Metroid Prime: Hunters (DS) review
"This game has given me some much needed perspective on an aspect of life I’ve sadly deserted…my temper. Yes, while Metroid Prime: Hunters sports some of the most handsome graphics available on a handheld, finely tuned AI, impressive online features, and even bots to engage the lowlifes with no friends, it still manages to frustrate me to a maddening level with its controls from hell. After you pop this game in your DS (and you should, this is still a fine game), be warned now that within an ho..."
This game has given me some much needed perspective on an aspect of life I’ve sadly deserted…my temper. Yes, while Metroid Prime: Hunters sports some of the most handsome graphics available on a handheld, finely tuned AI, impressive online features, and even bots to engage the lowlifes with no friends, it still manages to frustrate me to a maddening level with its controls from hell. After you pop this game in your DS (and you should, this is still a fine game), be warned now that within an hour of playing it, your hands will turn into gnarled appendages of pain and horror. With that said, however, Metroid Prime: Hunters excels on a wide range of fronts and offers up some of the most frenetic, up-tempo thrills in this handheld generation.
A telepathic message has been broadcast to the best bounty hunters in the land, detailing a secret power, the ultimate power. As vague as this seems, it sends the bounty hunters into a frenzy as they embark, all at once, on a journey with visions of grandeur at the forefront of their minds; it’s an all out war.
After your plopped inside a massive enemy-ridden complex, action takes center stage and ceases to let you breathe throughout. You’ll encounter tight, sinuous corridors packed with metroids, perilous series of platforms that require some precise jumping and maneuvering to scale, and the expected battles against fellow bounty hunters.
As you progress, a plethora of weapons become accessible and really give the game some legs. Every gun has its own unique function and every one can also be charged for maximum damage and carnage. And while the duals against the bounty hunters serve as excitement on their own, actual boss battles are also present. However, the boss battles are one of the most underwhelming facets of the game. They are recycled over again with slight spins on the original product and a little added difficulty. Very lame.
But outside of bosses, there are many puzzle elements to the game. While not hard in concept, featuring the tried-and-true switch-flipping cliché, they still present a deal of brain activity to compliment the action. There are also the mandatory morph-ball segments that diversify the experience to a degree. At times, the camera will, in classic Prime fashion, shift to a two dimensional perspective and present some morph-ball platforming action. Using bombs inside the morph-ball, you can even tackle enemies in this way.
As the game unfolds, Samus’ scan visor becomes more and more useful as the environment is littered with objects that can be scanned. The visor gives you pertinent information about the surrounding area and helps you fully understand some of the foggier aspects of the story. Switches are also activated via the scanner.
But one cannot help but notice the astounding graphics Metroid Prime: Hunters touts. Details are in abundance, featuring some of the most subtle touches not thought possible on a handheld. The texturing holds a surprising amount of prowess and the particle effects are top notch. After you smoothly glide through the environment, jump off a well placed ledge, shoot an enemy midair and watch as it explodes into a lustrous show of graphical beauty, you can’t help but become thoroughly immersed in the whole ambience at hand. The graphics are actually done with such clarity and force that they’ll become the main reason you’re so highly entranced in the game.
Not to be outdone, audio presentation is done quite well. Metroid has its own distinct music and sounds and no other game can impersonate that. The question is whether the minuscule DS can effectively imitate the greatness of the sound on console versions: Hunters replicates the sound quite sufficiently. Although there are times when it seems a little compressed, all in all the Metroid vibe seeps through the duel speakers. When you can hear something as infinitesimal as Samus’ footsteps reverberating off the floor, you’ve got a pretty smooth audio performance.
And speaking of smooth, multiplayer is just that. Through Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, battles of up to four in matchmaking are presented and done quite seamlessly. And even though wireless matchmaking is quite cool on its own, having a full friend roster really opens a gateway to more fun. You can play a profusion of games, including a capture the flag-type variant, and my personal favorite, Nodes, a mode in which you fight over a segment on the map and control it. Also, to alleviate the frustration of no communication, voice chat is available before and after games, allowing you to set up the game properly and talk the proverbial smack.
However, what really diversifies the experience is the option to play as any of the six bounty hunters that you unlock through single player. Every different hunter has clearly unique abilities and alternate morph forms to broaden the experience and add some tactical expertise to common battles. Long after you’ve beaten the single player campaign, you’ll still undoubtedly come back for more multiplayer. Although it definitely has a learning curve, once you master the nuances of the touch screen control, its deep gameplay is very personally rewarding and fun…just make sure you give your hand a rest every once in a while, seriously.
On a grand scale, Metroid Prime Hunters delivers. It’s surprisingly deep single player and massive multiplayer girth lend it some finality and sense of completeness. It has content loaded to the brim and is really a benchmark for handheld gaming. Nintendo has done it again. Intense and enthralling, Hunters is quality gaming at its finest.
Community review by Linkamoto (March 26, 2006)
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