Review by sneggid

"The finale to a terrific trilogy is great but has an identity crisis"

As the third game in a trilogy within a franchise, it has a rich history to draw from and a solid backbone to base itself on. Yet Metroid Prime 3 is a game of extreme contradictions. While it loses some of the most important elements that make Metroid, Metroid, it brings back even more pieces from the holy bible of Metroid (and all 2D action adventure side scrollers for that matter), Super Metroid, and to a lesser extent Metroid Fusion. The game loses the sense of immersion and isolation, yet we see the return of beam stacking, ice missiles, and ledge grabbing, plus some bosses returning. The question then becomes whether the parts added make up for the loss of some of the key elements.

In short, no. However, the game as a cohesive whole is still a Metroid game, albeit a lesser one in some ways. Just certain sections and pieces are a letdown compared to the massive success of Prime 1 and 2.

The basics first. Graphically, the game is a massive step-up from the first Primes'. This is to be expected because of the generation leap. And for a Wii game, it is stunning. Artistically it's still a cut above everything that's not Metroid, although the designs are bland in some parts (such as planet Norion) and that's disappointing. However places such as the Pirate Homeworld are well designed and look great. Also as always creature designs are solid, varied and well developed.

The music is traditional Metroid fare, with a great mix of new and old. Notable returns are the Phenandra drifts theme and the Crateria theme from Super Metroid. The Ridley themes are great remixes as well, although still pale in comparison to the Super Metroid tune. The game as a whole is solid musically, although it has nothing standout that stays stuck in your head. I still had the main theme from Echoes in my head by the end of the game because nothing in this game was as memorable as that. Sound in general lets off satisfying bursts, although the sound the final beam shot makes is weak.

For the controls, while the layout and basic effect is the same, because the game is on Wii makes for an entirely different experience. Obviously the shooting is completely pointer based, which makes the shooting incredibly intuitive and a breath of fresh air for a console shooter. The PC and mouse controls are still more fluid, but the controls work great and turning is a quick fluid motion. (Note: this was based on the Advanced setting controls, the most responsive and fluid controls. I do not know how the other settings feel, and cannot offer an opinion as such.) Other motion controls are incorporated casually, and do well at adding needed immersion to the game. These include things such as hand scanners, physical removing of machinery and similar equipment. It takes some getting used to (although not as much as the original 2 Primes' took to understand) but is fluid and at times brilliant.

The one thing iconic in the Metroid series are bosses. Brilliant, memorable and epic. And here Prime 3 is solid. However, it's just solid. When stood by Prime 1 and 2 some bosses are great. However some are just disappointing and some are just not up there with the earlier games. Some high points are the Ridley battles, and all 3 hunter battles (especially Rundas). The proper Ridley battle is arguably the best one since Super Metroid's Ridley match. However between these battles are some lacklustre fights. The middle leviathan boss is weak, and some bosses are just repeated, which is plain lazy. Most disappointing is the fight with Dark Samus, which is weaker than all 3 Dark Samus face offs in Echoes. And the general feel of the bosses (and the whole game, but more on that later) is that they're just too easy. It's arguably good that they don't reach the frustrating difficulties of Echoes, but they never pose a serious challenge. The final boss in particular is just plain easy.

The other iconic part of Metroid is the atmosphere. No other game has the "Metroid" atmosphere. The sense of isolation consumes you and drives you on. The game becomes an obsession. But corruption doesn't have this. It almost has it, and the Pirate Homeworld is brilliant and the immersion is there for most of it. But that sense of Metroidness is missing. This is most likely due to one of the biggest additions of the game: voice acting, and with it a strong sense of plot pushing you forward. There's nothing wrong with the voice acting, it's at least adequate, and the plot itself is regular if not extraordinary (the final act is weak but that's minor). But what ruins the Metroid immersion, is that push forward. To push you forward, presumably to keep you wanting more, it gives you characters giving you instructions, and objectives to give you an idea of what to do. And while in a traditional game this works, this is a Metroid game. And a Metroid game is about finding your own way, with little to no help, and discovering everything on your own. And this is gone, and is the biggest disappointment from the game. Without that immersion, you lose the very thing they tried to add: that driving push. Because it was already there.

The biggest addition to the game is the Hyper Mode. After 2 games of encountering phazon, and avoiding it, Samus acquires Phazon weaponry. She becomes corrupted, and this lays the framework for the whole game. Samus' corruption and corruption in general is seen everywhere. The planets, the characters, the weapons. And the poison grows with you throughout the game.

Another addition fresh for the game is your ship. It becomes your go to save station, transportation and puzzle solver. It means that the game can include the traditional backtracking but stop it from ever becoming frustrating. Which is a good thing.

Speaking of frustrating elements, the fetch quest that has now become traditional for the final act of each Prime game is back. Thankfully it doesn't reach the pointlessness of Prime 2 and you collect around half of them as you progress. The last few to find are stupidly placed however, and it can be a bugger at times.

Just a brief mentioning of scanning. Completely optional and purely for a little bit more information. Because of the new push forward in story, scanning isn't needed for story anymore. So the scans are bits of backstory and interesting lore which develops the rich histories of the planets and their past dwellers. The lore entries are the highlights, but the research and creatures are poorly developed. Overall the scanning is worse than Prime 2, but still much better than Metroid Prime.

A call-back to Super Metroid is the beam stacking. No longer do you switch between beams like in the rest of the trilogy, but each beam replaces the old one, retaining the previous abilities. While this may lower the strategy that goes into the battles, the addition of ice missiles and hyper mode make up for this (arguably). And the system is streamlined and flows through the game nicely, although before your first beam upgrade you may think there's too big a gap stuck with the power beam, but it's pretty balanced overall.

Part of the joy of the Prime's is their addition of platforming and puzzles, reminding you that this isn't a shooter but an adventure game. The platforming is standard, and the only change is an increased use of the screw attack. The puzzles however are fewer, and in general easier. This is disappointing when compared to the intricacies of Echoes.

Speaking of general easiness, that sums up the game. It's just easier. With hyper mode battles are never a struggle, and my only game over on hard mode was against Moegnar (and that was me not destroying it properly rather than a sheer difficult battle). Energy tanks are in general more frequent, and there is no real challenge as you get to the end. The final area, while not spoiling anything, is dependent on your pacing and style to if you have trouble or not.

It seems like I'm overly criticizing of the game. The game itself is brilliant, fun, and compelling. The design is still Metroid-y, with backtracking forever present and the massive bosses it's famed for. It even has the style, design and sound of the others. It's just not doing all these features as well as the last two. However with the style of design and increased pace the game is never a chore or tedious like Prime 2 becomes. For these reasons it's just better overall than Echoes, but still fails to reach the brilliance of Metroid Prime

Overall 9.5. Still fantastic.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/16/10

Game Release: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (EU, 10/26/07)

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