Nothing too spectacular
While the latest Metroid offering is a good solid game, you should take care not to approach it thinking you are getting into a traditional FPS. This was the mistake I made. It's been well over a decade since I have even touched a Metroid game, so I guess my expectations were just a little bit off.
I was led to believe that this installment was going to simply be a first person shooter, and while from a technical standpoint this may be so, the game plays out a lot more like an adventure game than a typical shooter.
Technically speaking, Corruption is very well done. Controlling our hero, Samus, is quite easy, with only a few exceptions. The audio and visuals are also some of the best on the Wii to date. There are also small touches, which contribute to the attention to the overall to detail. You may not consciously notice them all, but there are many fine touches which create an overall subversive experience. For example, at the top of the screen, there are four lights inside your visor which indicate your Wii remotes battery life, and when you switch into the scanning visor you can see the reflection of your own eyes in the glass of the visor. Even your health meter is three-dimensionally stationed inside your visor, so when you look to the right or left you can notice the health meter distorting ever so slightly. These are just a few, of the many, fine touches the developers took in creating a highly polished presentation.
The control scheme resembles a slightly modified and refined system you may be familiar with if you have ever played Red Steel, which I feel works very well. You use the required nunchuck to move around, and aim the Wii remote at the screen to target what you want to shoot and where you want to move. Aiming to the left, right, top or bottom of the screen rotates the camera in that direction. The overall control system feels very intuitive, although there were a few "problems" I felt should have been addressed. First of all, when you are in the morph ball form, it is not possible to rotate the camera, which makes dodging incoming attacks virtually impossible. I also encountered one or two specific areas in the game in which maneuvering around on the mag rails was difficult if you were going throw a spiral - initially pressing the directional analog stick in one direction would have you going one way, and then it would suddenly have you going in the opposite way, often leading you into hazards that would knock you clear off the railing. But the issues with the control scheme are few and far between and enough to forgive since the overall setup works very well.
Graphically, the game is a wonder for the Wii. While, no where near as detailed and intricate as similar games on the other next-gen consoles, Corruption does a great deal in pushing the highly limited power of the Wii to it's limits while still running very smoothly. Even better, the frame rate never dipped even a single time throughout the entire game for me, which is something most modern games cannot boast. While many of the environments consist of the run of the mill industrial type settings you see in most futuristic shooters, there were a few environments in the game that had excellent style and design. While I cannot recall ever encountering water in the game, there are several pools of orange gel, with water-like properties, that look absolutely amazing. The three-dimensional mass of these liquids is superior to even many of the best looking 3D water you may have encountered in other games as it moves quite realistically in relativity to your own movements inside it. With so much done right visually, one can forgive the few, yet noticeable faults. Some areas lack the level of detail one might expect in a contemporary game of this type, and many of the space textures (while using your gunship) are sloppy and simply don't match up or repeat properly at all - this becomes ever more apparent as the level of your TV's brightness is increased, and it leaves space looking really shoddy. Fortunately, the visual weaknesses of Corruption are limited and the game's overall look is quite superb if compared to other titles currently available on the Wii.
While not necessary as strong as the sights in Corruption, the sounds are not without merit. Many of the songs of the sound track are quite moody, while others server more as ambiance. Whatever the case, the music you are hearing always seems to fit the location you are in perfectly. Unfortunately, the voice-overs are nothing special, but at least they are not horrible or distracting. The sound effects are also merely average without anything that really stands out. Without a doubt, the music is the high point of what goes into your ears when playing the latest Metroid offering.
Sadly, there are a number of debatable issues one might question with Corruption. One of the most annoying is the lengthy load times between opening nearly 50% of the doors throughout the game. While many doors open nearly instantly upon shooting it, there are a large number of doors that take at least five seconds and in many cases up to ten seconds. This can make exploration stressing if you are in a hurry or are trying to leave a room in which there are still enemies. It's obvious that the game must be loading at these points, but it makes no mention of this, so in many cases you are left to wonder if don't have the necessary suit upgrades to enter the room or if the game just decided it doesn't want to let you in. It wouldn't be so bad, if it wasn't so frequent, but it is a really common occurrence and interrupts the game play experience.
One of the most irritating feelings I experienced in playing the game was the obscene amount of backtracking that is necessary to progress. I guess one could argue that it is simply a matter of taste, or that this is the result of my expecting a traditional shooter, but in any case, you will spend most of the time playing the game in areas you have already been in earlier. This left me feeling that the game was more of an adventure game than a shooter. Actually, many times Corruption feels rather schizophrenic - some parts have too much of an emphasis on experimenting in your surroundings and backtracking, while other parts are total action-packed phases of shooting up the bad guys. Even when taking the whole Metroid formula into account, it still feels as though there is a mis-balance between the number of action elements with the number of adventure elements. For a shooter, there is far too much backtracking and dependence on power-ups to progress. And yet, for an adventure game, navigating through the galaxy is too cheesy and simplified, and disposing of your opponents requires hammering down the fire button way too much. When playing many futuristic shooters, I am left to wonder if weapons in the future are no more powerful than soft-air guns, because it always seems that killing an enemy requires a ridiculous number of shots. Just is the case here with Metroid, as after a while your finger is likely to get sore from hitting fire so often. And you can't just hold down the fire key either, since doing so charges a shot. This brings me to another poorly thought out choice development took in regard to charging shots.
For some reason, firing a round from your cannon, or even a rocket, occurs as the key is pressed down, not as it is released. This means that every time you want to charge a shot, you shoot once first prior to charging up. While this makes no difference in terms of your cannon, since you have unlimited ammo, this isn't the case with your rockets. There are many doors that need to be opened with a certain number of rockets launched simultaneously. This means that you waste one rocket just to charge up the number you intend to shoot, so for each door that needs five rockets you need to have six on hand instead. While, not a very serious problem at all, I am left to wonder why the developers didn't simply program the launch of the projectile upon releasing the key as opposed to simply pressing it.
The baddies of Corruption are not only challenging, but sadly even frustrating sometimes. Using your "scan" ability to find out information about how to dispose of the foes is usually quite helpful, but in some cases it doesn't really provide you with what you need to know. Fortunately, if you just try to remember that Corruption follows the same basic theme that games have been following for ages, you will be alright. That is: every boss has one or more weak points - focus on those and those alone or all you attempts at destroying it will be in vain. Since the battles are often quite intense, you will get a nice satisfactory feeling when you do prevail.
Metroid Prime 3, is by no means perfect, but is definitely a memorable experience. It's tried and tested formula holds up very strong, even decades later. While it does have a small list of problems and concerns that should have been addressed, they are all relatively minor ones that you will likely be easy to forgive. If you go into the latest Metroid game expecting a basic shooter, be in for a surprise, because it is much more than that, for better and for worse.
Overall Score: 7.8
Gameplay: (9) Variation of action and exploration, with some Zelda-like puzzle solving to boot. Unfortunately, you are forced to backtrack way too much.
Graphics: (8) Great environments and little touches to the presentation create a lovely looking Wii title.
Sound: (7) Some moody tunes keep you in the game, but otherwise, many of the sounds are just generic.
Lasting Appeal: (7) Quite a lengthy adventure, although most of it is spent going to areas you've already been numerous times. Not as many hard to discover secrets as you'd expect, but fortunately, multiple endings.