There have been many great first person shooter games throughout time, but one particular generation, involving the Xbox, Gamecube, and Playstation 2, has had some of the greatest this world has ever seen. You may or may not remember a particular game called Halo which came around mid-November in 2001. Dubbed one of the greatest shooters of all time. One year later, Metroid Prime was released by Nintendo and Retro Studios. Without going into technicalities, it’s safe to say Metroid Prime is Nintendo’s Halo.
The Metroid series if you don’t already know revolves around a female Bounty Hunter named Samus Aran. But she’s not your average female Bounty Hunter. She’s got a nifty little thing called her Power Suit. A gold and red, shiny, cyborg like outfit that surrounds her entire body. Also, in a Megaman like fashion, she has cannon like thing where her right hand should be. Anyhow in this particular encounter, Samus receives a distress signal from a planet called Tallon IV, which once was inhabited by the Chozo. An inhuman like species, who also created Samus’ power suit. Samus goes to the planet to explore what may or may not be happening…and then it’s all on you. Your first and only objectives…explore.
Of course exploring is limited at the beginning, only because your Power Suit isn’t tricked out…yet. Samus’ Power Suit is much more capable then being shiny and looking cool. It also has the ability to maintain 5 different weapon types, 12 different power shots, 4 different visors, and morph ball capabilities. Samus’s main weapon is just the power beam. It’s your average beam that shoots tiny little circular energy balls. Then there are missiles, a more powerful, though limited, alternative. Samus will also gain access to the Wave Beam, an electric type beam which can stun enemies, an Ice Beam that can freeze enemies, and a Plasma Beam which can burn enemies to a crisp. All of these weapons will be able to charge up and will be able to be combined with missiles for some very cool attacks. Another cool feature of the Power Suit is its visors. These are different types of HUD’s that are used for different things. Your most used one is your battle visor. Basically your standard screen for shooting things. Then there’s your scan visor, which is used to scan certain things like enemies and computers to activate and deactivate things, as well as get information for research logs (these logs all add up to boost your completion percentage). You’ll start with these two visors, but will gain 2 more that really change the games feel, and look for that matter.
One other important Power Suit is the Morph Ball function. It turns Samus into a very much smaller little ball. Though it doesn’t sound like much, the morph ball is capable of much more than just rolling into tiny crevices and slots. There are numerous upgrades for the morph ball, though your most basic is the morph ball bomb. A simpler, tinier, blue ball is dispersed and a small explosion follows. Simple, but there’s much more to it then just dropping them. The bombs can help damage your enemies, and can also make you (in morph ball mode) jump. And with precise timing, you can even pull off a double jump.
Those are the 3 main functions of the power suit, but there’s much more to that Chozoic technology then the eye meets. And by that I mean you’ll be finding a few more goodies that will help you on your way to victory. However, sometimes you have to ask yourself something. “Well gee whiz, with all these nifty little features, wont the controls be horribly, horribly awkward, clunky, and uncomfortable?” Well the answer is simply, no! Even with all these functions, everything plays smooth and comfortable. For example, tap A, and you’ll shoot a healthy stream of fire. Hold A, and you’ll charge your shot. At the touch of a button, you’re shooting a missile, transforming into morph ball mode, dropping a bomb, changing visors, or weapon types, everything at the touch of a button! Though due to the Gamecube controllers’ right thumbstick absence, aiming feels a little bit more unnatural when pitted against a game such as Halo, which benefits from a double thumbstick layout. To aim in Metroid Prime you generally have to hold the R trigger, and then move the control stick to aim. Of course while aiming, you are unable to move. But, Nintendo has come up with a much simpler alternative to manual aiming. In most cases, you can simply hold the Left trigger down, and you’ll automatically lock on to enemies. Simple and comfortable.
The Metroid series always has been renowned for its great graphics, and Metroid Prime doesn’t lose that tradition in any way, shape or form. Now a lot of Nintendo made games are often cartoon like or artistic in perspective. They for the most part don’t push hardware to its limits. However, Metroid Prime may be one of the few exceptions. It delivers some of the greatest graphics of its time. With realistic effects in absolute general. Especially when it comes to up close and personal encounters. For example, a burrower (one of the many creatures you’ll come across) will pop up from the ground and spit blue waste at you. But instead of this just dealing damage, your visor will actually be drenched in this blue liquid for the time being. Another realistic effect is if your running in a smoky area, your visor will (like in real life) fog up. There are many other realistic effects that change the look of things in your visor. And it’s these sorts of things that really make you feel like your actually there. It makes it seem like you are actually fighting off a horde of space pirates, or exploring the depths of the deep blue. Of course realistic visor effects don’t just make graphics great. The game just really looks fantastic. Samus’ power suit is a worthy mention. The times you get to see it in small or large cut scenes, it looks fantastic. It glistens and reacts to every speck of light or energy that may come near you. And the various customizations that happen to her suit all look and react phenomenally. And what would a game be without its great looking bad guys. You’ll encounter many unique looking enemies all with distinguishable features, though some of the enemies are recycled, but have a different feature or two. For example, Space Pirates are one sort of enemy that you’ll encounter on numerous occasions. And by god they do look fantastic in their own special way. However, in addition to Space Pirates, you’ll find Shadow Pirates, Flying Pirates, Aqua Pirates, and weapon specific pirates with a few special exterior features, which are usually colored stripes. But think of that as a bargaining point. In exchange for some linear baddies, you’ve got some mind blowing bosses. The bosses are tremendous in size, with excellent details and you’ll also find that they’re non linear. They all look different and are beautiful in their own hideous, appalling way. Sound and sound effects go hand in hand with graphics. There’s no speech in this game, at all. Hell, there’s not even one bit of dialogue in this game, but that doesn’t mean the sound fails. Metroid Prime’s key sound source is from the sound effects of things. Making up more then half of the sound category, are the various creatures and monsters you come across. As mentioned before there’s a decent amount of bad guy you’ll face. But not only do they look it, but they sound like they really mean business. All the different creatures have varied battle and attack cries, as well as their own unique death cries. Another hefty portion of the sound section, are the various sound effects. Samus herself has 4 different weapons which all have charging and missile capabilities. All of these provide a very unique and distinct blasting effect. These weapon effects added to the painful screams of your average bad guys are oh so satisfying.
When you come across a game you want to play, you ask yourself whether it’s worth actually buying. Or if its one of those games that’s only good for a few days, otherwise known as a rental. Well, especially since its been about 5 years since its release, it’s definitely worth the full blown purchase. Considering you can now buy it anywhere from 5-20 dollars, it’s practically a steal. Metroid Prime will take average players about 15-20 hours. Add a few more hours if you’re going around Tallon IV collecting every single object, expansions and scanning every object there is to scan. To boot, after beating the game for a first time, you unlock hard mode which is definitely worth a shot as it the A.I. is considerably tougher and will push players even further. To add to the games worth, you can unlock 4 different image galleries, and if you own a copy of Metroid Fusion, a GBA, and a GBA-Gamecube cable, you can play the original Metroid on your Gamecube, and also unlock the Metroid fusion suit for Metroid Prime. So all in all you really are getting a great bang for your buck when you purchase Metroid Prime.
Overall, Metroid Prime is just a phenomenal game. It delivers some of the best controls, gameplay, sound, and graphics the Gamecube has ever seen. It delivers some very realistic graphics and effects, a reasonable difficulty for everybody, and it delivers a great first person experience all around. It has just enough of that Halo sort of feel, and just enough of that classical exploration element that Nintendo knows how to deliver oh so well. Metroid Prime is definetly worth the purchase as is recommended for First Person Shooter lovers, or anybody looking for a game with a vast land ripe for exploring.