Review by ZaleIsBackAgain
"An adventure even Alexander the Great will grow jelous of."
Nothing beats a nice walk around the jungle. You have the beautiful rain that you appreciate for its glory as you watch it slowly drip down on your visor, the planet's various plants that look so welcoming, the peaceful creatures that are simply trying to make ends meet, but then suddenly the music shifts from relaxing tunes to upbeat music that the Space Pirates always play everytime they make their entrance. Ahh the same space pirates that feared Samus in their previous meeting on Zebes, where the Metroid population on the globe was dropped to zero thanks to Samus, but we should thank her because Metroids are the key to universal domination, and these are monsters that not even Anakin Skywalker can match. Well maybe he could, but that would just ruin George Lucas if we had let them live. Samus is more famous for her invincibility when she attempts solo missions relating to penetrating entire bases or planets. And now, she finds herself on the very tropical planet of Tallon IV, where the space pirates are up to no good once again.
Samus doesn't realize it, but the cause of the space pirates invasion on Tallon IV was because of her; debris that came from the pirate's headquarters back on Zebes that was self destructed found its way towards the planet that is inhabited by the knowledgeable bird like creatures the Chozo (the ones that always seem to sit down and hold items back in Super Metroid). The Chozo could have repelled against the attack, but the space pirates had fully controlled the chemical that was being produced within the meteor, phazon! And it's this one substance that made the Chozo extinct on their own planet because it was just too overwhelming and powerful to stop. Slowly, the Chozo could do nothing but die in battle as they watch their mines turn into Phazon extractors, their caves of Magmoor turn into armouries, the smooth snowy surfaces of Phendrana transformed into research facilities, and the planet's surface, where their source of water is poisoned.
However, the Chozo never gave up, and predicted that Samus would come and save them. The Chozo left in their trails upgrades and weapons that would benefit her in battle. These upgrades will give Samus access to platforms or areas that she couldn't reach before, and ultimately giving her access to kicking the space pirate's ass! These presents the Chozo left are incredibly varied and aren't only different in statistical numbers. Every item serves a unique purpose; the X-Ray visor can see through walls and exploit hostile Chozo ghosts; Thermal visor can detect heat signatures, ultimately revealing the positions of the not so slick invisible space pirates; scan visor can open up new doors and download data; spider ball can cling onto tracks; speed boost allows you to boost your speed in morph ball mode; the grappling beam allows itself to attach to grapple points, and you get the point. What's an adventure game without awesome equipment anyways?
Every Metroid game was enjoyable for the same reason; it was awesome for its backtracking and exploration factors. It's pretty wierd, but despite going back and forth constantly, you're having fun doing so! It's the equipment that the considerate Chozo lent Samus that make it so fun; before you've gained whatever item that made you stronger, it would have been rather difficult passing through certain areas. But it's rather rewarding sweeping through the entire field without any trouble thanks to the mighty grappling hook or prowess plasma beat. You can't help but underachieve and slash through it again! You won't have this urge all the time, but once in a while depending on how difficult the area was to pass through before.
That's not the only thing that makes this game so fun; it's how you get your equipment. They can be acquired through either defeating various bosses, or solving unique puzzles. Some of the boss fights here are really challenging and difficult to overcome thanks to the control scheme of the controller. Metroid Prime is in a first person perspective, but there's no second analog to look freely around; instead, a lock on system was implemented. So often times during battles, you'll loose track of where you're standing, and while you may feel discouraged at first, you'll quickly adapt to the unique scheme. None of the bosses flirt with impossibility, but they won't be so easy to defeat. The puzzles are also pretty unique and fun to solve. It requires the combination of the previous equipment Samus gained from before, such as using the boost ball and spider ball together to explore new areas. There's even one where a large pillar stands within the middle of the room, and placing it in the correct order is just a matter of straight thinking. The puzzles are at first intimidating, but you'll eventually feel comfortable with them.
Adding to the excitement of exploring and backtracking are the most astonishing graphics your eyes will ever lay on this generation of gaming. It's not so much how sharp it looks or how much polygons it can push, even though those factors are impressive enough, but it's how interactive your surroundings are. Like said before, various chemicals will get in the way of your visor, such as dripping rain, orange smoke, or even lava. You can't help but squirm and scream out "This game is just too awesome!!!" in a girly way everytime those effects take place. But what's even more impressive than dripping liquids on your visor is Samus's trusty morph ball. It's just so amazing watching this little ball roll around madly with the trailing light following it. In fact, you'll never see anything else that runs as smooth as Samus's morph ball. The environments and models for each creature inhabiting the planet are also very impressive. Metroid Prime proves that Nintendo wasn't wrong in resorting to the storage systems it currently uses over the ones its main competitors use, because anything can look good in any storage device as long as the effort is there.
What separates Metroid Prime from previous installments within the series is how it emphasizes the concept of being alone within an isolated planet. While previous Metroid games do this well, none of them are no where near the level of Metroid Prime's. There are rarely any signs of friendly encounters, adding to that lonely feeling. But the factor accentuating to that feeling the most is its first person perspective. In other games within the first perspective, you're usually travelling around within a facility, either having allies by your side, or carrying a device to keep in contact with headquarters. The only presence of any sort of speech is Samus's grunts everytime she is attacked. Though it's not like Resident Evil where you'll have to watch every single step.
The whole being on an isolated planet with no absolute contact with anyone is such an awesome feeling, but what's even more extraordinary is how it's able to maintain a decent story without any sort of communication. The scan visor is able to download data and translate it into English to make it readable. You'll encounter many computers containing daily space pirate logs or reports, which gives you a great idea of the story depending on the amount of computers you've scanned. The Chozo also have logs of their own, journalling the progression of the space pirates and how deep they've penetrated their lands. It's a nice change over the storytelling of other games, where a narrator usually explains the plot along the way, or you notice just by watching the scenes. The best part of all of this is reading the logs are completely optional, so those who enjoy speed runs don't have to experience the story another time.
There are little flaws to Metroid Prime, but if anything it simply lacks in its weaker points. Though its weaker points could be most games stronger ones. It's pretty short, and shouldn't take someone more than at least 10 to 15 hours to beat on their first play through. That number should decrease greatly after every play through; in fact, there are people who have beat this game in an hour! Metroid games weren't really meant to be epic adventures that consumes months of playing, but it could have been a little bit longer. Also, even though the music is relaxing, the battle themes that play during encounters with space pirates or chozo ghosts get awfully repetitive, even though they serve only for the purpose of making you aware there are some of them within the radius. There's also a nice treasure hunting game near the end, but they're really not that enjoyable to locate.
Other than those traits that are merely short of excellent, Samus's experience within Metroid Prime will definitely be one of her more memorable moments within her rather burdened life. I mean, who would ever want to pass up walking through a marvelous and gorgeous planet, while being massaged with relaxing melodies, while kicking some ass with equipment given to you by birds? Sure there are those who'd rather use that plasma beam to point it at their head rather than at Ridley's mouth, but think of it as an achievement that matches Alexander the Great's journey in quality. Because gems like these are one in a million, but in this case, it's two in a million since the adventures of Alexander and Samus are equal, at least I think so (judging by the rather exhausting history lesson they call a movie, and a couple books).
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 08/22/05
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