Review by Grenade_KaBoom
Why this game fell short from the others.
Way back in 2002, Metroid Prime was a groundbreaking game. Its sheer amount of attention to detail was unseen at that time. Its graphics were almost photo-realistic in the day. Its world was massive and its puzzles were complex. Its plot was deep and thoughtful and its pace was perfect.
Then there came Metorid Prime 2, which was a good but not perfect followup. It took things forward in the gameplay with more powers, more puzzles, bigger and better boss fights, more gameplay, a bigger world, a deeper plot... it was bigger and better, but not dumber. Some people argued it was too hard, which is why it's not perfect, but nobody would argue that it was a good followup.
Then, a year later than when it was supposed to be released, there was Metroid Prime 3.
It did not take things forward in gameplay. There were some new cool ideas, but there were less powers than Metroid Prime 2 or 1, less puzzles which were all simpler, smaller and easier boss fights, less gameplay, smaller world and much more straightforward plot. It was smaller, shorter as well as dumber.
Most people loved it, though. It seemed to be a very well received game. But here's why.
After having beaten the first game 12 times, second game 9 times and third game 3 times, having gotten 100% items on all difficulties, and having had about 5 years to think about it, I realized... Metroid Prime 3 was not just a change in direction. It was a change in demographic. It was not meant for the then older teenagers who had been fans of the very intelligent first two Prime games in past years. It was designed for the cutscene-loving, warfare indulging 12-year-old fans that were into games like Halo 3 and Modern Warfare. It didn't just deviate from the 'Metroid Formula' as many simply accuse: it had taken on the 'Formula' of today's modern, big, dumb shooter, to a large extent.
The rest of this review is here to explain why, without touching any major spoilers.
First, let's talk about powerups. The shining point of all metroid games, and basically the thing the series is known for.
In Metroid Prime 1, you had a massive arsenal of powerups, including:
4 interchangeable beams, each with its own unique super missile attack, 2 unique visors meant to illuminate areas and find secrets, and 2 main suit upgrades that allow you to access lots of new areas and do new things.
In Prime 2:
scatter missiles, 3 different beams with different super missile attacks, 2 different visors, 2 major suit upgrades that are absolutely vital to beating the game, and drastically upgraded spider ball with better spider-ball parts of the game.
In Prime 3, you had:
1 beam that changed as the game went on, that had no super missile attacks,1 alternate visor which was just a different version of a visor from Prime 1, 1 main suit upgrade that does nothing but allow you to access the second half of one game world, and Scatter Missiles (same from Prime 2.)
Yes, there were a few powers unique to Prime 3, but still. Comparing these lists, Prime 3 had the least amount of powers and the least ways to use them. If you think I'm wrong, Nintendo even openly admitted this, using the excuse that there were not enough buttons on the Wii controller to transfer over how complex the first 2 games were. That's all good and fine, except... two years later, they transferred Metroid Prime 1 and 2 to the Wii, and they worked perfectly. Some people argue they worked better than the Gamecube ones. So much for that excuse. This means they intentionally made this game far simpler to play, and it wasn't because of the controller's limitations. They also lied about why it was simpler, because the real reason may have been a bit to shameful to publicly state.
Point 1 for me.
With the exception of Metroid Fusion, Metroid games are all about exploration. In the other two Prime games, the worlds were very large, and there was no strictly specific way to go about the game. While Prime 3 did keep this to some extent, the anatomy of the maps changed the way it was done. Most of the rooms in this game had two doors; one you enter in, one you exit. There were also generally fewer rooms each level than in the previous Prime games.
The game world itself as a whole was also smaller. Yes, there is that thing where you get to go from planet to planet, but I don't see how that's too different from the other games. There's a few places you get to use your ship in each world, where you can transfer to another world. But, each world map is noticeably smaller than the maps from Prime 1 and 2 (except for Skytown Elysia; that one was pretty big) and you didn't spend quite as much time exploring each one. You also spent far less time going back to places you've gone before.
Fighting and Bosses
Ah, the fighting and bosses. Two more staples in the Metroid Prime series. Good fighting parts and elaborate and fun boss fights are very important to a Metroid Prime game's quality. While I do feel this game did what they had to pretty well, it didn't stand up to the other two Prime games for several reasons.
For one, the fight scenes are very straightforward. It's generally all about going onto Phazon mode and shooting away until you get back into the next Phazon mode. Even on the hardest difficulty I found most of the fights to be pretty simple, with an exception of one or two. While this certainly was not one of the worst aspects of this game, it didn't match up to what Prime 1 and 2 did.
The bosses, however, were a drastic step down from the other two games. Most of the bosses in Prime 3 come down to finding where to shoot and shooting it. There was nothing like in Prime 1 where you had to shoot the knee-pads and shoulder-pads of the giant space pirate, then switch your visor while looking around the room to see where he will suddenly appear and in what visor he will be visible, at the same time as avoiding enemy fire from regular space pirates. There was nothing like in Prime 2 where you had to circle around the body of the giant metallic spider robot and time your boost-ball blasts just right to latch onto its floating head after using your spider ball to climb up its legs. In Metroid Prime 3, it was mostly simple point-and-shoot action. While there were some good moments, it just got repetitive and lacked creativity most of the time. It was even to the extent where they actually re-do the very same boss fight later on the game for a mini-boss. It lacked the sheer amount of ingenious creativity the other two games had with their boss fights.
If you didn't know, Metroid Prime has a very, very cool plotline with lots of back-stories that all add their own content to the plot. It doesn't look like it from the surface, but the Prime series is one of the high points of science fiction storytelling in a videogame.
Or, at least it was.
While Prime 3 technically wasn't a dumb or silly game when it came to its plot, it was very different from the other two. For one, in Prime 1 and 2, you had to search for yourself about all the side plots and what was truly going on, and you were able to take in as much or as little as you desired. I noticed that in Prime 3, they basically shove all the important details down your throat and force you to understand them. At that, though, I feel they failed.
At the end of the game, there were several major questions left utterly unanswered, and there was more than one major plot hole. The resolution to the game was extremely un-fitting to how detailed the other two games were. For one example, while they do technically tell you where Phazon came from, they never hint to telling you where its source came from. So, in the end, you still have no clue where it truly came from or what it even is to start with. Yes, while that ship following you at the end was all mysterious, in light of the crater-impact sized plot holes they left, I could care less for a cliffhanger. I have no respect for any writer or director or game-creator who cannot come up with a good and logical ending to a story like what this game had. Metroid Prime deserved a logical and well-rounded ending. I need to live with the fact that it never received that.
This is one of the reasons why I feel this game follows the formula of today's standard modern shooter. There were other characters in this game you interact with, and for the most part, they're pretty shallow and serve no real purpose beyond trying to make the game feel more 'modern'. There was even a part towards the end where you are with a bunch of troops, fighting along with them and having to protect them from dying. And this is a Metroid game, not a Halo game, mind you.
As for the main set of characters, they only appear a few times. Basically, not too far off from the start, they become evil, and one-by-one you have to kill them off. Here's the catch: Retro expected you to feel sorry for them. After having each character interact with you one or two times each, you were supposed to feel sorry about killing them later on. At that, they are all dead by about half way through the game. So much for character development.
Then, there was the aurora unit, which even though is a robot, talks like a human enough to be a character. She basically tells you where to go and what to do at every point of the game. And... to be quite honest... she reminded me a slight bit of Cortana from the Halo games. She was a totally different character, but to me, she served a similar purpose when it came to gameplay. It's enough I could tell the Aurora Unit who talks to you was probably inspired by Cortana.
And not to mention, Fleet Admiral Dane REALLY reminded me of Captain Keyes from Halo 1.
Through all this, it just made the game feel a bit cluttered. Again, it didn't just make a change, it made a contrast to the other two games. You never truly felt alone or isolated with that aurora unit there, who you couldn't turn off. Yes, I understand that Prime 2 had that U-Mos guy, but he only appeared a few times through the whole game and didn't even speak English. He barely counts. Prime 3's characters completely changed the game and made it into a totally different experience, that didn't turn out to be better than the old games in any way.
In the very least, though, they did not yet cross the line to actually make Samus talk. This unforgivable sin would not occur until Other M comes out a few years later. At this point, though, Samus does not actually talk, and for that I do credit them.
At the end of the day, this game falls short of the first two in many ways. This game was not technically a terrible game, but it was not a true sequel to Prime 2 and 3. It was a sequel, but it was not built for the fans of the first two games. If it were, I feel this game would have bosses, puzzles, powers, maps, and a story like the other two. The fact it didn't tells me that it was not made for the fans of the first two games. I would more compare it to Halo, even though MP3 is not a true shooter.
Halo 3 has: straightforward gameplay, lots of characters (including a female computer who guides you), a plot that's more told than shown, some military based gameplay and a short story-mode. I would not say that Prime 3 more resembles Halo 3 than the other Prime games, but the point is, it's such a massive deviation from the first two Prime games that you can make real comparisons like that. To me, it seemed to sell out and conform to what they knew the mass of gamers loved, opposed to stick to what made Prime 1 and 2 the amazing games they were. It's to the point where a lot of the people who had played Prime 3 had never played Prime 1 and 2 and had no interest in doing so, mostly since they came to realize it was such a different experience.
Here's the thing: when it comes to a series, especially a trilogy, only so much change is beneficial. Maybe trying a few new things or doing a few out-of-the-box experiments here and there. But to make it a totally different experience all-of-a-sudden, built for a totally different demographic of players is too much. Metroid Prime 3 should have resembled the first two Prime games, but for the most part, it didn't. To the crowd it was for, it was technically a decent game that deserved to do well, and its target demographic did like it. But its target demographic was sadly the one that would earn it more money opposed to the one that would have made it a truly great conclusion to the series.
But, that's how life works, I guess. Selling out makes money, and Retro needed that. So more power to them. Let's hope they continue making games as good as Prime 1 and 2 were.
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Product Release: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (US, 08/27/07)
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