Monday, October 22, 2007

Metroid Prime

System: Gamecube
Type: Shooter/Adventure/Platformer
Graphics: 9.5/10
Sound: 8.5/10
Gameplay: 9.5/10
Story: 9/10
Multiplayer: n/a

Overall: 9.5/10

This is one of the first console games I have actually completed, why? Not because it is too short, it took me 17 hours, but because it is amazing. Metroid Prime is not just a first person shooter, it features environmental puzzles, some light platforming and huge amounts of exploring. I believe it is this careful mix of genres is what makes this game so good.

The game put you in the shoes of Samus Aran, a female bounty hunter, on her way to a distress call.The distress call comes from a planet called Talon IV, inhabited by the Chozo. However, they all appear to be dead. That is the basic introductory story, I won't spoil the story line, but it is suffice to say that what killed them you will kill. The story in this game isn't well crafter like a Harry Potter novel or as gripping as Zelda, the beauty is the back story. In the game you have a visor called the scan visor. You can use this to scan certain objects in the game. Some of these scannings are compulsory, such as lifts that need activating, but there are many which are unnecessary and have varying significance. You have a log book where you store the back story as it were, in the game there are 17 Chozo Lore, 27 Space Pirate Data and hundreds of items about all the creatures. Each Chozo Lore/Space Pirate Data contains a snippet of information (about 3/4 A4 page) This already adds a huge amount of interesting but in some senses unnecessary information to pad out the story. Furthermore, almost everything interesting can be scanned for more information. For example, early on in the game you will come across half dead Space Pirates, you can scan them and find out how they got injured and where their weaknesses lie. Overall the story is normal sci-fi, but the back story is on the scale of Oblivion, which makes the game feel that bit more real.

Graphically this game is amazing. Considering it came out 7 years ago, and today I regard the graphics as excellent is a credit to the work. It isn't just the great looking graphics, although the various areas of Talon IV are recreated beautifully, but the little touches that are through out the game. When you come out of water, water drips off your visor, when in X-Ray visor, you can see the bones in your hand and when there is a bright flash of light, you can see Samus's reflection. On top of this, there is a fantastic physics engine on the same line as Halos'. Admittedly, there aren't hundreds of boxes flying about, however, each enemy moves realistically and impressively when you blow them up. All this adds up to an excellently presented games with only a few, and almost unnoticeable, frame dips.

Not only this, but the game sounds great too. You various guns make excellent noises, generators make strange pulsing sounds, each enemy makes individual screeches. Even your footsteps are impressive as they vary depending on what you're standing on and how hard you hit it. The games music, although not as catchy or as well orchestrated as say Zelda or Mario, certainly sets the atmosphere and the boss fight music also sounds good. Once again, I conclude that the sounds are fantastic and frame the game excellently.

The game play combines may different genres, and mixes them excellently. Exploring the vast world of Talon IV is great fun. There are so many nooks and crannies through out that chances are you will never find everything, in fact, I have completed the game and put a couple of hours just looking for stuff and I have still found under 75% of everything. Furthermore, you will find new creatures, environments and weapons which will spur you on to continue you exploring. When you find these creatures, you will have to kill them, the difficulty of this task varies considerably. Fighting the enemies is handled through locking on and shooting them. At first this seems a little simple and un-rewarding, but as your enemies get harder, you will be forced to dodge incoming attacks, find and face their weak spots and do all this in a narrow corridor. Space Pirates excluded, the animals fight with animal instincts. This feels really realistic as you will find each creature will have its own methods at defending itself and the colony. Fighting Space Pirates also feels great as they will roll and dodge your shots whilst maintaining a constant barrage of fire on your position.

Another genre that is mixed in with the game is platforming. In most instances this breaks up the combat and fits the adventuring well. However, because the game is in the first person perspective, this can some times be frustrating. As you can not see your feet, you can easily make a jump, but because you believe you may have over jumped you adjust your jump and thus miss the platform that you were aiming for. This problem is exalted by the fact that when you miss, you will invariably be sent right back to the first jump, which as likely as not will be just as hard. Some platform-centric rooms can take you over half an hour to clear, despite knowing that each jump is easy and perfectly possible.

One final genre included in the mix is some basic puzzle solving. Although the puzzles aren't as well thought out as something like Zelda, they do, once again, break up the action nicely and are fairly rewarding when you crack them. Quite a few of them are environment based, forcing you to study, and scan, your environments to find out how to reach an especially high ledge, for example.

Overall the gameplay is fantastic. Some times the controls feel a little dated after spending some time with Halo, but you will soon come to realize that the game isn't focused around the combat, and when it is, the challenge isn't hitting the enemies, but making sure they don't hit you. The only gripes I have are that looking up and down are unnecessarily tricky process and sometimes the platforming feels out of place in the first person perspective.

As for replayabilty, when you complete the single player you unlock the harder mode, which while I have not got very far in, my friend assures me that the difficulty is certainly a mark up from the normal difficulty. On top of this, many players, me included, will be tempted to go back and find all the things that they didn't find on their first time through, and believe me you won't have found everything. The game lets you carry on from your last save before the final boss, making it perfectly possible to do this. The game does not have multiplayer, but because of the lock-on control system, it doesn't feel missing. The main single player will take you slightly less than 20 hours excluding all the time you will spend finding everything.

In conclusion, this game is simply fantastic. This game is so well polished, you can see your reflection in it, literally. The graphics and sound add together to make one smooth game. The gameplay is a beautiful blend of different genres which culminate in great boss fights. While the game may not have multiplayer, the game has plently of single player and replayability to make up for it. Any slight quips about controls can easily be ignored, because this isn't just a great platformer/shooter/adventure it is simply one of the greatest games ever made.

No comments:

Post a Comment

"All your base are belong to us"