'Metroid Prime' (GCN) Review

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Daemon Poster
Metroid Prime
Platform: GCN
Developer: Retro Studios
Publisher: Nintendo
ESRB rating: Teen
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

When first shown, "Metroid Prime" drew heavy skepticism because of the placement of the camera. By setting the player's perspective from Samus's visor, developer Retro Studios challenged gamers' views of what constitutes a "Metroid" title. "Extended Play" takes a look at "Metroid Prime" to determine if Retro Studios' could pull off this daring perspective shift.

Taking place just after the events of the first "Metroid", the game begins with bounty hunter Samus Aran responding to a distress call from Tallon IV. Upon arrival, Miss Aran soon discovers that Space Pirates have been
conducting experiments on the planet, and sets out to thwart their efforts. The game's story will take players through every environment Tallon IV has to offer, while revealing much about the Chozo and the Space Pirates, as well as Samus's origins.

Scan everything

Players are given a scan visor, among other settings, that is primarily used to deliver information. You can scan almost everything in the game, from enemies (revealing weaknesses) to plants (revealing natural history) to ruins (revealing the secrets of past civilizations). Because scanning is rarely required, the depth of the story can be easily overlooked. However, those with a thirst for knowledge will receive the entire history of several societies as well as an answer to the question "why are we here?"

What the game isn't

Do not let the looks of the game fool you, "Metroid Prime" is not a first-person shooter. Although it seems logical to pass off Nintendo's moniker of "first person adventure" as nothing more than a marketing ploy, after a short time in the varia suit, it's obvious that "Metroid Prime" cannot be classified with other FPS titles.

Most noticeably different is the inclusion of a Zelda-style lock-on feature. This makes the game feel much like an adventure game played from a first-person perspective. Because of the unfamiliar control scheme, the game does have a bit of a learning curve. Players used to being able to circle-strafe can feel restricted at first, but should soon feel at home with the controls. When focused, it's easy to get Samus to perform some impressive maneuvers, but loss of concentration can make the complexity of control feel almost overwhelming.

Labyrinthine levels

As in past "Metroid" titles, exploration is emphasized. While combat is frequent, it's rarely mandatory. Players will find more satisfaction in opening new areas of the game than in defeating new foes. With the various levels so intertwined, it may be easy to become lost, however Retro Studios has included an optional hint option (turned on by default) that gives the player a nudge in the right direction. Continually working towards discovering a new pathway, or using a new ability to reach a previously unreachable ledge makes "Metroid Prime" fit comfortably into the established series.

Retro Studios has set a new standard with its impressive level design. Every area has its own unique presence, yet all are definitely part of the same world. Initial ventures into the lands will have players traveling complex paths in order to progress, but the game's level design cannot be appreciated until later. After gaining new abilities, paths through levels suddenly begin to simplify. More and more shortcuts present themselves, depending on which power ups have been found.

Never gets old

A variety of weapons, visors, and morph-ball techniques ensure the game never feels tedious, despite the over 20 hours of play involved in completion. Also preventing boredom are the gorgeous visuals. Lush environments are filled with detail from climbing vines to gentle flurries of dust. The scenery also plays host to a staggering number of animals, not all of which are aggressive. Character models are solid and dramatically animated. Every creature moves organically, and even the menacing stalk of a stealth space pirate demands admiration. Lighting and particle effects are the perfect finishing touch on the worlds, with rain, snow, and wind all beautifully depicted.

All of this complex beauty is seen through an active visor display. You find several visor types throughout the game, with each visor providing a unique HUD (Head-Up Display). Most impressive is that everything on the HUDs is useful. Maps, radars, weapon statistics, and level information are all usable, even in the midst of battle. Because of this, the illusion of having a functional visor is far more believable. Small details, such as condensation of steam, or the smattering of rainfall on the visor just emphasize the effect.

"Metroid Prime" is an aural delight. Using Dolby Pro-Logic II, the game surrounds players with engaging compositions (some using classic "Metroid" themes) and crisp sound effects. The alarming buzz of war wasps can instill a sense of urgency from any side, at least until the splash of your wave cannon silences the insects. Every sound in the game just adds to the experience, and you will become adept at identifying dangers using only subtle sound cues.

Retro Studios has brought "Metroid" into 3D gaming with such perfection, that it's hard to understand why there was ever any resistance to the concept. Although some may find the controls to be unfamiliar, once mastered, they work flawlessly. A welcome addition to the series, it's difficult to find any shortcomings in the title.

I give "Metroid Prime" a perfect 5 out of 5.
Metroid Prime is great I have to agree. Its pretty difficult as well though and really makes you work for it.
If I had to vote for my favorite Next gen console game. This is it.

A complete masterpiece.
I had by doubts at first, when the usual classic Metroid game was going to be molded into an FPS - but after playing through it, that proved me wrong; very nice and smooth gameplay, which hasn't stopped me from playing yet. :)
Thats exactly what I said in my review only its like 1/20 the length. Nice Job GeForce. Hehe.
yah, its reviews from the extended play website. I didn't write them. thats why it says extended play!!!
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