Metroid Prime (GameCube) review
Back on the NES, a game was released that had a female bounty hunter by the name of Samus Aran called Metroid. With its mixure of action/exploration with shooter/platforming elements and a difficulty that was challenging yet satisfying it became a classic. Two other sequeals were hatched, one for the Game Boy and the other on the SNES. Metroid 2 for the Game Boy continued with the story of Samus, while Super Metroid to this day is still regarded as one of the top 10 games of all time. Eight years later and a whole console (N64) skipped, Samus returns in Metroid Prime for the Gamecube. Can this Metroid live up to its namesake? Let's find out.
The past Metroids always had a great blend of action and exploration with elements of platforming and shooting. While the change in perspectives to the first-person doesn't hinder the elements, but make the action and exploration alot more interesting and adds a new element to the formula. There are many trademarks of Samus Aran that make their return like multiple suits,beam weapons,morphball,energy tanks,missles,etc. with the first person perspective, a new element will be added. Since you are seeing through Samus's eyes, you have multiple visors, with a few of them having to be found like most power ups.
Combat Visor: this is the visor that is normally used. It has gauges for health,number of missles availible,map,radar, and which visor and beam weapon is availible. Also features a lock-on reticule to lock on enemies for combat.
Scan Visor: this visor is also availible at the begining. When this visor is selected, a magnifying reticule will appear in the center of the visor. Anything that can be scanned, from creatures to computer teminals, will be picked out by the reticule. When an object has been scanned, vital information is given and some of that information will be stored in a log book.
Thermal Visor: the first visor that has to be located within the vast world. Once found, this visor can be used to track enemies heat signatures, in which can also tack a weak point of an enemy. This visor, of course, can be used for a night vison visor, it will also open up new puzzles as well.
X-Ray Visor: this is the second visor that needs to be located. Once in possesion, the ability to see hidden passages will open up. Also there will be a few enemies that will need to be located and tracked with this visors.
One more element that has to be mentioned is the morphball ability. When this ability is opened up, there will be a convergence of first-person to third-person. This conversion of the two is silky smooth, there are also puzzles that will show up in a 2D atmosphere that will give a more nostalgic feeling, which adds to the overall feeling of the game.
To start off, since this isn't a FPS, it doesn't control like one either. The control scheme is more like an adventure game or like a Metroid game. The A button is for shooting, hold it to charge your beam weapon. B button is to jump and when the space jump is availible press it again while in the air to get a double jump. Y button is for missles, X button is for the morphball, and Z button is for the map. The Left shoulder button is for lock-on and grapple beam while the Right shoulder button is for free look. The Control Stick is to move forward/backward and turn left/right. The D-pad is to select visors and the C-stick is to select beam weapons.
Morphball Mode: while in this mode A button is for bombs, B button is used for the boost ball, and the Y button is used for power bombs. The Right shoulder button is used for the spider ball.
The controls work well by keeping the importance of strategy and refelxes by taking away the importance of aiming. It might take some time, but it works very well on what was trying to be established.
The sound is totally exquisite and extremely atmosphereic. The exquisite is the sound effects. Everything has its own distinct sound like the growl of a space pirate, the footsteps of Samus, the screaching of a creature as its blasted, and the thud when Samus hits the ground from a huge fall, all sound like they would in the Metroid world and helps the feeling you are Samus. The music is extremely atmosphereic, done in MIDI form, so it can change on the fly without loosing flow depending on different situations. Some music peices are completely creepy giving an errie, alone feeling, while some peices are intesne as the situation its pretaining to. Nostalgic factor, when in the elevator rooms, the same music is played on the past Metroids. The overall sound is rolled up nicley in Dolby Pro Logic II. It's a nice treat for the ears.
The little things ya know?! The little things like rain drops hitting the visor, or condesation forms when in a hot or moist area. The little things like steam pockets spouting from walls, the worlds wildlife is all over the place in constant motion. These little things will add up to that giant plant monster looking like a giant plant monster scaring the bejezus out of you. The attetion to detail is stellar, its eviromental design is what sets the tone. The world is totaly immersive, like stated earlier all its inhabitants are in constant motion, while some of the areas are really huge. The huge areas add a feeling of freedom, while some of the tight corridors give off a feeling of claustorphobia. The only nickpicks are that Samus's suit is quite pixalated and noticeable and some textures are rather boring, other than that, the overall presentation is jaw-dropping. This can't be missed.
The story timeline for Prime is set between the events of Metroid and Metroid II. After the evnents of Metroid, Samus recieves a distress signal from a space station around the planet Tallon IV. Once through the space station events, takes Samus to the planet itself. The rest of the story is implemented with the use of the scan visor and reading Lore and data around the planet, learning the history of Samus and what is the motives of the space pirates on Tallon IV. This is used well and puts the emphasis on exploration and using the different visors throughout.
The past Metroids had replay depending on times, meaning how fast can you beat it. The faster you beat it meant a better ending that could be unlocked. In Prime those are there to strive for, yet the way to get them are different than the past. Depending on your percentage of items picked up will determine the ending you get. Scanning also counts towards galleries to open. Beating the game once with any percentage will open up a harder difficulty, while beating the game with 100% of items and 100% scans on both difficulties will open up the other galleries. And those who have a Game Boy Advance, a GC/GBA link cable, and Metroid Fusion can unlock the first Metroid from the NES or unlock the fusion suit. If everything is unlocked another playthrough is worthy enough, eventhough it's to stare in awe of the games polish.
First off, Metroid Prime is buggy, this is a warning. Majority will freeze upon the first elevator, while the minority might freeze up during and elevator or action sequence later in the game. This bug however doesn't detract from the game. Not only do the Metroids standards remain in Prime, with a new perspective adds a new immersion level that is way above the past Metroids. Does this game live up to its namesake? In one word, YES!!! This is Metroid in 3D and it's welcomed.
Community review by raziel (December 09, 2002)
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