Metroid Prime
Game Info
Platform(s)
GameCube
Publisher
Nintendo
Developer
Retro Studios
Genre
First Person Adventure
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Absorbing, compelling, gaming perfection

The Bad

• N/A

 
Grade
A+

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.

- - Samanosuke

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