The Girl With the Golden Touch
Metroid is a legendary franchise and one that has created many imitators. However, few have ever reached the levels of greatness that Metroid as a series has obtained. While many Metroid fans find the greatest height of the franchise being the Super Nintendo's excellent Super Metroid, others find the first fully 3D Metroid game, Metroid Prime, as the best Samus Aran has to offer. This reviewer sides with the latter argument. Metroid Prime isn't just the best Samus Aran has to offer, it's simply one of the best games in modern gaming history.
Metroid Prime begins with Samus Aran investigating a Space Pirate frigate in the quiet of space. The crew had been decimated by the experiments being manufactured on board. Inside the ship she uncovers a grotesque Parasite Queen, one such experiment gone awry. After defeating it, she comes across a genetically altered version of her nemesis, Ridley, who quickly retreats and heads for the nearby planet of Tallon IV. As Samus retreats from the then-self-destructing frigate, she makes chase in her Gunship of the new Meta Ridley creature. Little does Samus know that there's more to Tallon IV than meets the eye.
|Samus is on the scene.|
The world is incredibly well put together. Tallon IV is a living, breathing world full of things to see, do, and discover. You really feel like you are on a mysterious planet-- a bold new world. Tallon IV is split up between multiple areas: you have the Tallon Overworld; the footprint of the Chozo tribe, the Chozo Ruins; the underworld of Tallon IV where molten magma and blazing beasts call their home, the Magmoor Caverns; the eerily tranquil and icy areas of the Phendrana Drifts; and the radioactive quarries of the Phazon Mines. Each area is connected by elevator from one area to another, and each area has multiple elevators. With all of these areas you might think that getting lost is easy. Thankfully, it's not too terribly bad, despite the addition of a new dimension. Metroid Prime has its own fully rotatable map with every room and hallway having its own name. Uncovering map stations allows you to reveal the lay of the land. Rooms in blue are not yet entered while orange rooms are. Meanwhile, save stations allow you to obviously save your game, and are routinely placed in convenient locations around Tallon IV.
Tallon Overworld is the main hub
of Metroid Prime.
|I'm getting cold just looking at this screen!|
A big part of discovering the back story to Metroid Prime is done through the Scan Visor, which allows Samus to scan objects, items, and enemies. Nearly everything in the game can be scanned. These scanned items go into Samus's log book where players can read up on the history of Tallon IV, the Chozo, various enemies, Space Pirate data entries, and much more at any time. Players can honestly go through the game without knowing much of anything regarding what is happening if they don't bother to read the various scan information around Tallon IV.
Discovery is indeed an important part of the Metroid franchise, and it is remarkably well done in Metroid Prime. As new upgrades are acquired, new areas are able to be entered, opening up new sights and sounds for Samus to see and hear. Hidden in the game are an immense amount of helpful expansions. These increase the amount of missiles, power bombs, and health Samus can hold. In order to obtain that often heralded 100% completion percentage, not only do all of the expansions need to be found and received, but all of the pages in Samus's log book must be filled through scanning the necessary objects and enemies.
Perhaps something that will turn off some players is the copious amounts of returning to previously explored areas. You will be backtracking a lot in Metroid Prime, and while that is an accepted part of the genre, some players may get tired of trekking through old haunts just to reach one new room. That said, Metroid Prime limits needless backtracking to a great degree, and it's one of the better examples of the genre archetype to be had. One other issue that relates to backtracking is a quest that needs to be done at the end of the game. That is, twelve Chozo Artifacts must be found before you can reach the final area of the game. Their locations are given in cryptic hints, and they require returning to past areas to find them. Again, this is something that might drain the enthusiasm of some players.
Tallon IV's so dangerous that even the
plants are trying to kill you.
|Stop, rock, and roll.|
|Show this baddie who's boss.|
|The Arnold Schwarzenegger of Space Pirates.|
[SPC Says: 9.75/10]