Prime Gets Better
The Metroid series is one of the most unsurpassed video game series of all time. Every installment in the series has been great, most notably the 3D adventure Metroid Prime for Gamecube. You would think that to take one of the best 2D side-scrollers of all-time and convert it into 3D would be quite a feat. Well, the studio down in Texas accomplished it. Retro Studios made a first-person shooter that mixed with the mechanics of an adventure game; it had puzzles and a fine dialogue while still being true to the Metroid series.
Metroid Prime 2 Echoes takes part right after Metroid Prime. Samus has to investigate the planet Aether where a squadron of human Marines crash-landed. Aran had to investigate because the Federation lost contact with the Marines once they hit the planet's surface. Once Samus crash-lands on Aether she finds out that a species called the Ing killed what remained of the Marines. The Ing are creatures composed of a dark-gooey substance. They know no mercy, all they try to do is collide with their enemy and make them dark too. Ever since the Ing appeared on Aether the planet split and created a parallel planet. Very similar to Light Aether, Dark Aether is where the Ing roam since they hate the light. What Samus is attempting to do is help a race called the Luminoth. The Luminoth are the original inhabitants of Aether, they lived there long before the Ing infiltrated.
With the story explained you get a good idea of how the gameplay is composed. Metroid Prime 2 Echoes is somewhat similar to Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, Samus teleports from Light to Dark world, back and forth. It sounds redundant but turns out to work very well. Once you get Samus to the Dark world you obviously won't get too far into the planet, because some doors won't open or a certain passage can't be opened yet. Sure, this part of gameplay is relatively old; yet, I do not seem to get tired of it. There's more puzzle-involved gameplay in Metroid Prime 2 Echoes than the predecessor. But do not fret; the action is still there.
The one thing that makes Metroid an awesome adventure game is the level design. It blends with the puzzles and abilities Samus grasps. Just when you thought there wasn't anything else to be found in a room, a simple missile cracks open a whole in the floor bearing a Missile Upgrade. What comes with high-quality, complex level design comes decipherable maps. Pressing the Z button brings up one of the easiest and coolest looking map layouts ever.
The controls are the same, however to me,it does flow more freely in this game. Therefore, it's user-friendlier; this also includes movement of Samus, not to mention the enemies, etc. As for some fresh upgrades, the menu has a "free spin" method of selecting sub-menus. It is a perfect fit for the "techy" theme, though it does take a minute to get use to. Scanning has also been upgraded. Scans are much easier to see (though you still have to explore thoroughly) as it comes in one of three color-codes, red, blue, and green. Figure out what each mean; so you know what to mainly concentrate on. With all the puzzles, objectives, and an actually good storyline to follow, you will be well entertained.
Echoes, like its predecessor, boasts Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, which is as good as it gets on the Gamecube. Hearing Space Pirates growl behind you while you play the game, and shots coming from your left and right, is always a treat, no matter where or what you are doing. Echoes' music has songs from previous Metroid games along with new tracks, providing the perfect sentiment for the area you're in, yet never gets old. Echoes soundtrack does not dishearten, and the only gripe I have is that there is no Sound Test option in the Main Menu. To my knowledge, as of writing this, it kind of sucks if you want to listen to a track from the game without having to relive the experience just to hear it.
You thought I forgot the multiplayer? Well no, I did not. Its great Retro Studios took the time to include multiplayer, but frankly, it's just not very well done. There aren't enough modes, the controls lend itself well to crazy fragging and the fact that the Gamecube is not online means you can only play it split-screen. If you're looking for a serious multiplayer shooter, you might want to look elsewhere.
The game's art direction is a great reflection of the drama innate in this new, darker world. Cut scenes show Samus discovering strange new things, or raise new questions totally. While using the morph ball to penetrate a Space Pirate base, you can observe the Pirates running into a portal; when encountering a Dark Aether Cliffside infested with Dark Metroids, you'll see them carry off hapless victims. Encounters with Dark Samus are the best by far. Every time the two Hunters meet each other, it's like the rest of the world stops. Their stances go rigid when their sights meet. Both Samuses raise their arm cannons in chorus. When you think you've dispatched Dark Samus, you'll backtrack through a corridor and notice that some phazon containers are now missing. In this respect, though the Pirates are put aside early on, the story of the struggle with Dark Samus continues to develop.
Retro Studios has only developed two games: Metroid Prime and its sequel (as well as Metroid Prime 3 on Wii). That's right. Retro did have a few impedes and failures, but their brilliance is their art designs and storytelling. If you happened to see the renders for the Prime series enemies and characters, you will see what I am talking about. These are very talented men and women working. Nintendo went to Retro to delegate them with their beloved Metroid franchise. They hoped for a good game, and they got an instant-hit.By playing Prime and hearing that Echoes will evolve on Prime in every way, you think it's impossible, no? Well, you're wrong. They said that, and they delivered. Echoes evolved on Prime in the graphics, the effects, the lighting, the HUD, the game play, the puzzles, everything. Retro showed that you do not need former success to rise above the crowd. In a nutshell, Retro did what needed to be done and won.