fishdalf's Metroid Prime (GameCube) review

Metroid Prime lets you look at the world through Samus' eyes.

The Phazon-rich planet of Tallon IV, once home to a sect of peaceful Chozo who have long since vanished. A race of space birds with philosophy on the brain. Long ago, the Chozo raised an orphaned human girl to be their savior. That girl is Samus Aran. Metroid Prime see's Samus delve into the world of first-person shooter land. Every other metroid game has taken place in two dimensions and sometimes when a game embarks into the 3D world it isn't always as succesful as we might hope. However this game does deliver and in impressive style.

You are placed inside the helmet of Samus, which will seem a little strange at first because of the restricted view you're limited to. After a while though you realise that this is a great concept and brings a new level of realism to the game, from the way your visor reflects the face of Samus to the way your visor steams up in the heat of battle really adds to the sense of atmosphere.

The control system for this game is rather strange, it doesn't operate like a standard first-person shooter with it's use of dual stick controls. Instead it uses a system rather reminiscent to Ocarina of Time in it's lock-on targeting system. It's seems a little confusing at first but once you have mastered it you will be cleverly dodging around enemies as you blast them to pieces with your strafing skills. This system is also a bonus when aiming at enemies from all angles as you lock onto them with speed and ease, flying enemies are a great example of this. It's this new kind of combat that makes this game quite revolutionry as you attack predators in a way you would never have thought possible. The bosses will see you using just about every technique you have on offer to defeat them, so the button mashing you see in so many games nowadays won't work. You will need the greatest of skill to defeat most of the deadly foes you encounter and should see you hitting that retry button quite often as the game progresses.

The main concept of any Metroid game has always been it's platforming aspect and it is here in abundance, you may be thinking a platformer that uses first-person view would be awkward and frustrating but somehow it works in a way no other game has managed. The game uses the platforming system to great effect, it isn't just jump from here to here, there is a huge element of exploration here. Great detail has gone into the planning of this game, an area you previously encountered may reveal a new area once an upgrade has been found. The balance between combat and exploration in this game works to perfection, one doesn't seem to outshine the other as it so easily could.

Metroid Prime follows the same formula as it's predecessors in it's use of powers and upgrades. The more upgrades you collect the further through the game you can proceed. Tallon IV is full of high ledges and obstacles blocking your path but as you explore further and further you will find that vital upgrade to access that next area. It sounds like a lot of back-tracking and in truth it is but it works really well. If you get stuck along the way your trusty map can point you in the right direction and there is even a hint system that gives tiny clues of what to do next. This can be turned off and on just incase you want to do it all by yourself.

There are so many weapons and gadgets in this game, each with it's own unique style and really varies the gameplay. There are a number of suits you can collect and with a simple flick on the C stick or D-Pad are easily accesible, each having it's own unique ability. One for example can withstand extreme temperatures and once obtained lets you explore previous areas you couldn't access without melting into a blob. Tranforming into a morph ball is also possible and helps you down narrow tunnels, a grappling hook can also be found in the game to help you across large chasms and such. There are 4 modes your gun can fire in, these are Power, Wave, Ice and Plasma. Each again has it's own unique ability and different modes you will find open different doors once blasted. It's not just doors though, it's your enemies too. Certain enemies and certain bosses may be weak to 1 of the 4 beams yet when shot with the others you will find it does absolutely nothing. Another upgrade and perhaps the most common will be the visors, again there are several, each with their own unique ability. Each one is vital to completing the game because it allows you to examine the enviroment in new ways. For example the Thermal visor helps you see in pure darkness while the X-Ray visor actually allows you to see through walls.

This game really feels like a Metroid game, many were sceptical that bringing this game into the 3D world would effectively ruin it's reputation but it has actully stunned the gaming world and brought Metroid back to where it belongs. The detail in this game is amazing with all the effects represented in stunning detail, from the haze created from blasting your gun at enemies to the reflections that mirror off your visor. The modelling of the enviroments is done to perfection to give you that sense of actually being on another planet. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this game is there isn't one single loading screen to get in the way of the action as each new enviroment is loaded in the few seconds it takes to open a door or to travel up an elevator. The sound detail is also impressive and keeps the same feel of all previous metroid games. Giving you that sense of unease and doubt of whether something creepy is waiting around the corner ready to pounce. Instead of drawn-out cut scenes, Metroid Prime employs participatory storytelling via the Scan Visor. By scanning various enemies and computers, you can read up on everything from Chozo and Pirate diary entries to records and descriptions of every enemy in the game. Even though there isn't much plot found within these diaries, the writing is done well and will keep the avid fans busy for quite some time.

Another feature this game has to offer is it's conenctivity to Metroid fusion for the GBA using the GBA link cable. This can unlock even more stuff on your game, including the original Metroid game in all it's glory. Plus it unlocks an extra suit for you to play through the game with called the Fusion Suit, it doesnt have any extra abilities but it does look cool. The one downside to this game however is it's lack of any multiplayer and any online features whatsoever. This damages the value of the game for obvious reasons, if you complete the game there's not really much else for you to do but to go and play through it again, luckily that isn't such a bad thing. If you're looking for the best single player experience available on a GameCube you need to get your hands on this game.
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