Review by SurgeFox

"Lock your door, close your blinds, tell your girlfriend that you're sick, Metroid Prime 3 is here."

Trilogies don't always end well. Often times the concept loses steam long before the third installment, or the producers simply run out of creative juice. This appeared to be the case with the Metroid Prime franchise. While the first was a ground-breaking achievement, the second lacked the spark that seperates elite games from the good ones. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is finally hear, but does it continue the downwards slope, or ascend?

If you've completed the prior two Prime games, then it's no secret that Samus was infected with Phazon. This is what Metroid Prime 3 is all about. At the game's outset, there's a setup about several super computers that have been infected by a virus, and it's Samus's job to cure them all. This is really a superficial front, as it is clear that the story is about bounty hunter Samus Aran's struggle to rid the Phazon running through her veins.

Prime 3 includes a ton of voice acting and plenty of cinematics, giving a more commercial appeal. At the same time, these elements don't completely invade the experience and grip away the feeling of desolation that has always prevaded the series.

There's a lot of exposition off the top. The middle of the game settles into a nice Metroid-esque gameplay, and then at the end, things are tied together in a mind-ripping conclusion. While the bump in production values is nice, the story for the most part is a typical story for Metroid fans. You'll get a much more meaningful experience out of scanning and reading logs than watching the cinematics.

The biggest design change is how you start the game. Instead of Samus losing all of her powers, she's adequately equipped at the beginning of the game. But that doesn't mean that she doesn't finish the game with a plethora of upgrades. You start out a badass, and will finish the game as a badass. I don't want to spoil anything, but all of Samus's abilities are front-centered and are executed flawlessly. In prior Prime games, Samus would end of collecting a number of different beam types. Here, they all basically function the same, minus a color swap and the abilities to open a number of different area passages. Once you've collected a new beam, the beam inherits the abilities of the prior beams, so therefore there's no need to go back to the older armories.

Corruption is a much more neatly arranged package than the prior two games. Instead of there being one huge, confusing world, there are a variety of planets that Samus has to visit along her quest. The areas on each planet are much easier and compact to understand, especially when you're looking at the wireframe map. Samus's ship is used to get from planet to planet using multiple landing points on each one and a number of other things.

Corruption definitely has something that the first two games had; it wouldn't be a Metroid game without it, but with distinct levels, Prime 3 has struck a near-perfect balance. Where objectives are concerned, they run a gambit from investigating energy spikes, defeating certain enemies, defending allies and more. There's a check point system in the game that allows you to continues from the last significant event rather than your last save point, which helps curve the frustration. The game moves at a break-neck pace the majority of the time, but then at the end, you're forced to go on a pointless scavenger hunt that grinds things to a screeching halt. It's a shame, because of the 4 or 5 hours leading up to it are some of the greatest moments in gaming ever burned on to a disc.

There's little doubt that Metroid Prime Corruption has been designed to be more approachable for the average player. The back-tracking has been stream lined, mission objectives are clearer, upgrades and power ups come in at a furious pace, and it's all for the better. Clocking in about 20 hours of playtime, it gives you plenty of value for your money.

The first Metroid Prime was revolutionary for its lock-on system Prime 3 should be viewed in the same way. All the promise for sublimed first person controls have been put to prowession here, and simply put, this proves there is no better control option on any console. You can still lock-on to enemies, but you can also fine-tune your aim. The default sensitivity is perfect, and you'll be picking off the smallest enemies from a distance with pin-point accuarcy after just a few minutes of play, and you'll never want to play a shooting game with dual analog sticks ever again, it's that good. However, there is one issue. Because the world is so colorful, it can sometimes blend in to the background, making it difficult to line up shots. This aside, the projectile combat is simply incredible. The other Wii-specific controls don't fair quite as well. You'll be doing everything from flipping switches to shaking off enemies, but like a lot of other Wii games, it has problems picking up when the controller is getting closer to or farther away from the screen. It can be annoying, but thankfully, it's not a huge part of the gameplay, and you're never underdressed when you're trying to make it work. Corruption wouldn't be a Metroid game without the Morph Ball, and Prime 3 gives you just enough of Samus's spherical form without going overboard.

There are four different visors in the game; there are the typical combat and scan types, but there's also an X-ray visor and most importantly, the command visor. This allows you to control Samus's ship, and you'll be suprised at just how versatile it can be. Not only can you call it in for bombing runs, but you can also use it as a portable save point if you find a landing pad as a platform to reach new areas. You'll find yourself building a bond with the ship, which is something you rarely see in games. Swapping visors is a snap, and overall, the way Corruption handles so many commands with just a few buttons is worthy of accomodation.

Somethings fans may find frustrating about Prime 3 is the difficulty level of the game. Levels don't prove much of a challenge, and bosses can usually be defeated on the first try. This is because of the newly added "Hyper Mode". Holding down the plus button will send Phazon coarsing through Samus' veins, sending her to a vicious rage. The game's most feared enemies can be decimated with just a few blasts, and it quickly becomes a crush to lean on in times when you're low on health. Quibbling issues aside, playing Metroid Prime 3 can be a near religious experience. It's one of those games where everything just comes together in just clicks. The learning curve is slight, targeting is razor sharp, and the action is practically non-stop.

It's almost assumed that more polygons, shaders, and particle effects make a better looking game. Metroid Prime 3 proves that art trumps all, and that games just need greater gameplay to be maxed out to their full potential. Corruption is easily the most visually appealing game on the Wii console, and can hold its own against any other platform. It runs like grease lightning, never pausing or stuttering as if it likes whipping the Wii's poor little processer into a tizzy. Not to say it's not technically impressive though. It's pushing loads of geometry while displaying loads of amazing visual effects. It's one of those games that looks better and better the farther you go. Motivating you to turn the corner to view the next breath-taking vista, after a couple hours with Corruption, Nintendo's theory of gameplay over graphics will start to make a whole lot of sense.

The original Metroid Prime is one of the highest rated games in existence, but Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is easily superior. It's far less frustrating and more action-packed while managing to redefine shooting controls in the process. Hardcore Metroid purists may cry foul, but for everyone else, this is the Metroid you've been waiting for, with literally dozens of set piece moments that will grip you up, shake you around, and leave you begging for more.

Final Score - 96%

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/03/08

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

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