Review by NarikirishiDS
"The most polished and well-made Prime to date, faltering only where it fails to capture the essence of the original"
After the Super Nintendo era, Samus Aran mysteriously went AWOL, skipping an entire generation of consoles, which, for one of Nintendo's key franchises, is very rare. This was not unheard of, of course; fans of the Fire Emblem and Mother series also failed to see a Nintendo 64 incarnation, but waited patiently for the return of their beloved heroes nonetheless. Near the time of the Gamecube launch, it was official. Samus was back. This news was to the dismay of many Nintendo fans, however; the 2D adventures of Samus Aran were to be converted into a 1st person 3D quest developed by then-unheard of Retro Studios. Nintendo faithful felt slighted by this ostensibly harrowing change, but their concerns were almost immediately assuaged when Metroid Prime released in 2002, becoming one of the most polished and satisfying experiences in gaming, period. Since the original entry in the Prime subseries, 2 more Prime games, Echoes and Hunters, were released, but neither seemed to garner the acclaim, nor have the impact, that the first title did. They were fantastic games, but Retro knew that they would have to go all-out to create a conclusion to the Prime series that was as memorable as its first game. Five years after the series' conception, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was released, and while the spirit of solitude that makes the original Metroid Prime one of my favorite games of all time is all but absent, Corruption is undeniably the best title to come out of Retro Studios so far.
The story in the Metroid Prime has never been enough to hold the series on its own, but I've always been fascinated by the yarns spun by the games nonetheless. Samus' galaxy is steeped in ancient lore, and the piecemeal manner at which events of the world's history is revealed has always been one of the more enthralling aspects of the series. Rather than talking to random people and the obligatory video game 'village elder' who is an expert in all things pertaining to the history of the universe, Samus learns everything she knows about the worlds she explores by scanning her environment. The story isn't terribly original, but the vehicle by which it is told makes it much greater than the sum of its parts. To sum the story up by saying that the Phazon from the first two games is now beginning to corrupt the entire galaxy at once is sufficient, but that simple delivery omits what is truly enjoyable about Corruption's tale, that being revelations of plot points. Chozo prophecies are etched in the walls, Space Pirate computer terminals can be accessed to receive bits of information about their ongoing experiments, and combat logs can be retrieved from fallen soldiers to help Samus familarize herself with these unknown worlds. The only flaw in the story's execution, however, is the inclusion of cutscenes in which Samus interacts with fellow members of the Galactic Federation. Samus' mystique is not diminished, as she still remains mute, but GF involvement in interplanetary affairs this go-around greatly reduces the feeling forlorn solitude that made the original Prime nearly perfect.
Graphics and Art: 10/10
An often used(but still very lame) joke is that the Wii is nothing but two Gamecubes taped together, used in regards to its seeming lack of graphical power. If this is indeed true, however, then both of these Gamecubes must be working overtime, as the worlds Samus explores, as well as the heroine's trademark suit itself, are absolutely gorgeous. The polygon count is still far from what can be seen on the average Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 title, but the amount fo detail that went into the worlds as compensation impresses me more than what I've seen in most any other game. Particle effects are brilliant, with falling snow and emissions of light beams from Samus' charging arm cannon looking as good as one would imagine they should be. The worlds feel alive, drawing upon classic Metroid style area designs to create thoroughly convincing jungles, lava caves and the best icy world in any game to date. Networks of pipes can be seen beneath floors, a soft blue glow emits from machinery and huge environments engulf Samus in ways no other Nintendo game has matched yet. A feast for the eyes, indeed
Sound and Music: 9/10
The soundtrack to Corruption definitely has a different feel to it than other Metroid Prime games have, with songs usually opting to have more of an epic sound than the looming, dark tones that accompanied exploration in previous titles. That style is definitely present, but the gloomy feel is diminished. If you liked the haunting solitude presented in the first game, then the lack of similar music might be another thorn in your side, though for the style of game the Corruption tries to be, the new musical direction is indeed more suitable. Metroid Prime 3 also marks Metroid's first real foray into the realm of voiced games. Ever since grey plastic Super Metroid cartridges uttered the phrase "The last Metroid is in captivity. The galaxy is at peace", many a fan has wondered what a fully voiced title in the series would be like. Voice snippets were used in Fusion(and if I remember correctly, Prime 1 and 2), but spoken dialogue is much more important here. For Retro's first attempt at voice acting, the effort is impressive; characters speak in convincing tones with a solid sense of diction, and not succumbing to the all-too-common pitfall of awkward phrasing and line delivery(and considering the last voiced game I completed was Disgaea 2 on the Playstation 2, this was quite the relief). The soundtrack is as memorable as it has ever been for the series, and is slmost sure to please.
When you point the Wii Remote at the screen and move it around while playing a first person game, one would expect the on-screen gun avatar to move in a responsive manner. This, however, has not been the case so far with other Wii titles. Fortunately, Corruption has the most responsive Wii controls to date, which is also good because when speaking of a Wii title, how the game controls is always an important issue to consider. Pointing with the remote moves Samus' cannon, A and B fire the gun and make Samus jump respectively, the nunchuck's analog stick moves Samus while a flick of the peripheral causes the grapple beam to lash out. Other staple controls for the series work as expected, with buttons mapped to lay bombs, fire missiles, morph into a ball, target an opponent, etc. Multiple sensitivities are tailored to different playstyles and can be changed at any time. Another brilliant inclusion was the Free Lock system, in which Samus' arm cannon can be pointed away from the enemy currently being targeted in order to hit a specific body part or kill off a pesky Space Pirate trying to interrupt your dual. Many contextual actions appear at certain points in the game, and while they don't add much to the experience, they function as they should every time and for some may give an increased sense of immersion.
For all of its aesthetic trappings it's easy to forget that Metroid Prime 3 happens to be an incredibly fun game to play. The gameplay in previous Prime titles has always been exceptional, with a solid mix of shooting, platforming and puzzle solving. Corruption takes all of these elements, and as many sequels strive to do, endeavors to make them bigger and better than any other Metroid to date. Samus now squares off with many more foes at once, puzzles require more thought and exploration, and players will be bounding across the biggest Metroid world ever in search of items, Space Pirates to exterminate and ultimately, the source of the phazon corruption itself. Combat is made more enjoyable thanks to increased response in the control system, and players will, after a minute long or so learning curve, be issuing pinpoint killing blows with minimal trouble using any of Samus' impressive arsenal. One of the most significant gameplay tweaks, however, comes in the form of Samus' new and super-improved Grapple Beam. Its old functions are still present, but its new functions reminded me of the Chain Rod from the Megaman Zero series. Now, the Grapple Beam can disarm enemies, remove their shields, dispatch smaller foes, pull objects towards you and even rip away walls, should they have a strong affinity for 'electrograpple forces'(I just thought this phrase was hilarious when I heard it for the first time in-game...). In addition to Samus' personal weapons, her gunship can be called in to give cover fire, act as a save point and even destroy some larger objects. The game might have been a good one on art direction and story delivery alone, but the gameplay is so good that it adds an extra level of amazement to an already impressive title.
Final Score: 9.5/10
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is not perfect in that it doesn't have the same impact on me as the first game did, and also because the level of solitude that makes Metroid such a hallmark franchise has been lost on this game. However, there is far more going for it. I could go on about how the world is detailed to the point where the composition of the environment is documented, right down to the makeup of the stone used to build corridors and other buildings. I could go on about the rebirth of the fantastic Prime gameplay formula on Nintendo's new console. I could shower this game with praise for so many different reasons, but I'll suffice to say that Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is a game that Wii owners must play, and cherish as the finest game on the system thus far.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 08/30/07
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