Thursday, January 31, 2008

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

System: Wii
Type: Shooter/Adventure/Platformer
Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 9/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Story: 9/10
Multiplayer: n/a but it should be

Overall: 9/10

This was my most anticipated games for the Wii, Metroid Prime 1 was amazing. Except for the controls. The controls for this game look perfect. Surly this game is perfect. Unfortunately not, but it is still one of the best games I have ever played. This review will be written quite comparatively to Metroid Prime 1, if you haven't read my review or played on the game, I suggest you do.

The story in this game finishes the trilogy. While I don't want to give away the ending, it is average. It does leave the possibility of another Metroid, but doesn't seal it. The games first 3rd plays out much more like Halo with combat oriented, object driven first person shooting. This works well, thanks to the amazing control scheme. After that the game returns to its root and you are set loose on grand objectives and the entire system to explore and discover. The game is much more story driven than the first one, this is pulled off with some voice acting. Although I use the term "acting" loosely. At best, the voice acting is bearable, but most of the time it is clich├ęd and annoying. It is, to be fair, Nintendo's first attempt at voice acting, and shows why they shouldn't do it.

Graphically, the game looks great. However, if you compare them to Metroid 1, the only real difference is in the use of soft lighting. Skytown is beautiful, and Space Pirate Homeworld is creepy. Unfortunately, the games worlds aren't nearly as dramatic as they were in MP1. The game, like the first one, streams all the map to avoid loading times. Basically, when you shoot a door it takes a couple of seconds to open so it can load the next area. This works great, except sometimes it just takes too long. You can find yourself waiting upwards of 15 seconds for some doors to open. This really breaks up the fluidity of the game and is a real shame. The game does also experience the occasional latency, mainly when it is raining on the Space Pirate Homeworld and you are using your charge beam.

The game is the same audio treat it was in MP1, except with even better background music. The sounds are crisp and the music builds the tension perfectly with some truly memorable tunes. All of these tunes can be bought with credits that you collect throughout the game, see below. It is suffice to say, that I do listen to them as real background music and while I still think Zelda has a better sound track, it is still very good. Unfortunately, the beam rifle does not come though the Wii-remote, but this would probably get old quick, and get through your batteries quick.

The control scheme is obviously the main selling point of any Wii game, and this game is no exception. However, the difference between this game and every other Wii game, is it uses the Wiimote perfectly. It doesn't over use it, it doesn't simply replace buttons with wiggles, it , put simply, is perfect. Naturally, you point to aim, if you move towards the edge of the screen, Samus begins to turn. This may sound simple, but it works perfectly. This combined with the loose lock on, enabling you to strafe with independent aiming, provides a very fun and rewarding combat experience.

The game also has some gestures. One of the best is to do with the grapple beam, an item you acquire early on during your adventure. Basically, you lock on to an enemy, just the NChuck forwards then rip back to pull their shield off, opening them up for weapon fire. This action works well and is very rewarding. The game will also have you twisting, pushing and pulling the Wiimote to complete various actions throughout the galaxy. Most of the time, these work excellently and really serve to bring you inside the game. However, occasionally they feel gimmicky and sometimes you will have to repeat the action to get it to work. The control scheme, combined with a few other touches like a controller battery meter in your visor, make this game feel like a Wii game through and through, as opposed to Zelda, where it was more of an after thought.

One improvement the game has on MP1 is the Morph Ball puzzles. In Metroid Prime 1, they often felt like 2d puzzles that were begrudgingly converted in to 3D. This time round, the puzzles full embrace the 3D environment like the rest of the game. Also, because you receive all your power ups much more quickly, the puzzles quickly force you to use all of your abilities. As for the rest of the puzzles, they are on a par with MP1, usually scanning the item will be enough for you to solve it.

One of the things the game does that is very next generation-esque is achievements. they aren't actually called achievements and function a little differently, but the core concept is still there. You collect these things called credits. You can collect these credits in a number of different ways, depending on their colour. Some are very easy to collect, all you have to do is to scan a creature, others require a little bit more luck/skill, for example, clearing a certain area without loosing a single GF troop. Beating bosses also rewards you with credits. You can then purchase a number of things with these credits, including a screen shot taker, concept are, music and a little Mii thing to put in your space ship. Unfortunately, this system is undermined by two things. Firstly, it neither keeps track of how you got the credits nor how you have spent them, so their is no way of comparing with other people, and also most of the cool stuff requires you to get friend credits. These can only be got by having a wi-fi enabled friend with Corruption (a game without an online mode) to send you credits. This means that I have not been able to try out the screen shot taker or the Mii thing, as I don't have any friends who meet the requirements, and it is very infuriating.

Perhaps this games worst aspect is the lost potential. Obviously, the online is at the most forefront for critizim. The game NEEDED multiplayer. The campaign is short and lower replay value than MP1. The control scheme is more than responsive. The morph ball, if cleverly designed, could make an interesting dynamic (much like the Warthog in Halo). Skyworld among other areas, would make a fantastic map base. The Wii is online enabled. The list goes on. The lack of multiplayer will torment me for the rest of my life, as Metroid Prime has quickly become one of my favourite game series, and now it is over.

That is not the only lost potential in this game. Throughout the game, you have limited access to your ship. Some problems will require you to use your ship to do certain things and you can land you ship in designated places to save and fly to other locales. While this is a huge improvement on MP1, it should have been taken further. For example, there should have been bonus places to land your ship which weren't compulsory. Also, when you are flying, you watch a video of your space ship. Inside your space ship, if you get in to it without flying anywhere, there is a bunch of stuff to do, like health scans. It is all cool but pointless, the perfect thing to do whist waiting for the next area to load. Or even better, be able to look at the map. There are a number of other things in the game where you feel they should have been used more. None of these things are particularly important, but there are a number of things where you feel that with a little more effort, the great idea could be used to its full potential.

This is always going to be a tricky title to review. It is a great game in its own write, but the lost potential and the over standing superiority of Metroid Prime 1 do leave a some what dark shadow over this game. The game needed multiplayer, even if it was just offline. The control scheme is the first scheme to, in my opinion, rival, if not supersede, the mouse/keyboard combination. The accuracy allowed with the Wiiremote and easily accessible buttons with joystick make it perfect. This game isn't without flaws, not least the voice acting, but this is an amazing game which deserved far more press than it received. The story is good, the controls, and I really can't stress this enough, are fantastic and there is no reason not to get it. It is just such a shame considering the potential this game had.

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