Review by justsumdude899

"Trilogy finale a high note for Wii"

In some aspects, Metroid Prime 3 outshines its predecessors and stands as the best of the Prime series. At the same time, it falls short of lofty expectations, and in some regards, is bested by previous entries.

The obvious change is the new platform, which comes with new controls. The good news is they work beautifully and put earlier Wii developers' work to shame. This is the first FPS on the Wii that's had the proper time and effort put into it. For this reason alone, it makes Metroid Prime 3 an important game. It puts the theory of motion controls being superior to dual analogs to the test, and for the most part, it passes. Aiming is easier and more accurate. Adjusting to the exact spot you want to hit couldn't easier. But even by the end of the game, it felt like turning was too slow and more cumbersome than a dual analog setup. You can imagine being in the heat of battle and wanting to escape because you feel you can't turn and respond adequately enough. Thankfully, Metroid Prime 3 knows the control setup's limitations, and designs the game around it. Then there's also the fact that you have to always point at the TV. That means if you're sitting at an angle, it won't feel comfortable, and even in the correct position, it's less comfortable than simply holding a regular controller in your hand. So the revolutionary controls do have some advantages as well as some minor setbacks. The big point to get here, though, is that the controls work, and for once you'll be fighting the bad guys and not the bad controls. Compared to earlier work in the Prime series, the controls are light years ahead. Compared to early Wii games, they come as a blessing and reassurance.

The music and sound design is also the best in the series. A lot of sounds are familiar, but the score itself has been magnified to epic proportions. It's fitting for the end of a trilogy. And while at first glance, Prime could be mistaken for one of the Gamecube entries, play it long enough, and the graphical improvements are noticeable and appreciated.

The unfortunate weakness in this title doesn't come from the controls, or the sound or graphics, but lies in familiarity and the game design itself. For one, the game isn't much different than previous Prime games. You're still saving the galaxy one power-up at a time. That's all fine and good, and great gameplay isn't something to complain about, but it's not going to make the same impact as Metroid Prime did 5 years ago. That game revitalized a franchise and brought it into a new era and let us experience a Metroid adventure for the first time in modern gaming; Prime 3 just continues standards set by that game. There are slight changes, some good, some not so good. There are two action set pieces, one at the beginning of the game, and one near the end. These sequences feel like Halo, and because they don't affect the rest of the game or change core Metroid gameplay, I found them welcome additions. It changes up the pace, it adds something new, and it allows for great cinematic battles. Another welcome addition is the voice acting and bump in general overall presentation. For once a Nintendo game feels like modern game. Sure, it's not groundbreaking from a storytelling perspective (like Bioshock), but at least Retro brought Nintendo into the 21st century. I might get spoiled and start to expect this.

The most disappointing change is that Metroid has now also been slightly dumbed down. In the first two Primes, I often struggled with the bosses, and I would sometimes die and have to replay large sections of the game. One thing I'm happy about is that Retro has added checkpoints, so you won't always have to start at the last save station. That I am happy about, but I also barely had to use it, because the difficulty has been lowered. I could never beat the final boss in the first two Primes, but in Prime 3 I blasted through the game virtually unchallenged. Am I happy the final boss was easier? Yes. Did I want the whole game to be easier? Definitely not. It's a fine balance finding just the right difficulty, and I suspect Retro was encouraged to make it just a little bit easier than they wanted. It's too bad, because the dififculty in the first two Primes was nearly perfect, and just a slight decrease would have been enough. I suppose those complaints are nullified with the options of harder difficulty settings, but my biggest complaint can never be fixed. The world, the actual level designs, aren't as interesting as they were in Prime 1 or even, dare I say it, Echoes.

Sky Town, the level that feels much like the center of the game, is just plain not fun to explore. It's a bunch of tiny islands suspended in the sky, with set paths between them. It's like WInd Waker in the sky, but you have to travel in a straight line. And the islands themselves are vertically built, so it's confusing and about as fun as navigating a skyscraper. The other areas are okay, but there just seems to be less to explore in general. Metroid Prime 1 felt like this great big world, each area was inspired, each had tons of secrets to find, each felt massive and expansive. The decision to break up the areas into different planets I think greatly hurt the level design, despite how cool it was to finally take the gunship for a spin.

And finally, as further proof that there have been cuts in level design, I completed my mission in 11 hours and 22 minutes (of course, that is probably at a bare minimum 55%). The other Prime game took me twice as long just to reach the final area. So it's length has been shortened, the levels are smaller, and the designs of the levels are only equally as clever as previous entries at best.

I fully enjoyed Metroid Prime 3, and I think the Wii deserves more games like this, and less hastily assembled PS2 ports and distractions like Carnival Games. It looks and feels a lot like its predecessors, and that's not such a bad thing, but the change in controls is better and more fun, and the overall bump in presentation hardly goes unnoticed. At the same time, I'm not going to kid myself (or anybody else) into thinking that it's greater than it is, let alone that it's groundbreaking or the greatest game ever. It's not. It's a great Nintendo adventure, and we could use more of them.


Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 09/05/07

Game Release: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (US, 08/27/07)

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