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 clichéd 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.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Brawl is Mental

This has gone beyond a joke, anyone who thought Halo was big, should see the amount of stuff being put on to Brawl. The size of anticipation for this game is literally only rivalled by the sheer amount of content going in to it. In case you haven't been keeping up with Dojo updates, I suggest you read the latest post:Vault.

They filled up a huge post with one section of the menu. Also, on Friday, they announced the game would include Virtual Console demos (including Super Metroid!!!) I genuinely do no know how they can fit all this on one disk, or how I am going to be able to wait for this games, as of yet, unannounced release. Super Smash Bros' Brawl comes out in Japan on the 31st.

Also, just read a preview of The Forces Unleashed, mainly focusing on the 360 and PS3 versions. I don't know which console I am going to get this game on, as all the cool graphical and technical stuff on the 360 sounds awesome, but Wii Remote light-sabering sounds UNMISSABLE. I might actually end up getting both; ridiculous.

On a completly irrelevant note, I just finished my first proper website, a driving school in Thame. If you are considering learning to drive, I suggest you go with the Drive Masters: If you have any suggestions or are interested in a website, email me @

Friday, January 25, 2008

Moving Wallpaper and Long Road out of Eden

Sorry about not posting earlier as I have been...revising? Definitely not playing on Halo 3.

Moving Wallpaper - ITV 9:00PM Friday

Moving Wallpaper (and Echo Beach after) is a new ITV (?!) comedy. The idea is that Moving Wallpaper, on at 9:00pm every Friday, is a comedy about making a soap, and then Echo Beach, 9:30pm every Friday, is the soap they have created. Apart from the fact this is a refreshingly original idea, it is actually brilliantly executed. The comedy is genuinely funny, quite apart from "The Vivian Vyle Show" a BBC comedy that just wasn't funny. Also, as you would expect, there are little jokes in Moving Wallpaper which you notice in Echo Beach. Fortunately, these are not over used and really enhance the program. I don't watch a huge number of Soaps as I find them predictable, and while this is no different, I am enjoying watching it. As you can tell, I don't normally review TV programs, which is why that review isn't very good, but I do recommend watching this and, if you can, catch up on the previous episodes.

Long Road out of Eden - The Eagles
Once again, I don't normally review music CDs, but deal with it. The Eagles have recently got back together to produce this album and while no track is going to replace Hotel California, the album is surprisingly good. The music is very mixed, with some tracks being reminiscent of classic Eagles, others sound like country folk songs, some sound like charity singles and some are more boyband-esque. Highlights of the album are: "Long Road out of Eden" and "Busy Being Fabulous"

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Brawl Delayed

The US and Japanese sites have stated that Brawl, the much anticipated forthcoming game for the Wii has been delayed. For Japan, the game will now come out in Jan 31st and for the US to March 9th. While there has been no mention of the UK release date, I imagine that we will get Brawl at the end of March. The notice says:

Due to delays in the completion of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, we’ve had to change the release date of the game to Sunday, March 9th.

I deeply apologize to the people who have looked forward to playing the game for so long and ask that you hold on just a little longer. Thank you for your patience.

On a side note, today's update features some breath taking graphics. The game has looked good up until now, but when I saw these, it made me think of LittleBig Planet, the graphically stunning and Nintendoesque PS3 exclusive coming out some time this year.

Also, Medal of Honour 2: Heroes, is coming out Feb 7th in the UK, after I have finished my first web design contract so I will hopefully getting that, as it will be after my Xbox Live subscription runs out.

Finally, I will be posting an unusual post in the coming days, it will contain a review of, get this, the new Eagles album, Long Road out of Eden. Even more unusual, a brief review of, get this too, an ITV comedy. Anyone who knows me, will know that I never watch ITV, so this has got to be pretty special. If I don't get it done by Friday, all I can say is, watch "Moving Wallpaper" and then "Echo Beach" afterwards.

On a side note, I emailed EA about my A levels I am going to take. Unfortunately, I was at first very frustrated by their website as it required me to first create an account, then specify System, Game, Issue, Sub issue and even more specific sub issue. Also, because my question was so obscure and nothing to do with Billing information on Alpha Centurai, I was expecting a reply saying this is not relevant. However, I have already got my email back and the person, who apparently didn't know, and gone to find out. On top of this, the answer was very infomative and has genuinely helped me. So EA, thumbs up!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Warning: Xbox Live is not a replacement for real life

The new site is online (as you will have noticed) however, it sucks (as you will have noticed) This was because, largely, I got an Xbox 360 which I have been playing quite a bit. I had planned to add the finishing touches between Christmas and New Year...which wasn't happening. So I decided to launch the bare bones site, but don't worry, upgrades will be coming at the end of this month. However, the site isn't just a fresh look, oh no, it is an entire change. This site will now provide:

  • Podcast - This will take place on the last day of each month and (fingers crossed) the first one will be January 31st(toes crossed). Also, I should have two friends helping me host it, so you can look forward to hearing them for the first time. For those who are worried, this will not be on Blog Talk Radio as the quality was unacceptable and I never got any live listeners.
  • News in Summary - Also at the end of each month, I will do a round up of the major news that month. This will include both topics I have covered, and ones I didn't have enough to write a whole post about (kind of like my Nintendo update a while back) It will also serve as my blog update, giving you news relating to this blog including updates to the website etc.
  • Op-Ed - Op-Ed is a type of article that isn't simply reporting facts or even stating an opinion on a particular news story. It is a much more general article about, for example, game development. While I am not clever (on interesting) enough to do a whole blog dedicated to such articles, I will be doing one at the start of every month. Any interesting comments will then be read out on the Podcast at the end. If you are still unsure about what an Op(posit)-Ed(itorial) article is, read this blog, all his articles are Op-Eds'
  • Indie Special - Every 3 months, I will cover a Indie developed game, ie. one not made by a huge publisher but created by a self employed hobbyist. This "special" will include a review of their game and an interview with the developer. If you are an Indie developer and you are looking for some extra publicity, please leave a comment and I will get back to you ASAP.
If anyone else has any suggestions for regular features, please leave a comment.

I have Halo 3, Forza Motorsport 2 and for a short time, Viva Piñata. Obviously reviews coming your way for the first two before the end of January, along with my Corruption review and hopefully my Galaxy review. All I can say about Halo is, wow the campaign is short. I interspersed playing on the campaign with both Forge and Forza and still completed it in like 4 days or something. On the plus side, there is only one level that reminded me of Halo 2 and most of the rest of the game was spectacular fun.

I also have Xbox Live (trial) If you want to add me, my name is, some what randomly, thktestaccount. When I come to buy Live subscription, it will change to thk123, so I personally recommend waiting, but if you really are that desperate! So what's Live like? Well after a very dodgy start, Live is amazing. It is loads of fun when you get in to a game and get talking to all your team and Big Team Battles are as amazing as ever. Plus, to make up for the Live down time, Microsoft are giving away a free Arcade game (yet to be announced)

Finally, while at a sleep over the other day, I managed, finally, to play on Chaos Theory's online portion. Before I played on it, I was really looking forward to it, it looked amazingly cool. If you haven't heard about it, I suggest looking up the concept in detail, but basically, one team plays as spies, who are under equipped and must sneak in to the map, locate and hold 3 different objectives to win. The other team, the Mercs, have loads of weapons but can't climb on stuff or jump, which makes an interesting and potentially well balanced sides. Unfortunately, and it may just be because I was unlucky, but the maps felt way to big for four players, most people played death match, where the spies are massively under powered and the Mercs never use any of the camera equipment they just flick lights on and go looking. Great idea, it is a shame the execution isn't so great. I will try it again at some point, but at the moment I am kind of obsessed with Forza and Halo.

"All your base are belong to us"