marino's Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GameCube) review

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If It Ain't Broke, Just Add Multiplayer

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When word first came out that Nintendo had assigned a no-name studio somewhere in Texas the task of taking Metroid into 3D, and that it would be first-person, many fans cringed at the idea. Two years ago, Retro Studios delivered what no one thought they could.  Metroid Prime is arguably the best game on the GameCube.  It's not my personal choice, but its greatness cannot be denied.  The sequel is more of what everyone loved in the first one.  It is the epitome of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

As the game begins, Samus Aran finds herself on the planet Aether with the task of helping the Galactic Federation investigate a case of missing troops.  Withinn the first hour of play, you find yourself alone with all of your accessories stolen.  The game centers around a tried and true Light vs Dark world scenario as Samus struggles to solve the mysteries while being stalked by what appears to be...herself. 
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The game looks almost identical to the original as far as the graphics go.  That's definitely not a bad thing though.  The worlds are sharp and vivid.  The art design as a whole is incredible.  The only real complaint is that some textures don't look so hot when extremely close, but that's nitpicking.  The framerate is solid and the special effects are good too.  Not a lot to say here since it's almost identical to the first Prime.  One thing I especially liked was the presentation.  The menus alone are very cool.    

Okay, it's not a first-person shooter.  Just get that out of your head.  Prime 2 still features the lock-on style of the first game.  The gameplay is focused on exploration and adventure more than it is about blowing shit up.  The morph ball is obviously back and there are more puzzles involving it than before.  A few times it was difficult to target the thing I wanted, and I wish there was a way to use the C-stick to aim but overall the game's controls are still spot-on.  Again, not much has changed since the first game. 
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The music in Prime 2 successfully conveys the fact that you are alone.  From the opening cinematic I began wondering what it would be like to know that you're alone on this world with the possibility that I might not be able to get out.  The music amplifies that feeling to create an excellent experience.  It sets the tone for what the game is all about and pulls you into the world better than most games.    

Replay Value 
The quest is considerably larger than the first game, which is nice.  It should take you about 20 hours to complete it the first time through but longer if you're OCD like myself and scan every single little thing you come across.  After you've completed that, there's the addition of multiplayer which features a handful of maps and two gameplay types; Deathmatch and Bounty Hunter.  Deathmatch is self explanatory, but in Bounty mode, injured players "bleed" money.  First person to accumulate the target amount of money wins.  The multiplayer may feel a little outdated even with the unique aspects of the gameplay that you won't find in other multiplayer shooters (morph balls, lock-on targetting, etc).       

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Prime 2 doesn't try to hide the fact that it's a sequel in any sense of the word.  If you liked the first, you'll love the second.  If you didn't like the first, then you're probably not even reading this.  At times, it may feel like you're playing the same game all over again, but not often.  Metroid Prime 2 is an immersive gaming experience and a great adventure game.  Not only is it one of the best games for the purple tetrahedron, but it's one of the best games this generation. 
*** This review was written for shortly after the release of the game. ***

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