Sunday, September 2, 2007

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption - Review

Many gamers' minds were set at ease when Metroid Prime delivered a first person action experience worthy of the name Metroid. Later Metroid Prime 2: Echoes carried the first person action experience even further. The series now ends with the last installment, entitled Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Like all great game trilogies, this one goes out with a bang.

Metroid Prime 3 is far more story driven than the previous Prime's, much to my liking. The gameplay has a few more cutscenes to offer but the cutscenes never get in the way of the action or exploring. To set everything up for you storywise, three bounty hunters besides Samus are sent to planets around the solar to stop the Phazon corruption of those worlds. Eventually something goes wrong with all contacts and Samus is immediately sent in to complete each of their tasks. This description is, of course, skipping the action packed intro however. The intro actually took me about 2 hours to complete!

The story has just the right amount of involvement to keep a player enthused while accomplishing objectives. Samus will usually be contacted each time an objective on a planet is complete and the voice at the other end will offer her advice on what to do next or inform her of any situation at hand and point out the next destination on her map.

Oh yes, I said "voice" there, as in voice acting. Corruption features a full voice over cast for every character with the exception of Samus - well she still grunts and yells a bit. The voices fit perfectly for each character and really help to make the gameplay and story more satisfying this time. The overall sound is basically like a standard Metroid Prime - it fits well and sounds very good with a surround sound setup.

Samus journeys to several different worlds in her spaceship and must stop the Phazon corruption of each world. Of course plenty of problems get in the way while attempting to put an end to the corruption leading to a full objective list for each new area. Samus starts out with many of her basic weapons - the morph ball, bombs, charge blast, space (double) jump. There is no need to track down every single item like before. Like all Metroids, she still has to backtrack to other locations (planets) in order to pick up an item that was previously inaccessible the first time through.

If you despised that portion in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes where Samus had to journey back to several areas to find previously invisible creatures like I did, then you'll feel relieved that there is nothing like that this time around. There are some items that she must recover later in the game to continue to the game's final portion but most of them are collected throughout the main journey. I only had to go out of my way to track down two of those nine items. No "Wind Waker triforce shard gathering"-type fetch quest this time - well, for the most part.

The action is still just as intense as the other Prime's, actually even more so than its predecessors. Boss fights are stellar as always. One boss in particular is one of the best I have seen in a Prime game - such variety in that battle! Normal enemies are more plentiful during this adventure as well. More enemy encounters are definitely welcome in a game with such enjoyable controls however.

Yes, as you might have expected, the controls keep the action running smoothly and allow for some instant precise aiming. Prime 3 still uses Z targeting to allow Samus to move around her foe, but this time she does not keep her arm cannon locked on to the target. While locked on to an enemy through Z targeting, the cursor can be moved freely, so you actually have to aim at your target this time instead of just worry about dodging. It helps to make the game a bit harder since you can't fully concentrate on dodging like the past Primes, but with pinpoint accuracy thanks to the Wii-mote it all works out in the end.

The controls in this game fully utilize the Wii-mote and nunchuk attachment. The entire menu of the game (main and pause) all require the use of the Wii-mote, which makes navigating them a cinch. There are many switches and levers that require the player to pull, twist, or pump using the Wii-mote. None of these are overdone at all - they are all placed at just the right spots throughout the game and offer variety when needed.

Samus also has a grapple beam that is used quite often in the game. Lock onto an enemy with a shield then throw the nunchuk forward (a throwing gesture, mind you ;p) to grapple his shield. Tug on the nunchuk and Samus will rip the enemy's shield away from him. The Wii controls are very responsive. For instance, while grappling an enemy, you can gently pull back on the nunchuk and Samus will pull her grapple back just a bit but the second you perform a tugging motion, Samus will jerk whatever item is grappled. By the end of the game, you'll be feeling like Omega Red, literally.

Her spaceship can be controlled to some degree when she enters the cockpit. There are a variety of options to choose from while looking around at the controls. Her spaceship plays a much bigger roll in this game than any other Prime. She can actually call it to a landing dock found further in a stage in order to travel to another planet or save and also use it to help out in a few other ways (puzzles and enemies).

Love it or hate it, scanning is back once again! A mirror image of Samus' face can be seen in the visor while scanning this time - this image of Samus ties into the game's story progression in a unique way if a player takes the time to notice Samus while scanning throughout the game. Scanning seems to have much more of a purpose than simply filling out a logbook this time however. There are credits that can be obtained from scanning certain mechanisms or creatures.

All of the credits add up to allow access to the game's bonus material from the main menu. There are red credits (scan creatures), blue credits (lore [research] scanning), yellow credits (defeat bosses or other powerful enemies), and green credits (received from friend cards). Friend cards are obtained from performing certain hidden tasks in the game and can be sent via an online connection to obtain green credits. I can't offer many details on the friend system since I'm locked out from that aspect with my current connection speed - I think each friend card yields one green credit when sent though.

Samus now has a super mode entitled "hyper mode" that she can activate at any time if she has at least one energy tank (hold down +). At that time, her suit is empowered with Phazon energy and she can shoot highly destructible blasts from her arm cannon. This mode can be both a blessing and a curse depending on how it is used. A meter is displayed on the top portion of the screen and this represents the amount of Phazon that can be shot and it represents the energy tank that is currently being used. So Samus is actually sacrificing her life energy for a more destructive blast.

An interesting aspect of hyper mode is that the Phazon can actually corrupt Samus' body depending on how long hyper mode is sustained - every activation adds to her corruption. Once full corruption is reached (meter turns red), all Phazon must be shot out of the body immediately. Failure to remove all Phazon from Samus' suit will result in death.

Corruption can also enter Samus' body from taking too many Phazon shots from enemies. In other words, you might be fighting with an enemy then all of sudden Samus is hit with a Phazon shot causing her corruption level to reach max. At that time, Samus will be thrown into hyper mode and be forced to fire out all Phazon from her body while the enemies are still attacking her.

This is a very unique mode that can make for some unexpected gameplay elements at any time with its blessing or curse aspects. Normal enemies can also enter hyper mode as well and must be taken down with Phazon blasts at that time so there is always a use for this mode and it is not just "there" like wasted gameplay abilities in some other games.

With the past Metroid Primes, I found that I was in a hurry to get through the main mode - didn't even consider trying to find all the powerups and items - but with Metroid Prime 3, I felt it necessary to hunt down every single item on my own before venturing to the last portion of the game. For the first time ever, I have achieved a 100% collection ratio in a Prime on my first playthrough. I'm also considering another playthrough, which is another first for a Metroid Prime game since I usually just toss them aside and look for another game once completed - might try a higher difficulty this time.

The only minor nitpicks that I have with this game are the doors. Just like in other Metroid Primes, the doors will simply not open every time for me and I have to sit and wait on them while venturing through a level - is there a trick to this? Am I racing through rooms too quickly? Also, the final battle wasn't as epic as I was expecting. The battle just before the final was fantastic, but the very final battle was plowed through too quickly. I suppose the rest of the game and the final area built me up too much. All of this is barely noticeable in a game with such a good blend of action variety however.

My final game time was a little over 24 hours for those interested and that is with 100% completion (not all scans though). I think all gamers will find something to enjoy here whether you like the previous Metroid Primes or not. The new control scheme and gameplay mechanics really add a bunch of variety that will keep any gamer type interested while attempting to remove all Phazon from the solar system.

The Good

+ Fun controls.
+ Excellent sound (complete with voice acting!)
+ Tons of action.

The Bad

- Final battle wraps up too quickly.
- The game ends. Games this good should not end. :(

From the action-packed intro to its ultimate conclusion, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is bursting at the seam with "win" material.

And therefore Berserker dubs thee: 10/10


Nish said...

Nice review!

A brave move to award it 10/10 too. Not that I think the game might not deserve the score, but once you give out that particular mark your reviews from now on will be read differently.

Well done on the 100% as well. I've never maxed on a collection game ever as far as I recall.

Berserker said...


I suppose a 10/10 score for my first (true) blog review may make it seem as if I'm too easily pleased. :p

Honestly, I don't play many first party Nintendo titles that keep my interest that much anymore and it's rare for one to grab me such as this game did.