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Metroid Prime: Hunters (DS) artwork

Metroid Prime: Hunters (DS) review

"I get a call in the morning. Metroid Prime: Hunters is in stock. Well, that doesn't seem right - a whole day early? Deciding not to curse my good fortune, I set out to pick up the game and see what all the fuss is about. I was rather put off by the fact that I managed to blow through the entire game in a mere four hours, but the game was quickly redeemed in my eyes once I logged onto the Wi-Fi deathmatches for the first time. Though the wait was long (since few people had the game at this point)..."

I get a call in the morning. Metroid Prime: Hunters is in stock. Well, that doesn't seem right - a whole day early? Deciding not to curse my good fortune, I set out to pick up the game and see what all the fuss is about. I was rather put off by the fact that I managed to blow through the entire game in a mere four hours, but the game was quickly redeemed in my eyes once I logged onto the Wi-Fi deathmatches for the first time. Though the wait was long (since few people had the game at this point), once the games started then I instantly knew that Hunters is destined to be a turning point in hand-held gaming.

The main game itself, aptly titled 'Adventure Mode' puts the player in the role of Samus. A call has been put forth throughout the galaxy, spreading across communcation spectrums from radio to computer to psychic callings. 'The Secret to the Ultimate Power lies in the Alimbic System.' Samus Aran, long the hero of the Galactic Federation for her role against the Space Pirates and the Metroids, is immediately contacted. Her goal: to discover the secret of the Alimbic race and find their ultimate power before anyone else does.

Samus is not alone in her quest, however. In the planets of the Alimbic System, Samus is confronted by numerous rival Bounty Hunters who are also seeking the Ultimate Power. The six rival bounty hunters appear at prefixed points throughout the game (and later on they appear randomly to attack Samus, similar to how Nemesis functioned in Resident Evil 3). Each hunter also has their own unique 'Alt Form' (the new name for Samus' trademark Morph Ball), and a weapon he specializes in (called an Affinity Weapon). These strengths don't play much of a role in Adventure mode, but they do in Multiplayer mode. But I'll get to that in a while.

Throughout the four planets in the Alymbis System are hidden eight different 'Octoliths.' Once all eight Octoliths are obtained, then Samus can enter the game's final area and take on the final boss, in typical Metroid fashion. However, there is a twist - your rival Hunters have the ability to steal your Octoliths from you, and they must be tracked down and the Octolith reclaimed to ensure Samus stays in control of the Ultimate Power.

Players who are familiar with Metroid Prime and its sequel should blow through the main adventure in relativity short time, and even those new to the Prime series shouldn't have too much difficulty. No matter how you look at it, the game just isn't that long (the entire walkthrough in Nintendo Power's strategy guide is a scant 45 pages). But as I have already said, the redeeming feature, and indeed the true meat of the game, is in multiplayer mode.

First, the good news. Players are able to play multiplayer offline to their hearts content, since the developers had the good foresight to include Bots. These Bots are predictably not terribly challenging, but you get the right idea. I must admit I was very impressed by the number of maps included in the game. In my typical pessimistic attitude, I gloomily estimated the game would have only five or six maps to play on (mostly because Echoes had this disappointing number). At the very least, 10 maps total. Much to my surprise, there are twenty five maps total, and they vary in size from small maps to frickin' huge ones.

The different modes available to play are typical FPS fair: a straight deathmatch, a survival mode, and capture the flag (uh... Octolith) modes. Also available are Prime Hunter (basically, tag with guns), Defender (King of the Hill), Nodes (Capture the Flag on steroids) and Bounty (a simplified Capture the Flag premise).

I loathe to write these words, but the developers of Hunters dug themselves a hole when they made the different Hunters in the game. The seven total all have different strengths and weaknesses. Samus is statistically even compared to all other characters, and is also the only one who can perform the Boost ability in her Alt Form. She is also the only character to get Homing Missiles. Kanden is a big bruiser with a giant electric gun which can stun people. The freaking awesome Spire can shoot flames, is immune to Fire, and best of all - in his Alt Form he gets the ability to climb walls. The Spider Ball returns! Spire's counterpart, Noxus, can freeze enemies solid and can attack opponents with sharp blades in his Alt Form. Then there's Sylux, who is basically Samus with more sophisticated attacks.

And now we get to the last two: Weavel and Trace. Weavel is a former space pirate who Samus made the mistake of leaving alive. His brain was implanted into a cybernetic powersuit, and in his Alt Form his body splits in half. The lower half becomes an autoturret, while the other half can continue wandering the battlefield wreaking havoc. And last and worst is Trace. Counter-strike has proven one thing: this gaming world has an obsession with snipers. And Trace is just about the best Sniper you can wish for. While Trace is holding the Imperialist (Hunter's sniper rifle) and standing still - he becomes invisible. Yes, you read that correctly. An invisible sniper. Luckily, the other Hunters are well balanced enough that Trace's invisibilty isn't that big of an advantage. Unfortunately, even now I can log onto Wi-Fi and most of the games I join will be nothing but Sylux and Weavel, with the ocassional Trace thrown in. This obsession with only a small number of Hunters could very well be the game's downfall.

The graphics of the game are extremely gritty, and there is some slowdown in places. However, it's rarely possible to get so disoriented to the point where you can no longer identify your surroundings. The one complaint I have with the graphics is that at times they can become so pixelated, particularly when you move close to walls in large areas, that the screen looks like its had mud smeared on it. This is just the console fanboy in me crying out in pain, but even still... it's worth mentioning.

Most people out there who have a DS have already played the First Hunt demo that was included with the DS, so they should be familiar with the rather odd controls. Aiming is controlled with the stylus on the touch screen (which also doubles as a radar, as well as how you change weapons and to Alt Form), while the D Pad moves the character and L fires. Moving with the touch screen was a good idea, however in the heat of battle it can become easy to accidentally change into Alt Form or over to the Scan Visor without meaning to. This proves inconvenient at best, deadly at worst, but can be overcome with practice.

Gameplay: 9 out of 10
Story: 4 out of 5
Controls: 7 out of 10
Graphics: 5 out of 5
Sound and Music: 4 out of 5
Extras: 4 out of 5
Game Length, Difficulty and Replay Value: 10 out of 10
Overall Score: 8.6 out of 10

The Good: Hunters at least proves one thing: an FPS is viable on a handheld system. This is a good solid game no matter how you look at it, and could indeed be the launching point for other mainstream FPS games to break into the handheld market. Only time will tell.
The Bad: Unless you have access to Wi-Fi, the game may grow boring quickly. The Adventure is short and rather easy, and even finding all of the upgrades and scans isn't that difficult. The limited intelligence of the CPU Bots makes playing Deathmatches solo a trivial exercise at best.
The Ugly: The online Hunters aren't very well balanced (say what you want about skill and strategy, Sylux is overpowered in the hands of even the most novice players).

mrshotgun's avatar
Community review by mrshotgun (March 15, 2007)

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