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Metroid Prime

Review By:  Sam Cosentino

Developer:  Retro Studios
Publisher:  Nintendo
# of Players:  1
Genre:  First-Person Adventure
ESRB:  Teen
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card, GBA/GCN Link Cable (Metroid Fusion)
Date Posted:  2-4-03

August 23, 2000 was not just any ordinary day; it was the beginning of Spaceworld, the Nintendo-hosted event where they make announcements and where they show their upcoming games. This wouldn't be any ordinary event, however; because this event would showcase the GameCube, and what it has to offer. Now most people were stunned when they saw the graphical capabilities of the GameCube for they were absolutely breathtaking, but what they were mostly interested in was Zelda. It was the first time the GameCube Zelda had been announced, but it was also the first time another game would be announced; that game was Metroid Prime-the sequel the Metroid fans had been demanding for years, and now they would finally get it. When most people heard that Prime wouldn't be in third-person but first-person, and that the game wasn't being made by Nintendo but by some second-party American company named Retro Studios they were a bit angry to say the least. Needless to say, many people thought this was blasphemy to the series, and that it just wouldn't be any good. How wrong they were…


When it comes to the graphical prowess of Metroid Prime there are few that equal it. This game has got to be one of the prettiest games I have ever seen in my entire life. The detail put into this game is almost surreal in nature. The design of the levels in Prime is also something to behold for every level is absolutely stunning. The environment is also very diverse for you get your ice level, your fire/lava level, your forest level, a dark and daunting mines level, and the ruins of a once strong city that had been around for ages. The folks at Retro Studios have thought about everything that they put into the environment of the game as well, and it shows. From the small ferns that populate the planet to the tall trees that exist in the Chozo Ruins; Metroid Prime stands at the top of its class with its atmospheric and unique environments. And it's a good thing the environment is so detailed too, for it would be pretty boring when you have to return to the Chozo Ruins if you really hate the area you got to go to. I mean, the discovery and exploration aspect is what makes Metroid what it is, and if the environments were tedious then it wouldn't be very fun. The way the environment acts with you is also something to behold. The main reason as to why the environments are so detailed and atmospheric is due to the special effects. I love the way the visor collects dew, the way you can see Samus' face reflects in her visor when she shoots something at close-range, the way the visor freezes up when you are hit by a cold attack…it's something you could talk about for hours on end it's that extraordinary. As you can see the game is truly amazing when it comes to special effects and it leaves you wanting more and more, and it delivers each time.

Now, you'd think with all this attention to detail that there would have to be at least SOME drop in the frame rate, but there isn't. This game stays at a consistent and smooth frame rate, and I have no idea how the hell they did it. The entire world is connected and yet there isn't a drop in frame rate at all, and that is another thing-the fact that the entire world is connected. It adds a sense off being there when every level is connected.  And the fact that the world is connected ensures that the original Metroid fans can't deny the fact that this game pays homage to the previous Metroids before it, and then some.  Basically, the ambiance of the game is absolutely involving and it draws you in like a vacuum sucking up dirt.

The graphics are great, the frame rate is consistent; the environments are diverse and extremely detailed but what about the sound? Well, the sound is anything but bad, or poor, or even average for that matter. This game has some of the very best sound I've heard in any game. It's chock-full of sound effects such as when Samus walks you actually hear her feet as they step over the wet grass, when she walks over solid ground and through tunnels you can hear her feet as they make contact with the solid metallic floor below you, the way you can hear the waterfall hiss as the water cascades down the rocks and into the water below, you can even hear her body jump through the air! All this adds to the beautiful environment and the amazing special effects of the game that expand upon the environment. This in turn makes the environment feel as though it is an actual living and breathing world. And that's what it's all about-when you play Metroid Prime you get the feeling you aren't just playing a game-you're actually part of the game, and that is why I think Metroid Prime is the most atmospheric game ever made, for it makes you feel (for once) that you are the character. Sure, many games have done it but not to the extent as this game.

But aside from the great sound effects, the game also has an excellent sound track. The music fits their respectable areas perfectly, truly setting the mood that you would expect for the corresponding area. Kenji Yamamoto (the composer of the original Metroid games) is back to compose the soundtrack of Metroid Prime, like it should be. He does a great job bringing back that old Metroid feeling. He also does a great job at quickening and slowing the speed of the music. As you fight the music gets more aggressive, causing you to also become more aggressive when you fight your enemy (akin to Halo, in a way). But as the game's music gets aggressive as you fight, it also gets passive and calms down once you defeat your enemies and they are all dead. Yes, the game adds a ton of new music to the Metroid series but it also does have music from the older Metroid games as well; music that should be recognizable to almost any Metroid fan.

The game play of Metroid Prime is absolutely nothing short of addicting and absolutely pressuring at the same time. The moment you step onto the world of Tallon IV you get merely a sample of the things to come. The game truly picks up when you get to the Phrendrana Drifts, for it is when the game stops playing with you and actually fights back. At this point you will not want to stop playing for the game will literally draw you into it due to the addictively and the difficulty. Also, one part of the game play that I find ingenious is the fact that there are hidden walls, rooms, and platforms. These things are what make Metroid, Metroid. I remember playing the original Metroid long ago and finding a secret passage and room I would've probably never noticed at first. You will not always find everything in Metroid, and that is the very thing that makes it a discovery game. The fact that you have the freedom to explore the entire planet that you are confined to is exhilarating. And when you find a missile expansion, you start to say to yourself "Ahah! I found another one!" or when you find that last one that has been eluding you for a long time you'd say "Hell yeah! I finally found it! I've found all the missile expansions!" and that sense of satisfaction is something that makes Metroid so appealing.

Sure, blasting the walls and finding hidden items is fun, and the addiction you get while playing Prime is very surreal, but one of the greatest things Metroid has isn't just finding hidden passages, it's about being able to transform into a ball. The morph ball is probably one of the most ingenious ideas I've ever seen. The way you move while in the morph ball is so fluent and easy that it's literally almost second-nature. The morph ball is also very cool for you get to upgrade it. You will be able to use the bombs you get to propel your morph ball to higher ledges, and thus discovering more hidden passages to explore. There is also an upgrade for the bombs called the Power Bomb, which can destroy Bendezium, allowing you to reach even more areas than you could before. And let's not forget about the Spider Ball Upgrade! Being able to ride across the spider tracks is something I've grown found of, and it's definitely my second favorite morph ball upgrade of them all. The spider ball isn't just cool looking, it allows you to travel across a lake of lava without being hurt by finding a shortcut or it lets you reach that high platform in the room with the missile expansion. Finally, my favorite morph ball upgrade of them all is the Boost Ball Upgrade. I absolutely love boosting up the turnpikes and reaching the high plateaus above. It reminds me of skateboarding, but it's not the purpose of the game. Though with all the great upgrades in the game, there is at least one that immediately comes to mind when I think of Metroid-the screw attack. It's missing from this game, but I understand why. The screw attack would be sort of difficult to implement into the game, and it would have to be reworked if they wanted to put it in. Even without the screw attack, Metroid Prime is still a great game.

The Morph Ball is definitely an awesome utility, but the different cannons you get are as good if not better. You get a Power Beam to start out with, but later you get the Wave Beam, the Freeze Beam, and finally the Plasma Beam. Each Beam has an awesome effect that it creates when it makes contact with a monster. The Plasma beam incinerates a creature when you kill it-its body turning to ash. The Power Beam just kills the opponent, and they disappear. The Wave Beam makes electricity circle around your enemy's body for a second. And finally the Freeze Beam freezes your opponent in a block of solid ice (temporarily, naturally). But of course you get upgrades to these beams, like the previous Metroid Games. They called these upgrades "Beam Combos". The Flamethrower and the Super Missile are only two of four of these upgrades, and the Super Missile is indefinitely the one you will use the most out of them all. You also get to upgrade your suit, from the original Power Suit, to the Varia Suit, and the Gravity Suit. You also get the grappling beam and the space jump boots, which help you progress further through the game. The grappling beam and space jump boots are by far the two best items you get, but that's because they are two of the most used upgrades out of them all.


Finally, the best thing about Metroid Prime is its revolutionary Visor. It's indefinitely my favorite feature of the entire game, and it's so awesome that it never gets tiring. First, you start out with only two visors: the scan visor and the regular visor. The scan visor is probably the most important visor in the game, and rightfully so-it's the thing that really moves the story along. You will also be rewarded by how much you scan. The scan visor can be used to read Chozo Lore (which is very fun to read), Creature Data (which gives you a bestiary of all the creatures in the game [if you manage to scan them all]), the Space Pirate Data (Which tells you what happened to the Space Pirates), the Research Data (which is basically telling you about the save stations, map stations, etc.) and finally the last but most important feature of the scan visor is that it has to be used to solve a lot of puzzles in the game. You will notice that you'll be using it a lot during the beginning, but will become less-important as your journey comes to an end. The Thermal Visor is the first visor upgrade you get, and one of the coolest. I once went to Magmoor Caverns and switched to the Thermal Visor, and boy was it fun. And since the visor only detects heat, nearly everything I saw was almost completely red.  But the Thermal Visor isn't just a novelty, it's also necessary to complete many puzzles in the game, and it allows you to detect hidden enemies or it helps you see in the darkness. Finally, my favorite visor is the X-Ray Visor. It's such an awesome thing to have, and when you have it you'll understand why. You'll need it to find some of the games secrets, but also it has many cool special effects to it. Like when you get hit while you have your X-Ray Visor up Samus will bring her hand up towards her visor, and you'll be able to see the bones in her hand. But also the X-Ray Visor is also a nice tool, because you'll be able to finally find those freaking Chozo Ghosts without waiting for them to appear. To sum it all up, every upgrade you receive in Metroid Prime is used to its fullest potential, and that is something I truly appreciate. It doesn't seem like it's been tacked on like the nozzles in Super Mario Sunshine, and I really liked that.

Also, I've heard many people complain about the controls. I myself have had no such problems. I immediately understood and fell in love with the controls in about five minutes. Though it's a bit problematic when it comes to dodging to the left and right, and sometimes it's a bit annoying with the lock-on system (sort of like Zelda and the newly released Star Fox Adventures), due to the fact that you can only strafe when you push the "L-button".

Highs:

  • Excellent music, graphics, and environments
  • THE VISOR!
  • The morph ball
  • A number of extras such as image galleries and link features
  • Perhaps the most atmospheric game ever
  • Supports progressive scan and Dolby Surround Pro Logic II...music to my ears!

Lows:

  • Some gamers may not like all of the backtracking or the different control scheme
  • Occasional glitches that occur during the game

Final Verdict:

In conclusion, I must say that I am truly stunned by the greatness of Metroid Prime. It has done for the Metroid series what Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time did for their respective series' when they went into the 3D-realm. This game is an epic adventure that will take an average gamer 25 hours to complete, and with all the unlockables such as the Image Galleries, Hard Mode (Which increases the difficulty of the bosses and enemies) the Metroid Fusion Suit and the original Metroid (Which both can only be played when you hook-up Metroid Fusion and Metroid Prime) you'll be occupied for quite some time. It's one of the best games I've ever played, and in my opinion it's so far the best GameCube game released in America of them all. All these reasons is why I give it the highest accolade I can give it for the year by naming it my Game of the Year.

If you have a GameCube, get this game. If you don't have a GameCube, buy one and get this game. It's a game I would recommend for anyone except the people who hate to backtrack through previous environments, and if you have a GameCube you shouldn't deny yourself such a wonderful gem.

Overall Score: 9.8

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