 4 guns. Loads of bosses. No co-operative mode and no deathmatch. Yet, it wipes the floor with every other first person shooter out there. So...who needs Rare and their Perfect Dark, when we’ve got Retro Studios and Samus Aran on the case! A definitive title; If you own a Gamecube, you must own this game. Simple as.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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