Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii) Review

We're in the middle of the week, and here's another great-scoring game as the parade of the highest-scoring games continues leading up to review 100.


The femme fatale returns for one high-impact finale.

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The original Metroid Prime released onto the Nintendo Gamecube in the fall of 2002. With it, it brought skeptics to their knees in defeat as they played the masterpiece concocted by Texas-based Retro Studios. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes came out two years later and while not as engrossing and captivating as the original Prime, it was still quite a competent game. Metroid Prime proved that Metroid could work in the third-dimension, and now six years later, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption proves that first-person shooter controls can work and function well on the Nintendo Wii.

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This epic game begins within the confines of Samus' cockpit.

The game begins with zero suit Samus (Oh my God, SPOILER: Samus is a woman!) rests in a cryogenic state aboard her trusted gunship as it floats in the emptiness of space. You're immediately given control of Samus inside the cockpit where you are able to interact with the controls with the aim to input the correct access code to dock on the Galactic Federation's home ship, the G.F.S. Olympus. You're given little room to explore on this tutorial mission, but it's all for the best so the player is able to become accustomed to the controls. After passing through a security checkpoint, you're able to later to enter the briefing room where Admiral Dane awaits you. He's a typical experienced veteran very reminiscent of the corporal from Halo. Space Pirates have successful implanted viruses in a variety of the Federation's Aurora Unit's-- think supercomputers. Before the briefing can conclude, an attack on the G.F.S. Olympus is made, and it's up to Samus Aran and the three other bounty hunters aboard the ship, the armor-clad Ghor, the ice-boarding Rundas, and the shape-shifting Gandrayda to stop the Space Pirate onslaught. Samus must now get back to her ship but before she can do that she (as in you) must venture through the under siege Olympus, taking out Space Pirate thugs and protecting various Galactic Federation (G.F.) soldiers.

The main query many gamers had with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was whether or not the controls would lend to themselves well enough to the gameplay. I can confidently say they are amazing. It'll be hard to go back to dual-analog controls after playing an hour of Metroid Prime 3. The control option of Advanced Mode is recommended as it offers the highest sensitivity, and puts all the other options to shame. Unlike Red Steel whose bounding box (the area at which the game picks up the Wii remote in order to turn) took up the entire screen, MP3's bounding box is smaller allowing fast maneuvers and aiming. Aiming is quick and responsive, and aiming the remote towards an edge of the bounding box allows Samus to turn around to take a glimpse of her surroundings. B allows Samus to jump, and unlike previous Prime's Samus has almost all of her normal abilities save for a few. Samus can use the double jump immediately. The C button on the nunchuk enables the feminine bounty hunter to enter the always handy morph ball mode. By holding the minus button down and pointing the Wii remote at a sector of the screen enables Samus to equip one of three visors (two of which need to be found). Finally, the directional pad is used to unleash missiles onto various locks and unfortunate foes.

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Lock-on, and let loose on your foes!

The finale of the G.F.S. Olympus concludes with an epic boss battle with an impressive Berserker Lord. He chucks a G.F. soldier through a command center window and to the floor below. Many of the boss battles and even enemies require certain strategies in defeating them. The scan visor works well in assisting players on the various weak spots of bosses and baddies alike. One boss will have you shooting at its joints, then while it's huddled to the floor you use the nunchuk to toss a grapple onto his chest, pulling the armor of its protected chest, and then firing away at its exposed weak point. The boss battles are numerous, and most of them are all expertly crafted. A fantastic highlight of the first two hours of gameplay is on planet Norion where you're in a free-fall fight facing off against the diabolical leader of the Space Pirates, Meta-Ridley. Samus must avoid Ridley's attacks while trying to take down her foe before she crashes like a broken egg to the ground several meters below.

The first hours of Metroid Prime 3 feel very much like Halo. However, as you touch down for the first time on planet Bryyo, you realize that this IS first and foremost a Metroid game. Exploration is key, and sure, you'll be intercepted by bosses and Space Pirate battles, but there's a profusion of hidden passages to discover, pickups (100 of them) from missile expansions to energy tanks to gather, and new armor upgrades to equip Samus with. Favorites return like the spider ball and grapple beam which allows Samus not only to swing across certain chasms but also pull the shields directly out of the hands of her enemies. Like Super Metroid, all of the beams and missile power-ups stack on one another, so there's no need to switch between enhancements like in past Metroid games.

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Samus' all-new P.E.D. suit.

After Norion, Samus will find herself equipped an entirely new suit-- the P.E.D. (Phazon Enhancement Device) which will allow her to sacrifice the energy in one of her energy tanks and enter Hyper Mode. This increases her reflexes and heightens her shots with deadly Phazon energy. Use the mode too long, and Samus will become corrupted. Stay corrupted enough to let your meter fill, and it's game over for you and Ms. Aran. The game can become quite easy if the player continually spams Hyper Mode to take out foes, but thankfully Retro has included two other difficulty levels in the form of Veteran (for seasoned Metroid adventurers) and the deadly Hyper difficulty.

Not one to wish to stay out of the spotlight for yet another Metroid title, Samus' gunship plays a more vital role in this sequel. Samus can dock it at one of the various locations on the five main areas of the game. She can also use it to lift heavy objects in one area, and place them in another to unblock her path. Ship missile expansions can be used when in the ship command visor to lock onto an enemy and unleash a flurry of missiles from the gunship itself. Very cool addition, though I never found a real reason to do so.

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The enemies are masterfully designed...

The atmosphere of the Metroid games continues to astound me. It's honestly all in the immersive details from scanning the foliage of Bryyo to learn if it prefers light or dark to discovering why those gears on Elysia stopped functioning. Even the graphical details are something to marvel at, and my hat's off to Retro Studios for creating yet another living, breathing universe to explore. The music is top-notch and provides subtle ambiance when you're journeying through an ancient sky world to the wonderful music of fighting alongside G.F. soldiers. Did I mention that the voice acting (yes, there IS voice acting) is expertly and professionally done? This game's atmosphere had me at hello.

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...As are the gorgeous environments.

Additionally, something gamers may also notice are these colorful icons which pop up when a new creature or lore is scanned or a boss is defeated. These can be used to purchase items in the Extras menu such as tracks from the game's atmospheric soundtrack, concept art, and even a screenshot tool which you can use to send photos of the game to people on your Wii friends list. You can also send friend vouchers to those on your Wii list to give them tokens otherwise unavailable to them.

My first playthrough on the normal setting clocked in at about fourteen hours with all pickups attained. Then there's the Veteran and Hyper Mode difficulties to play through as well as purchasing everything in the Extras menu. There isn't any form of multiplayer, but by the same token Metroid was never intended to be a multiplayer experience. Metroid Prime Hunters could have been a new IP with guns for instance, but Metroid-- a fan favorite-- was chosen instead. The lack of multiplayer (even though it was abysmal in Echoes) may disappoint some fans unfortunately, but I was abundantly pleased that it wasn't there all the same.

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Grab on, and hold on tight!

Metroid Prime is a series that continues to innovate. Though the trilogy has come to a satisfying conclusion, the games will continue to inspire a legacy of gamers both young and old, new and experienced. Metroid Prime proved that Metroid can work in 3-D, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes proved that maybe dark and light worlds aren't good for EVERY Nintendo franchise, and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has now proven that FPS-styled games can and do work (wonderfully) on the Wii. The graphics are beautiful and atmospheric, the music and sound design are fantastic, the story is tied up well, and there's enough gameplay to keep any gamer satisfied. Metroid Prime 3 is THE reason to purchase a Wii if you haven't done so already. A great game for a system of mostly lackluster releases.

Overall: 9.5/10

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