Let’s get one thing out of the way: in my opinion the Metroid Prime series are some of the greatest First Person Shooters ever made. Flame me if you wish but before you switch off your computer in disgust I’d like to tell you a little more about the series and maybe you’ll consider giving it a go.
You see while Halo, KillZone and the like are all top notch if you want a no nonesense, balls out, hot lead to the face experience; Metroid Prime offers something more. Something a little deeper.
Although we’ve covered this Trilogy in passing here at GamerSyndrome, I felt that it should get a little more exposure especially as it’s going to come up against some heavy opposition in the FPS world with Halo 3:ODST incoming soon. Actually to describe Prime as an FPS is a little inaccurate (the actual ‘shooting’ can be a bit of a letdown but we’ll get to that), whilst it is viewed from a first person perspective and involves plenty of shooting these games would better be described as First Person Adventures.
Anyone who played any of the earlier, 2D Metroid games should be familiar with the general concept but for those who haven’t played them (and you really should) the central mechanic of each game is that you play as interplanetary bounty huntress Samus Aran and, at first, you only have limited access to the game world. Exploring and discovering power ups and add ons will gradually enable you to open up the map.
The Metroid games were unique in this regard and even went on to inspire games such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (and almost every subsequent Castlevania game) and, more recently, Shadow Complex.
Despite it’s success the Metroid series went on an extended hiatus, the last game to be released before Prime, Super Metroid, was released for the Super Nintendo in 1994 and fans would have to wait until 2002 for Metroid Prime.
Concerns were raised when it was announced that not only was Metroid Prime being developed by a third party developer (Retro Studios) but also that it was being made in full 3D.
The development process for the first Prime was particularly difficult, taking a 2D series into the third dimension whilst keeping it’s core intact is never easy and often fails spectacularly. The game would go through several iterations with even Shigeru Miyamoto himself stepping in to ensure things moved in the right direction.
When the game originally hit the shelves in 2002 it was obvious that the fans needn’t have worried.
Unlike most FPSs exploration is rewarded in Metroid Prime with extra skills such as double jump and heat proof armour stashed away in hard to find corners or given out after boss battles.
Those boss battles have always been a high point of the series and Prime doesn’t dissapoint. In one particularly memorable (and challenging) example you find yourself fighting a giant plant by repositioning a series of mirrors to deflect the sunlight away and weaken it enough for you to get in with conventional weapons.
This example also highlights the strength of the games puzzle element, whilst most conventional shooters would only see you going as far as collecting a coloured key or flipping the right switch. Prime has a whole host of head-scratchers, from altering water levels to using your power weapons to activate a derelict space craft. Prime requires a whole lot more from the player than the ability to blast away scores of enemies.
Although there is plenty of gunplay in Prime it’s an area where the game falls flat. Despite some astounding boss battles the rest of the combat is reduced to a sideline and is often a repetetive chore largely involving remembering which weapon kills which enemy.
Where the game really excels is atmosphere, which it has in spades. Traversing the decaying remnants of a long dead civilization is equally astonishing and terrifying as the urge to push deeper into the ruins is tempered by the apprehension of what dangers lurk within.
This new Wii version hightens these elements with retouched graphics and the Wiimote controls even manage to add an extra layer of immersion in the previously flat combat.
Of course the Wii trilogy also throws in the two sequels. Essentially these don’t vary too much from the original in terms of gameplay. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes adds a dark parallel universe to explore and a misjudged multiplayer mode. It’s also had a graphical touch up (as well as having it’s difficulty turned down a notch or to, this is no bad thing as it was originally punishingly difficult and easily the hardest of the the three).
The third game, Corruption, was an early Wii game and as such added Wii centric controls but with all three games now featuring this control system you won’t notice much difference if you’ve never played any of them before.
The fact that the sequels are so similar to the original is no bad thing as the old mantra of ‘if it aint broke, don’t fix it’ definitely applies to the Prime Trilogy.
If I had to make complaints about this new compilation it would have to be that the combat, although better than before, is still a little uninspired and that the HUD can appear stretched in widescreen mode. But that’s it. Seriously. This is a remarkably good package for a remarkably good price and if you have a Nintendo Wii then you owe it to yourself to check it out.
Article from Gamersyndrome.com