|First Person Adventure
| The Good
Absorbing, compelling, gaming perfection
| The Bad
Metroid Prime marks the release of one of Nintendo's
biggest franchises at a very crucial time in the Gamecube's
life, so when Nintendo announced that it would be a FPS developed
by the then unknown Retro-Studios many doubts were raised.
However, despite initial setbacks and problems, screenshots
started to appear and were constantly looking better and better
as time went on. So now the said title has been unleashed
upon the public we can finally judge for ourselves whether
Nintendo's decision was a worthy one.
Almost as soon as Samus - the lead character - lands on the
beginning stage, the space station, it is evident that great
care has been taken to ensure that this game shines with polish.
Textures, lighting and particle effects are used to the maximum
and yet there is never a point in which the framerate drops.
The beginning level also serves as a tutorial in which to
learn the seemingly awkward-at-first controls. Once you have
learned the controls however, they become second nature and
soon you'll be ducking and diving with great ease and panache.
The game features a number of well executed innovations -
one of which is the scan visor. Using this, one can gain clues
as to how to progress in the game although those worried that
this will dumb down the experience need not fear as the game
still requires a little initiative and sometimes, when accessing
secret areas, a lot of thought. The scan visor is also the
method that Retro have cleverly used to relay the storyline
by translating ancient scripts and feeding you information
about the various areas and their inhabitants. Another excellent
feature allows Samus to transform into a ball which enables
you to access areas which would normally be too small. It
is also possible to make the ball jump by placing bombs on
the floor underneath it and by varying the timing of the bombs
it is possible to reach higher levels than usual. The ball
feature also allows for a number of fun Super
Monkey Ball-esque moments where complete control over
it is imperative to ensure survival.
The main core of the gameplay is very engaging, from small
touches like the way Samus' visor steams up in hot areas to
the great sci-fi soundtrack all combine to make a very absorbing
experience. It really has that "In space, no-one can hear
you scream" Ridley Scott feel to it with many unexpected
moments making the player jump. As the game progresses, more
and more features and weapons are added to Samus' arsenal,
which, in turn, opens up more of the game playing area. The
timing and placing of these upgrades is impeccable so as not
to interfere with the flow of the game and often you'll find
yourself feeling compelled to return to an earlier section
just to get that secret item that was inaccessible before.
The first person perspective works perfectly as traversing
from platform to platform doesn't require the pixel perfect
timing that some, more frustrating, games demand. It also
makes sure that the camera is never playing catch up which
is a refreshing change in the world of 3D gaming.
All in all, Metroid Prime approaches a perfection
rarely seen in games, the transition from 2D to 3D has been
handled excellently with the third dimension adding more to
the gameplay rather than taking from it. It oozes with so
much addictiveness that the storyline plays second fiddle
and reminds you of a time when gameplay was an integral part
of gaming. Put simply, this is one of the best games I have
played in a long, long time.