Review by Crazee Boy
"Samus makes her triumphant debut on the Wii, and a triumphant end comes to the Prime story arc."
So, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Technically the fourth game in the Prime story arc (don't forget Hunters), but let's not be nit picky. I didn't play this on my own Wii; in fact, I don't own one of the elusive little buggers yet, but I played the entire game on my cousin's console. (That is, infrequently.) After Echoes, which I thought was better than Prime, I had very high expectations. They were stomped at first, during Corruption's fast-paced and far from lonely introduction. However, after this lengthy, though exciting and intuitive introduction, the game mostly went back to it's roots; lonely exploration, though occasionally interrupted by some NPCs.
This is the best looking of the Prime games, and probably the best looking game on the Wii.
The environments are varied and exquisitely detailed. I've recently begun replaying Metroid Prime, and I'm quite amazed by how much Corruption improves on it's predecessors in the detail department. The light as it reflects off of Samus' arm cannon is mesmerizing, rain droplets form on your visor when you look up into a storm, and there's so much... Well, stuff in almost every room. Just little things added in for detail. For good measure. Furthermore, practically everything can be scanned. This was fairly limited in Prime and Echoes, but in Corruption, the amount of scanning is staggering.
Your enemies are also excellently detailed. The Space Pirates, your main enemies here, are extremely good looking. Also, what would a Metroid game be without lots of little critters around? It wouldn't be Metroid, I tells you. They're also nice and detailed, such as the little maintenance robots on the planet Elysia.
Know what else is detailed? Samus. And not just her fantastic-looking suit during the cut scenes, but the cannon you'll be seeing a lot of. If you played Prime and Echoes, you probably noticed that the cannon typically opens in three ways, in both games. Well, in Corruption, you'll see most of the same cannon shapes, and a new one. Some call it lazy, I call it consistent!
Holy visual effects, Batman! How about a little steam? Not your bag? Perhaps you'd like some realistic liquid physics. Not all the effects are in the environment, though. The little animation for entering Hypermode, discussed later, is excellent and cool looking. The screen compresses sideways and distorts, and blows back into shape when you enter Hypermode. And while you're like this, the color disappears blue particles appear all over the place. Definitely a treat to see. Even when you get killed is, well, cool. Though brief, when your energy runs out, the visor slowly dies like an old TV. A lot of work went into making you feel like the hunter behind the visor.
The sound in this game, I feel, surpasses the previous two Primes. While many a sound effect are reused, such as the sound of Samus' Power Beam, the Morph Ball initializing, or the cannon loading a missile after it's fired one. However, those would make sense to keep. There's plenty of new sounds, and they're mostly very good. When Samus enters Hypermode, to go with the awesome screen-squishing effect, a noise not unlike the THX Sound plays. (You know, that synthesized blast of noise played at movies. "The audience is now deaf.") The Plasma Beam, one of Samus' classic weapons, got an improved sound effect. Though a basic shot still provides a "whoosh" noise, the super-heated weapon snarls and screeches when it's charged. That might seem irritating, but it's actually very cool.
Enemies make good noises. Stock ones, though. You have roars, screeches, snarls, et cetera. The Space Pirates have their classic "language" from the previous Primes. That angry chattering kind of sound.
You may have heard it elsewhere, but Prime 3 features full voice acting. Samus herself doesn't talk, aside from the occasional grunt, but everyone else does. The "Aurora Unit" that guides you, (Think Mother Brain but good) the Galactic Federation soldiers, and your fellow bounty hunters. (More on these posers later.)
The sound is satisfying, and it helps to immerse you in the game. The voice acting doesn't take anything away, either.
I feel like I got stabbed in the back here. Prime and Echoes had fantastic soundtracks. Echoes, for reference, has my favorite soundtrack of all time. While for that game, Retro had the decency to compose a completely new soundtrack, Corruption has a startling number of tunes just lifted from the last two games. Not even remixed! The "item acquired" theme wasn't ruined, at least...
In the last two, the music felt like an extension of the environment. In Prime, as you explored the Phazon Mines, an eerie chord composition played, going with the dark, radiation-filled atmosphere. In Echoes, when you first explored the Dark World, you heard soft, electronic chimes, occasionally followed a few thumps of a drum, like a heart beat. Perfect. In Corruption... Well, not so much. The music sounds Metroid-like, but it also feels very unimaginative. The very Aztec-like planet Bryyo's main theme is a medium-paced track consisting of drums, with classic Metroid Prime chanting over it. Still, at least there's some original songs in there.
I've never played a game with more intuitive controls. Veterans of Prime and Echoes, fear not. The controls are easy to leap into and so much better than the classic GameCube controls. I know what you're thinking. "BLASPHEMY!" Well, shut up and open your mind. You move with the control stick on the nunchuk, aim with the remote (which is extremely immersive and responsive), fire with A, and you can become the Morph Ball with C, and B jumps, which is still as natural as ever. Z locks on. While the game no longer auto-aims, you can still keep tabs on the enemy by always keeping them centered in your view.
So, besides the satisfaction of aiming on your own, what else does this control scheme bring? Well, you can now free look without having hold R. This also means you can swing from the grappling hook and blast your enemies to bits, which is stylish as can be. Changing visors is very different, and will take some getting used to, I'm afraid to admit. You hold the Minus button, bringing up an overlay showing your visors, and point at the one you want. Let go of Minus and it's yours. These icons are huge, taking up a third of the screen each for easy access, but the overlay is transparent, so you can still run and jump. Holding Plus activates (and exits) Hypermode. By pressing down on the D-pad, you fire a missile, which is quite awkward at first.
Some of the context-based controls aren't as responsive as I'd like, requiring some screwing around to make them work, but you're generally not under attack when you have to perform these. Not all panels require scanning to activate; in fact, a lot of them require you to press A, which makes Samus put her palm on a nearby reader. In others, you might have to jerk a fuel cell out of a machine. You press a to grab it, twist it to dislodge it, and pull it loose. Other times, you may need to simulate grabbing a lever and pulling it back. Some gestures aren't as sensitive, though, such as the one you'll use most often in combat. Some Pirates have shields, and you can lock onto it, "throw" the nunchuk at the screen, which casts your grapple beam to it, and then jerk back to rip off the shield. It's fun and stylish.
For bringing you one huge step closer to being Samus, the controls get a perfect ten. Once you get used to it, there's no looking back. Not just for Metroid Prime, but for FPS controls in general.
A bigger emphasis on shooting and combat, more talking than any other Metroid game, and more linear gameplay seeks to make Corruption more accessible. Throughout the game, I noted how different it felt from Prime and Echoes, but I felt satisfied that it managed to combine classic and modern elements without either of them feeling too tacked-on. The platforming, as it was in the first two games, is still fun, abundant, and feels extremely natural. There's a bigger emphasis on combat, but the excellent new control scheme makes most battles pretty fun. In an attempt to make things more challenging, though, most of the enemies have Hypermode like you. Now, while Samus in invulnerable in Hypermode, these enemies aren't; they just seem like it! Generally, the only reasonable way to kill them is to pop into Hypermode, blast them, and exit it.
Now, about Hypermode... This is one of the big new features of the game. I'll explain it later in the story section, but Samus' body is producing Phazon. Using the PED (Phazon Enhancement Device) Suit, she can harness this Phazon. By holding Plus, you dump an energy tank into the PED, geeking our heroine out on the radioactive substance. In Hypermode, she fires raw Phazon, shredding enemies and destroying certain materials. A white bar appears at the top of the screen, depleting with each attack. Now, to exit it, you can either fire until your PED's tank is empty, wait for the 25-second safety feature to auto-vent you, or hold plus again, which returns the energy you didn't use. Hypermode changes after a point, though. Early in the game, after a required use of Hypermode, Samus becomes corrupted, hence the game's title. When you enter Hypermode after that, after about five seconds, the gauge turns red and steadily increases, while Samus' heart audibly beats in the background. After that, you can't exit with plus. You can use this to your advantage (staying in Hypermode longer), but if it fills, you die on the spot, and you're required to blow the entire energy tank. Remember that 25-second safety feature? That's to keep you from abusing Hypermode.
Now that Hypermode is out of the way, onto more gameplay. The classic Metroid elements are there. You explore for awhile, collecting missile expansions and energy tanks, killing enemies, and then you come across a new item, which allows you to explore elsewhere. Occasionally, you receive transmissions from NPCs, giving you objectives most of the time, or giving you a much-needed push in the right direction after a big boss battle. The hand-holding isn't as bad as it was in Fusion, but the game feels very much for casual players in this regard. Your suit also isn't stingy on the hints, but they're at least clever. Like how in Prime, when it was time for the Ice Beam, the suit would tell you it located an "unusual cold spike" and mark a room on your map. It doesn't just say "Go to (place) for (item)", which is a nice touch. The items are still fun to use, some of them holdovers from Prime and Echoes, while some are new. However, the items seem a bit limited. For example, not including the Power Beam, there are two beams. Yes. Two. The Beam system also stacks them now, like in 2D Metroid games. Unlike Super Metroid, they can't be toggled, but when you replace a beam, it has all the functions of the last one. (For example, the Nova Beam, the last one you get, can open red doors like the Plasma Beam.)
Rather than exploring one huge planet, you explore several planets and ships. There's Norion, the base of operations for the Galactic Federation and overall Earth-like planet, the rain forest/Aztec-like planet Bryyo, the stormy planet Elysia with it's city on floating platforms, the ominous and ruined Pirate Homeworld, and a final planet which I won't spoil.
There are some nice touches here and there. While not necessary, you can play with all of the things in Samus' ship. You can check your kills and Hypermode uses, play with the thrusters, put up the shield, et cetera.
The abundance of NPC talk definitely helps to flesh out the story. Rather than learning the story through scans as in Prime, or occasionally talking to U-Mos in Echoes, you're constantly reminded and updated on things by the NPCs.
Here's the deal. A Phazon computer virus is spreading through the Aurora Units of the Galactic Federation, bio-organic supercomputers that form a network. The GF managed to cut off the network to prevent the virus from spreading, but now they're about defenseless. To make matters worse, the Space Pirates decide to wage all-out war around this time.
There are three other hunters besides Samus. The ice-based Rundas, a frail-looking android with a massive combat shell, Ghor, and a playful, shape shifting woman named Gandrayda. They were hired by the GF like Samus to help spread the virus vaccine and battle the pirates. After the very exciting introduction, in which a Phazon meteorite is about the strike the planet you're on, Dark Samus makes her re-appearance, blasting every hunter including Samus into a coma. The other hunters awaken after two weeks, and Samus awakens two weeks after them. All of them had been corrupted, and so the GF gave them all PED units. When contact with all three of the other hunters is lost, however, a corrupted Samus Aran is tasked with finding them, restoring the Aurora Units, and destroying the "Leviathan Seeds", one of which was about to strike Norion. These seeds, when they hit a planet, corrupt it with Phazon, just like Tallon IV from Prime and Aether from Echoes.
I won't spoil anything past the prologue, but the story is pretty exciting, and brings a pretty satisfying end to the Prime story.
Due to it's length, a second play through may not be on your to-do list, but there are some incentives. For example, there's three difficulties (Normal, Veteran, and Hypermode), and everything scanned in the last play through is already in your logbook the next time you play. I do have a beef with the bonus stuff, however. In Prime and Echoes, getting every scan and beating the game on Hard, as well as getting every item, unlocked all of the bonus stuff. In Corruption, you can earn tokens through the game. These come in four flavors. Red, blue, gold, and green. The first three can be acquired fairly easily, but the green ones... For those, you have to use a "Friend Voucher", an item acquired in-game. You send it to someone on your Wii friend roster, and they get a green token. Hopefully they'll send YOU a voucher. And you need seventeen, yes, SEVENTEEN of these tokens total. Once I have a Wii, I won't even be able to get online. So while I can use red, blue and gold tokens to unlock bonus content, anything requiring greens is out of my reach. Thanks a lot, Retro.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption brings the series to a climactic end, but feels like a different beast from Prime and Echoes. The streamlined elements and an overall lack of equipment might feel a bit like a stab in the back to longtime fans, but there's some Metroid goodness in there. The controls are excellent, the graphics are amazing, and just about anyone could enjoy this game. While 8 might seem like an average score, it's not. 5 is average. 8 is pretty damn good. So I recommend that you get it, play it, and love it.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 12/25/07
Game Release: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (US, 08/27/07)
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