MDb Review: Metroid Prime 3: by Jesse D

Retro Studios has proven to us several things. First of all, they proved us that Metroid could indeed be pulled off in 3D. They showed us that despite the fact that the gameplay had switched to a first person point of view, they could still create a game that felt like Metroid and nothing like Quake. They singlehandedly established a genre which came to be known as the "first person adventure."

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is third "first person adventure" in Retro Studios' subseries of the classic Metroid franchise. On the surface, it's a direct sequel to the first two Metroid Prime games, but what sets it apart from really being "more of the same" is the way that many of the gameplay mechanics have been re-worked.

I'll break this review down categorically. Don't worry, it's spoiler-free.

The Wii is admittedly no contest in the graphics department when put up against its other competitors in the market. If you put Prime 3 up against a game such as, say, Gears of War, its graphical awe will fall short.

But don't get me wrong. Prime 3 is a damn gorgeous game. It follows the same graphical stylings of its predecessors, but improves upon them by taking advantage of the Wii's improved graphics hardware. Textures are crisper, backdrops on the horizon are sharper, and wide open spaces are wider and more open. You'll see a subtle-but-masterful use of lighting and bloom effects. Samus and her suit look as sleek as ever, with a subtle but beautiful sheen.

All of this runs at a buttery-smooth 60 frames per second. I never once noticed any clunkiness or slowdown. This is important as it works well with the game's unique control scheme.

This is where Metroid Prime 3 really shines. I've never played a console game that felt as natural and perfectly-executed as this. It'll take you probably 15 minutes before you're accustomed to it, but you'll never want to go back. It's intuitive and a lot of fun to use.

Holding the Wii Remote in your right hand, you point it at the screen and you aim using a reticule which responds with impeccable precision. As you move your right arm, Samus' right arm follows in near-exact unison. The analog stick on the nunchuck controls all of your movement. What's unique about Prime 3 (versus its two predecessors) is that Samus now has the ability to strafe at all times without first having to lock onto something. This aspect in combination with the free-style aiming makes Prime 3 feel more natural than anything you've ever played before.

The tilt functionality of the Wii Remote and nunchuck are also put to fair use in Prime 3. You'll be using your Wii Remote to operate locking systems, turn knobs, and push and pull levers, among other things. The nunchuck is what you will use to operate the Grappling Beam. By simply locking onto appropriate targets, you can cast your Grapple Beam like a fishing line until it locks onto your target. You can then use it to manipulate things... Yank away an enemy's shield, dismember an enemy, remove obstructions, pull levers... You can even use it to swing.

The menu system allows you to customize many aspects of the control scheme. You're offered three levels of sensitivity for aiming. Even if you're a newbie to the game, I strongly recommend using the "Advanced" sensitivity. This allows your view to stay mostly centered on the reticule, which will make general motion feel more fluid, and it won't wear out your arm. The free-aiming really proves to be invaluable in Prime 3,and you'll quickly become proficient with it. It feels just as natural (if not moreso) as a mouse/keyboard combination on a PC.

Oh, and best of all, the ability to jump as a Morph Ball returns! By simply flicking the Wii remote upward, Morph Ball Samus can jump. This will save you time from having to wait for bombs, and it'll make bomb jumping much easier to accomplish.

Prime 3's ambience is as potent as ever. Creatures and weapon blasts sound convincing. There is a lot of low-range put to use here, so if you have your TV's audio wired through a subwoofer, you'll be in for a powerful floor-shakingly deep rumble. It sounds great. The final beam sounds especially awesome while it charges.

The music of Prime 3 follows suit with its two predecessors. There are new songs and ambiences (if you will) as well as a hand full of recognizable tracks from past games. Admittedly, there's nothing really memorable here. While some songs have an epic feel to them, others are just annoying. The title theme was especially disappointing, with vocal synths that play at such high notes that it sounds terribly synthetic.

Retro Studios, you've proven a lot to us. You're a great developer and a fantastic designer. But I'm sorry, your story writers don't even remotely seem to be fans of the Metroid series. While the continuity of the Prime arc itself flows smoothly, we're still left with so many plot holes and questions that we really find ourselves right back where we started by the end of this game. Perhaps it's just the fanboy in me speaking, but I was really disillusioned by what story revelations this game's story failed to deliver. It could have been so much more awesome.

The story itself flows well, and in a unique turn for the series, is now told vocally through cutscenes. Samus remains a mute, but her colleagues and even enemies can now speak. You'll receive orders and useful information throughout the game as is told to you through a comm-link system. You can now see Samus interact with the Galactic Federation and with other NPC's throughout the game.

See reviews of the gameplay of Prime 1 and 2. Prime 3 still retains the "scan-and-research" aspect, and you'll often find that you can't accomplish anything without first scanning your surroundings. Many parts of the story are also driven by what you are able to scan.

Samus' ship plays a greater role in Prime 3; as transportation, as a weapon and as a tool. You'll be much more dependent on it this time around, but fortunately you are able to call it to you at certain locations for added firepower or for a quick ride to other regions of the planet (or even other planets).

There is a new addition to the battle system called "Hyper Mode". Hyper Mode is an ability of Samus to temporarily heighten the intensity of her suit's firepower through the use of Phazon. While this makes you stronger, you'll discover that this comes at a cost. It'll be key, however, to the development of the overall story.

The boss fights are incredible. You'll find that the controls hold solid for you as you're battling it out with creatures many times your own size. Every single one of them was an adrenaline rush and while they presented a nice challenge, I was never frustrated. This is an important change of pace from the infuriating difficulty of Prime 2's bosses.

If you own a Wii, you must own this game. If don't own a Wii, and you liked the Prime series, then you must own a Wii and this game. Prime 3 is a major improvement over the gloom and difficulty of Prime 2. There's more color and less exclusive use of the color purple. Every world and region is beautiful in its own distinct way. The difficulty is balanced just right in Prime 3 so that you'll never deal with frustrating fights such as Prime 2's Boost Ball and Spider Ball guardians. There is also a new checkpoint system that will allow you to resume the game at a nearby location if you die.

This game is fun. Despite the shortcomings with the story and music (which are just picky complaints), the control scheme and overall pace make this game a blast to play. The replay value is also high, as you will be given two additional difficulties. But while it definitely stands as a testament to the mastery of a genre that Retro Studios has accomplished, I'm glad to see that this is the end of a trilogy. It was a fantastic game, but I'm afraid that a Metroid Prime 4 would really begin to wear out its welcome.

I give Metroid Prime 3: Corruption an 8.5 out of 10.