Review by AK_the_Twilight

"The Phazon Finish"

Back in the days of the NES, an interesting little shooter/platformer/adventure title was released. Designed by famed Nintendo visionary Gunpei Yokoi, the Metroid series, an interesting space exploration game debuted. The game was an instant classic, generating praise from adventure fans and side-scrolling fans alike. After some stellar sequels in Metroid II: Return of Samus for the Game Boy and Super Metroid for the SNES, strong-willed Samus Aran took a long hiatus only making small appearance in the Super Smash Bros. series. In 2002, legendary bounty hunter and Nintendo fan favorite Samus Aran made a grand story on the Gamecube with one of the most creative, atmospheric, high-quality games in the console's history: Metroid Prime. Designed by rookie developer Retro Studios, the game took off with critical acclaim and excellent sales. The second Metroid Prime game, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, along with the DS shooter Metroid Prime: Hunters added even more excellent quality to the series. Now the Wii is here, and it's about time Ms. Aran had her turn on the console. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is Samus's first adventure on the Wii. Does it live up to its name?

Taking place after the events of the first two Metroid Prime games, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption begins with a space pirate attack on a local space colony, with Samus Aran once again dragged into a battle against the intergalactic criminals. Back from the dead comes Dark Samus, the Phazon-infused antagonist of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, who turns the tables against Samus by infecting her with Phazon and changing up her molecular data. Now infected with the Phazon poison, Samus begins an internal struggle to control the Phazon energy. With her own molecular identity on the line, Samus must work with the space military to find the source of Phazon and ultimately destroy it. The story is a much more cinematic approach to Metroid Prime, but it definitely loses a great deal of the isolated feeling of past Metroid Prime games. Having so much interaction from secondary characters seems to take away what made Metroid Prime so haunting and atmospheric. On the other hand, Corruption wraps up a great deal of the trilogy's trappings, closing out the Phazon storyline in a remarkably epic fashion. It takes the storyline in a new direction, but Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is a great clincher to the Metroid Prime trilogy.

With motion controls now the name of the game, it's to be expected that the first Metroid title for the Wii takes advantage of them. Fortunately, the folks at Retro Studios took the controls of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption into serious consideration and the result is phenomenal. The Wii is used as a pointer in-game, allowing the player to look around by pointing the Wii Remote, with a reticule being on-screen. The player moves with the Nunchuk's analog stick and can lock-on to a target with the Z button. Unlike the Gamecube Metroid Prime games, a simple lock-on doesn't guarantee a direct hit. Instead, the player must use the Wii Remote to point at the target while locking on. Shooting with the A button and jumping with the B-Trigger tie together well, and though some practice is definitely suggested, the overall result is a phenomenal new way to play from a first-person perspective. The only real issue with these controls is changing visors, which is used by holding the – button and selecting from a “menu” of sorts. It feels a bit clumsy and in the heat of battle, selecting a different visor can feel a bit off. Fortunately, the rest of the game controls amazingly. It was a serious feat translating the Metroid Prime “lock and strafe” gameplay to the Wii, and while it definitely feels different, it makes for one of the best shooter setups seen on the Wii.

Samus's arsenal in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is an interesting change-up from the Gamecube Metroid Prime games. New to the mix is Hypermode. By pressing and holding the + button on the Wii Remote, Samus can expend energy to let loose the Phazon power within her, allowing for stronger, Phazon-based attacks. Samus can also use her Grapple Beam to traverse long gaps and even rip off armor in combat. The different power-ups available throughout Corruption are unique and cleverly designed; it's exciting just to see what new ability Samus will find next. The Morph Ball makes a triumphant return and the different available weapons (now upgradeable instead of selectable) are fun to implement. Each new upgrade is useful and offers new ways to play, with the end result being a brilliant selection of skills that could rival the original Metroid Prime.

A majority of the gameplay in Corruption is similar to past Metroid games: fight some enemies, solve a puzzle or two, fight a boss, earn a new item, repeat. It's a simple formula, but the Metroid Prime series has refined this concept considerably, and Corruption is no different. The puzzle designs usually involve some use of the information-gathering Scan Visor, but with brand new weapons available in Corruption, the experience feels fresh again. There are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, and returning to areas with new weapons feels empowering. The puzzles aren't the most complex, but they're clever and rewarding, well worth the effort. It doesn't stray too far from the formula, but it's a winning formula that remains the one of the series' greatest aspects.

Quite possibly the biggest change Corruption brings to the table is the combat, which uses the new shooting mechanics in great new ways. Many of the enemy encounters are much more challenging than in past Metroid Prime games, especially the bosses, but the end result is amazingly satisfying. The only problem with this though is the emphasis itself; there's much more combat in Corruption, for better or for worse. The combat is fun, but it can feel like a bit too much at times. While Corruption may satisfy shooter fans more than its predecessors did, fans of former games in the series may feel discouraged at the combat emphasis. Fortunately, the puzzles and exploration aspects are still there (in good number and quality) even if combat has taken a higher priority.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is a lengthy game, especially if you decide to scan everything, collect every pick-up, and uncover every secret. Clocking out at around 15 hours, Corruption has plenty to do once the game is finished. Aside from getting 100%, you can spend credits to unlock picture galleries, play on new difficulty settings, or simply try your own at a speed run. Credits can be earned with Achievement-like feats throughout the game, and uncovering them all takes some serious skill and time. On the Story Mode's own merits, the controls add a new dimension and challenge to Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, regardless of the unlockable content. While the overall design doesn't possess the diversity of the first Metroid Prime, Corruption is still worth revisiting, if only to finish the Phazon battle once more.

The original Metroid Prime was one of the best looking games of its generation, and while Corruption isn't the best seen on Wii, it does capture a great deal of the series' graphical strength. The different worlds have their shares of beauty, and while you won't find the juxtaposition or diversity of the original Metroid Prime, you will find some striking vistas and excellent action sequences. The different animations are shown well, especially in the enemy designs, and seeing how they react to attacks is very well done. There are some loading problems, as doors won't open immediately after activating them, but overlooking this is relatively simple. As far as sound goes, the atmospheric music is extremely well-crafted, both in battle and in exploration. Choral sounds echo throughout the vast worlds and the overall music design is stellar to say the least. Corruption also uses voice acting, which feels a bit odd in practice. The isolation is severed with spoken word blaring in your visor, and overall, it makes it feel crowded. The presentation takes some new turns, some good and some bad, but in the end it looks and sounds beautifully, a worthy end to the Metroid Prime trilogy.

+ Excellent control setup sets the bar for FPS games on Wii
+ Plenty of challenging and clever puzzles
+ Nice graphic design
+ High-intensity action makes enemy encounters fun

- Some loading between rooms
- Voice acting feels unnecessary
- Focuses a bit too much on combat
- Lacks the ambiance and isolation of its predecessors

Looking back at how Retro Studios has taken good care of this franchise, it's no surprise that fans demanded something brand new in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. The Metroid Prime series has had a long and successful run on Nintendo's systems and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is a worthy finisher of this incredible trilogy of games. Although it pushes the series in a few new directions and doesn't deliver on the level of the past two games, it's still a remarkable achievement with precise controls, unforgettable bosses, and a ton of unique gameplay mechanics that will hopefully become standards for future shooters on the Wii. It's a thorough challenge, with some excellent uses of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. Combat is diverse, challenging, and fun. The exploration aspects have been toned down a great deal, but Metroid Prime 3: Corruption manages to make a great shooting system for the Wii. Although it doesn't play by Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes' rules, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption introduces some fun progressions and shows a bright future for shooters on Nintendo's latest system. It's currently one of the best Wii games seen yet and is a definite buy for both newcomers and Metroid veterans.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/19/09

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

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