Metroid – a Nintendo franchise dating back to the NES days has an addition to the ever-growing series: Metroid Prime. The details were laid out bluntly: this game was going to be in 3d, unlike earlier Metroid games. Well, what do diehard fans say to this? Usually, they will defy change to something that they love so very much. In this case, the change was exceptionally well done, despite all of the negative predictions. It is true; Metroid Prime still contains the same feel and concept as earlier games, even with it being three-dimensional. It is just like the earlier games (e.g. exploration, suit upgrades, kill bosses using strategy) but with a whole new twist.
To those that are new to the series: don’t worry about playing the earlier Metroid games, this game really does not prerequisite you knowing anything at all about Metroid or its history. But those individuals that have played earlier Metroid games will be pleasantly surprised at how neatly and thoroughly the details were carved using early Metroid concept art for reference.
Gameplay: How much has the gameplay changed since the early Metroid? To put it simply: Metroid Prime is exactly like its relatives in gameplay, excluding the fact that it is in 3d. Making the transition to 3d immediately adds new complexity and interest to the series.
Often when games go 3d they also go through a completely different control scheme, and many times just learning the controls is a burden all by itself, but not in Metroid Prime. Controls are wonderful and fit perfectly to the game. Console fans usually stay away from FPS (First Person Shooters) because of the cumbersome controls, but this game is really not an FPS, and instead, I like to think of it as a First Person Adventure. The objective in this game is not to see who can aim the finest and kill the fastest but is about exploring and having fun while doing so.
Metroid Prime features a unique and much-needed targeting system that will lock onto (by holding down L trigger) enemies and leave you free to strafe and shoot.
A typical Metroid Prime sitting is very balanced in gameplay. You walk into a room and explore; you find many paths. You find that one of the locations is obscured and you cannot continue by taking that course, so you go through another path and work your way, in anticipation of finding whatever suit upgrade may be waiting for you. Once you obtain that upgrade you will retrace your steps and walk through that location that was once impossible to reach. Usually beyond that hard to reach location waiting for you will be a boss. I will mention that bosses in this game are very well designed. You will use your scan visor and scan them for their weakness or sweet spot. It may take several attempts to overcome a boss but once you adapt your strategy you will defeat the boss.
Gameplay is simply perfect because of its reward system and its way of keeping you on your toes and yet not sweeping you off your feet.
Graphics: Graphics are very well done. Objects look fantastic and the enemies themselves are stunning. If you decide to go for a swim, upon ascending you will have water all over your screen that will eventually drip down and disappear. Walking through hot areas will cover your visor with steam. Seeing Samus’ reflection in your visor will leave you in awe. Many small details will surprise you and quickly you will learn that this game is eye candy.
Sound: What would this game be without great sound? Still a good game, in my opinion. Fortunately, this game has exciting music and realistic sound effects.
Music is top notch. Most players will be surprised to take notice of that music is entirely composed of MIDI instructions, nevertheless, it sounds handcrafted and life-like. The advantage the developers have with using MIDI is being able to change tones, instruments, and tempos very easily. Walking through a very peaceful and serene scene you will hear music that will lull you and add to the atmosphere but once an enemy will approach you the music will transition to an ominous, threatening tone. The music will encourage you and keep you fighting.
Sound effects are fine, too. From the sound of hot lava murmuring in caves to water splashing, the effects are superb.
Final Word: Not buying this game would be missing out on a very good experience. With 20 or more hours of gameplay, this game is semi-epic and a good choice for players who enjoy puzzles with a robust mix of action.