Review by MZ
Reviewed: 07/31/03 | Updated: 07/31/03
An adventure you'll never forget.
Metroid Prime was one of those games I had little interest in the many months before it’s release. I would often here people talk about how great it was going to be and how everything about it looked perfect. People always mentioned how this was going to be the “Halo Killer!” even though Nintendo and Retro Studios themselves specified Metroid Prime was going to be a First Person Adventure (FPA) instead of the shoot anything that moves genre known as a First Person Shooter (FPS). In a word the months of hype brave Nintendo loyalists and classic Metroid nostalgic gamers set up for it left me feeling with a meh feeling. The day finally came when Metroid hit 3D games and almost every hardcore gamer was buzzing with excitement opening their copies and stuffing them into the little geometric shape that doubles as a quality gaming console. Almost instantly the hype produced by hardcore gamers had turned into pure delight in Samus Aran’s first 3D adventure games. Major gaming websites scored Metroid Prime extremely well sending it skyrocketing into the top ten on the gamerankings website. People were calling Metroid Prime the greatest 2D to 3D game franchise transition of all time.
It was at Futureshop that I decided to pick up Metroid Prime one day along with MechAssault and the Xbox Live Starter Kit. You could say that a bounty hunter and a futuristic robot joined forces to shoot a hole through my wallet that day. I wasn’t expecting much from Prime but I threw it into my GCN when I got home right away anyways. I played through the beginning part and felt nothing but boredom and annoyance for the fact of having to scan everything that moved, didn’t moved and didn’t even exist. Well, maybe not that last one. I reached the Tallon Overworld really soon considering the opening part is as easy as turning on your computer. The Tallon Overworld music gave me as small blast of Metroid nostalgia from the first Metroid on the NES I used to play when I was really young. Unfortunately the game never did really appeal to me after a couple of hours of play. I gave up on Metroid and went on to play MechAssault on Xbox Live, Mario Party with friends, the amazing Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis and numerous other titles over the next six months. I had given up on Metroid Prime but somehow Metroid Prime hadn’t given up on me.
Six months later and on a rainy day with nothing to do I found myself trying Metroid Prime again. As soon as I started however I had no idea of what to do since I was playing some part of a game I hadn’t played for many months. I restarted the game again and this time and played on through a good portion of it without ever getting bored. Why, was this? I could play this game for hours now when before a few minutes of it would bore me to a high extent. It then clicked inside my mind; the reason Metroid Prime was fun now. I felt like I was playing an adventure game and since I hadn’t played a FPS in months wasn’t expecting to run through dodging, ducking and shooting anything that moved like a postal worker on prozac. I knew almost nothing about Metroid Prime before it’s release other than the shouts of gamers claiming it’ll be great or arguing over if it’ll be a FPS or a FPS. Since I knew that it was set in a First Person Perspective I automatically assumed it would play like a FPS automatically. Also the fact that people said it was going to be a “Halo Killer!” when in fact it had absolutely nothing in common with Halo besides the perspective might have been a factor as well. Now though, I was enjoying a pure adventure game free of the sub-conscious bias I didn’t even clearly know I had before its release.
Metroid Prime essentially follows the classic Metroid formula except using the first person perspective. Bounty Hunter, Samus Aran tracks the space pirates to a frigate suspended in space by the planet Tallon IV. This is were your story begins although this first bit is just both a tutorial and a basis for the story. You lose all of your upgrades due to an accident on the frigate and then a ground-based recon is required to find them and others, not to mention put a stop to the space pirates’ activities on the planet. Almost the entire game then is set on reclaiming or acquiring parts to Samus’ armor which in turn help you access new areas to progress through the game. Metroid Prime gives off a very high sense of exploration although most places require a certain ability such as the morph ball to get into. After you get an upgrade you can get into another part of Tallon IV such as getting missiles will help you open that dredged door with a missile lock on it or the morph ball will get you through those small tunnels into a new area. You will also know where to go usually as after completing a certain task, Samus will get a incoming transmition warning of things like “increased predator activity” or “foreign technology”. It will then show you where these are on the map and chances are that’s where you should head next unless you’re getting some missile or energy tank expansions. The Tallon IV world is huge and will involve lots of backtracking to get to an area that you were in before but couldn’t use the spiderball track or see the invisible platforms. Luckily there are many ways to get back to those same places instead of just heading back. Lots of different transports to different parts of an area exist that you can take as a shortcut. Not only that but often times things like spiderball tracks or grappling points will help you get over certain areas faster than you could before. One problem though is that sometimes doors won’t open right away when you shoot them for some reason and this may pose a small delay when running from space pirates. Also as you progress through the game, the monsters in areas will become different or more plentiful to prevent the game from becoming too easy.
Metroid Prime essentially takes place in five different viewpoints; combat visor, scan visor, thermal visor, x-ray visor and morph ball mode. Morph ball mode is the only one of those, which is in a third person perspective instead of a first person perspective. However the latter two visors are not available from the start and must be collected later on to help you complete certain tasks such as see invisible platforms and track invisible enemies by sensing the heat they give off. The Metroid world is extremely detailed and the player can learn a lot about it and the story by scanning computer holograms, natural formations, enemies and other things. The detail is overwhelming and you will find yourself immersed in the beautiful world Retro Studios has created. The scanning may seem tedious at first but believe me; it completely immerses you into the world of Samus Aran. However on the other hand if you just want to rush through the game and forget about scanning anything then you can do that. Metroid Prime gives you the option of choosing to learn the whole story, bits of it or barely any of it. Metroid Prime also offers you a variety of innovative weapons for Samus to use and most of these don’t require ammo either. Don’t worry though, just because you don’t have an ammo limit for the four basic beams (unless you’re using the combos) doesn’t mean it’s easy. The AI in Metroid Prime is extremely good, while normal creatures such as Zoomers will go about their daily bidding in a natural habitat, the space pirates won’t. Fighting the space pirates gives the player a good sense of challenge as they will jump out in front of you, melee attack when at close range, dodge by jumping and rolling, firing spread fire to prevent you from dodging to effectively and even corner you against a wall. When cornered against a wall, a melee attack would be extremely effective. However the lack of such is one of Prime’s only falls.
Metroid Prime uses a percentage method to tell you how much of the game you’ve completed or actually how many upgrades you’ve collected. The main upgrades that need to be collected are included as are the numerous missile, energy tank and power bomb expansions. The various “mandatory” upgrades are not really hidden as much as they require certain tasks to complete which is essentially your main quest. The expansions however are often in rooms you have previously visited without certain upgrades needed to find the hidden expansions. Such as invisible platforms that may lead to an expansion, the first time you get to a room when you don’t have the x-ray visor yet. The expansions are sometimes out in the open but require some skill such as in morph ball courses and they are also sometimes hidden and require you to backtrack and figure out what you have to do. You don’t need these to progress however they are helpful in increasing your energy/missiles/power bombs and they are also quite fun to get and look for.
The world of Tallon IV is created to perfection and the game has so much detail such as detailed creature morphology and space pirate operations that it really is quite a treat to play through. Retro Studios have really polished the Metroid series and Metroid Prime follows suit on the previous Metroid games perfectly.
Gameplay Score: 9.7
In this department, Metroid Prime manages to excel incredibly showing off what the Nintendo Gamecube can really do. The huge Tallon IV landscape is dotted with detail everywhere from ferns growing by the waterside in the overworld to the majestic fall of snowflakes in the drifts. Nature is recreated to it’s fullest as creatures move around majestically and look beautifully. You’ll find yourself gazing at the reflections in the ice, the cracks in the rock and the vegetation that surrounds the world. The Chozo structures also show great details as pillars have faults and fractures and the blocks of material the walls are made off aren’t perfectly even and in place. All the creatures in Metroid Prime look as real as if they were standing beside you ready to stab you or blow your head off. Everything in the Metroid Prime world is beautiful and extremely well detailed.
The HUD also curves like a real visor as the panels and displays in the HUD such as visor selection and energy curve to both sides to make it seem as though your really looking through Samus’ visor. The effects on the HUD are also extremely realistic. When you jump out of the water, it’ll flow down your visor and when you go through steam or shoot a parasite from close range, steam, blood or some other substance will cloud your visor for a while. When you shoot the enemies, they will take damage by flashing red and then blow up in a small frenzy of blood and matter if you’ve shot them enough. Metroid Prime has really perfected what the Gamecube can do when it comes to graphics.
Graphics Score: 10
As soon as you start the game, you’ll probably notice the amazing music at the title screen. Most of the music in the game is extremely good and provides the player with an accurate feeling of the environment. Depending on which part of Tallon IV you’re in, there’s different music and it fits the area perfectly. The music can be heavenly at times or eerie at times depending on your situation. When you encounter space pirates, you get some really cool music during the fight, same thing for bosses. Some more songs would help but overall the music in Metroid Prime really entrances you into Samus’ world.
Everything you hear in Metroid Prime when it comes to sound effects is amazingly realistic. The clank of metal, the firing of weapons, the explosions and the various grunts and other sounds of Tallon IV’s wildlife are all prime examples. The sounds have been perfected amazingly as you can even hear the constant underwater sound you actually get when your underwater. The sound effects in Metroid Prime are just plain excellent.
Sound Score: 9.6
Metroid Prime uses the Gamecube controller to its absolute fullest allowing you to easily and effectively switch your visors and beams. The D-Pad controls the visors while the C stick controls the beams. Thus you can quickly switch beams or visors without having to cycle or pause the game. Positioning your two index fingers on the L and R buttons and your thumbs on the control stick and the main set of buttons you can easily use and function in Metroid Prime. Holding down the L button allows you to lock on to an enemy and then you can move around it and fire your weapon with A or a missile with Y. The X button allows you to switch between morph ball and normal modes while B allows you to jump or tapping B allows you to dash sideways quickly to avoid an enemy attack. The R button will allow you to aim your gun in order to lock on. If your worried about this effecting your ability to dodge enemy attacks, you shouldn’t be as you can usually lock on to something when you spot it and then dodge by jumping, moving side to side and back and forth while managing to fire your weapon at the enemy. As mentioned before, a quick thumb movement will allow you to switch visors and beams so you can get back to frying those pirates before they blast you. Oh and of course the Start button brings up the menu and the Z button allows you to see the map. Metroid Prime puts the Gamecube controller to use to the best of its ability.
Control Score: 10
Metroid Prime will take you approximately 15-20 hours the first time through but believe me you’ll want to play it again. Each time that you complete the game, it’ll tell you what percentage you got and fast you got through the game. You’ll want to get that 100% and try to complete it again even faster. Not to mention that there is a Hard Mode where the enemies have been given steroids and shown pictures of teletubbies. Since Metroid Prime isn’t too long, you’ll probably manage to make it through the game with 100% in less than 8 hours soon. There’s also other challenges people have made up such as going through getting as little upgrades as you can to step up the challenge when fighting pirates and bosses. You’ll play through Metroid Prime, quite a few times before you get bored of it.
Lasting Appeal Score: 9
Metroid Prime is one of the must get games for the Gamecube. Err, scratch that, Metroid Prime is one of the must games of all time! You’ll enjoy ever minute of it if you’re a Metroid fan or even if you aren’t you’ll truly appreciate the unique gaming experience it offers. It’s quite possibly one of if not the best 2D to 3D transition ever created. So, sit back, grab the controller and enjoy the beautiful world of Tallon IV. You won’t be disappointed as long as you give the game a fair chance.
Overall Score: 9.7
Lasting Appeal: 9
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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