Thursday, 26 May 2011

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Mission Complete.

Yesterday saw me finishing my first play through of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for the Nintendo Wii, as well as finally witnessing the end of the “Metroid Prime” storyline. The original Metroid Prime on the Gamecube has always been one of my most favourite games and was, if I recall correctly, only the fifth or sixth Gamecube game I ever bought, therefore I've been playing through the Metroid Prime Trilogy for about a decade. Unfortunately, to my greatest dismay, Retro Studios's last Metroid offering leaves me somewhat dissatisfied.

Not not well versed when it comes to the Wii with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (MP3) being the first Wii game I've played that fully utilises motion controls, and I must say that I'm completely satisfied with the transition from the stiff and rigid, single analogue-stick controls of previous Prime games to the fluent motion controls of MP3. Viewing your surroundings and battling enemies never felt so organic and the whole motion-controlled aspect of MP3 is simply enjoyable but has, unfortunately, resulted in some negative changes to combat.

Motion controls allow for interesting game mechanics e.g. ripping off enemy shields with the grapple beam.

While extra beam weapons are acquired during the game, you are limited to using the latest one acquired at any one time and, while it retains the abilities of all beams acquired before it, still limits combat strategy. For example, in the original Metroid Prime, when fighting an ice-based enemy, one may chose the Wave Beam to stun it, and then finish it off with the Plasma Beam mixed with missiles or even the optional, missile-consuming Flame-thrower attack; whereas in MP3, the strategy of choosing the best weapon for the job is removed, with optional weapon power-ups missing completely. Faced with beating all enemies with one beam and missiles, I often found myself using the utterly over-powered, Phazon-infused Hyper-Mode to dispatch enemies with ease, making the standard weapons pointless.

Hypermode makes dispatching enemies disappointingly easy.

The other major effect motion controls has had on combat is found in the numerous boss battles. The Metroid series is known for it's difficult, original but well-designed bosses, and MP3 is no different, in fact, MP3 has you pitted again fellow bounty hunters whom have succumbed to Phazon corruption, each with their own unique abilities, resulting in rather memorable bosses. The boss battles themselves, however, take far too long, are fiddly to complete and often have the same repetitive structure. The amount of times I've had to accurately shoot a boss's “chink-in-the-armor”, Grapple Beam said armour off, shoot the boss's weak spot with Phazon, rinse and repeat, is disappointingly numerous. This doesn't help when the weak spots are usually relatively small, requiring an extremely sturdy hand and shot timing all while dodging the boss's attacks; this usually being the parts of the game where I get hand cramps. This results in boss battles that frequently last over half an hour, are annoying simple but devilishly fiddly.

Bosses are as big and visually impressive as ever.

This leads me to my last major criticism of MP3; it's difficulty, or to be precise, it's lack of difficulty. I understand that Retro Studios had to cater for new-comers to Metroid Prime, which explains the optional difficulty levels. Myself, on the other hand, have played most Metroid games, numerous FPSs and would like to think I've thoroughly completed both Metroid Prime games and thus played the game on the harder “Veteran” difficulty. I died twice, with both deaths being near the end of the game and I never felt that I was properly challenged both in combat and in the game's exploration and puzzle solving. Hyper-Mode was always there to decimate any group of enemies no matter how numerous or strong, and having such ready access to my ship to take me to any region of any planet at any time as well as resupplying me with missiles and health only added to my seeming invincibility. MP3 is definitely the easiest of the three prime games, and disappointingly so.

While most enemies look intimidating, the aforementioned Hypermode makes quick work of them all.

With regards to graphics, MP3 is basically a glorified Gamecube game, but so are most Wii games, so I won't discuss “graphics” here. Aesthetically, however, MP3 seems somewhat uninspired. Metroid Prime had various, distinctly different environments, such as the firery Magmor Caverns, the beautifully icy Phentedra Drifts, an eerie crashed frigate and more. Metroid Prime 2: Echos also had some interesting environments, with my favourite being the computer world of Sanctuary Fortress, but more importantly, all areas had their eerie Dark Aether counterparts. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has neither of these things and offers little to make it stand out. This is made even worse by every planet visited having the same four or five enemies turning up but with alternate names and skins. This takes away from the sense of isolation common to all other Metroid games, something I felt was certainly missing from MP3.

The abandoned Chozo SkyTown was by far the most memorable environment. 

MP3 is also lacking in the audio department, bringing nothing new to the series with forgettable original tracks and with only a few reworked versions of older Metroid melodies.

It's easy to talk about the bad points of any game, and believe me when I say I like to rant and complain. However, this is not a bad game by any means and is far, far better than many of the atrocious games I've played over the years. The problem is that the previous two Prime games were just that bit better, and it's impossible not to compare the latest offering with them. The fact that this was the end of a trilogy only enhanced my expectations, however, beating the final boss and watching the game's ending left me bitterly dissatisfied.

Overall, if you haven't played a Metroid Prime game, I would strongly recommend getting the first one on Gamecube. If you're interested in experiencing the fantastically implemented motion controls there's an expensive alternative in the three game package, Metroid Prime Trilogy; this being all three Metroid Prime games on one Wii-only disc, all upgraded with full motion controls. Unfortunately, the package has been out of print for a few years now, with all second had copies demanding prices equal to what the game would be brand new. I myself still don't have a copy.

Reading back on my post, this has turned into more of a whiny rant than a decent review. This is one reason why I tend not to do reviews or pretend that I'm any good at doing them. If anything it's a first hand account of a real gamers experience with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and I hope you enjoyed it.

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