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Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

 

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

ESRB: Teen - T
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Category: First Person Shooter
 
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Author:

Developer - Retro Studios
Publisher - Nintendo

Features

- 1 Player
- WiiConnect24 Support
- 480p (EDTV)
- 16x9 Widescreen

Nintendo finally brings Metroid Prime to an end with the release of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. The series, which was started on the GameCube, brought the Metroid world into the realm of 3D around five years ago. Many pundits were worried that the transition from a 2D shooter to a 3D first person shooter would ruin a great series, but the first two games were a success and developer Retro Studios managed to keep the Metroid name in a positive light. Their latest release, Corruption, is the final chapter of the Prime storyline. I have to say that saving the last chapter for the Wii was one of the best things that Nintendo and Retro Studios could have ever done as it is truly a polished affair that makes the last game in the series one worth playing.

Graphics

Before I address this section of the review I would like to step on my soapbox for a short bit and preach some of my beliefs. Now many people think that games should be reviewed equally against games on other systems. Therefore, a game on the Wii should be equally weighed against a game on either the PS3 or Xbox 360 and vice-a-versa. I don’t think this is 100% fair, especially when looking at the games on the Wii. There is no doubt that the Wii is an underpowered machine when compared to the high definition powerhouses of the 360 and PS3. That being said, I do take into consideration that the Wii is not as powerful as other existing next-generation systems, although it is more powerful then the GameCube.

Ok, now that I have preached a bit I have to say that Corruption is by far none one of the best looking games to grace the Wii to date. And when I say "the best", I just don't mean polygons and special effects, but I also mean level and art design too. Corruption's visuals as a whole are, for the lack of a better word, stunning. And to put my view into further perspective, I would say it looks better then some of the other next generation systems first person shooters out there. Let me explain.

The graphics engine that Retro Studios has employed is quite impressive. Corruption runs in progressive scan mode as well as in widescreen mode. I played my review copy on a 42-inch Sharp Aquos T.V. and I did note some tiny black borders down the side, however they were very small. As would be expected in a quality shooter, Corruption utilizes a full gamut of special effects (e.g. particle lighting, bloom lighting, etc) to really set the mood of the game's levels and battles. Along with the really noticeable stuff (e.g. explosions or laser blasts) there are also a lot of little details too. For example, the first time I accessed the scanning mode of my visor I noticed the reflection of Samus' face on the inside of the visor. I was even more amazed in how her eyes would turn to the left or right when I was moving in a specific direction. It was this level of visual detail that really hit home the work that went into this game. Corruption also runs at a rock solid framerate with nary a hiccup in sight. This caught me somewhat off guard as I wholly expected some graphical hiccups given the amount of detail on screen when fighting some of the hordes of enemies, but this was not found and it was once in a blue moon that any kind of hiccup was to be found.

So technically the game's graphics are good, but the level's themselves are also quite amazing and deserve their own mention. All the levels are quite large. The draw distance is quite impressive too and levels don't lose a lot of detail no matter where you are looking, be it close up or far in the distance. Each level manages to have crisp textures, moody colors that suit each level, and backgrounds brimming with detail. Each level that I played did not have any of the previous level's feel that was before it as each one looked different, played different and felt different. There was no recycling of textures, art, or design. This is where Retro Studios really seems to have upped the ante in this final chapter of the series.

If there is any negative in this area it would have to be that the game hides loading times via the great looking cut-scenes or when you go through a door. The cut-scenes themselves were not particularly problematic as you get to watch the story unfold in front of you. Where I was somewhat disappointed was when I had to enter a door and there was a noticeable delay in the actual door opening as the next part of the level loaded up. This happened on more then one occasion and it was really more of an annoyance as opposed to a deal breaker. Overall there is a lot to like in the visuals of this game and I really hope that this is an early indicator of what the Wii can do, because if it is, then I have some high hopes for the future of the visuals that the system is capable of.

Sound

Along with the great visuals, Corruption's sound is also a highlight of this game. Everything from the voice acting, the music to the sound effects is wrapped up into one quality audio package. Nintendo made the decision to include quite a lot of voice acting in this final chapter of this series. This was evident from the get-go as you meet the ships staff, commander and other bounty hunters. The voice acting attached to each character is great quality and the lines don't seem cheesy at all. Minor characters (e.g. ships helmsman, maintenance staff, etc) do start to repeat their lines but I found that hearing the other characters, particularly the other bounty hunters and the ships Aurora Unit (computer), really did add to the overall feeling of the story playing out in front of me.

The soundtrack that is included in Corruption really matches the overall feel of the game. Each track is able to match the mood of each level in a perfect sense. I found that as I ventured across various planets environments that the music blended in so nicely that I actually turned up the volume to enjoy it, and this was on more then one occasion. Now I have to be honest and let you know that I am not a true Metroid nut. That being said, I have talked to various online friends of mine, via forums, who are such nuts. I asked them to comment on the music and a few of them said that some of the music is reminiscent of Metroid games of past, including remixes of past music. It is clear that Retro Studios has taken the time to pay honor to the fans that have played any of the games in the past and managed to hit the right 'chord' so to speak.

Finally the sound effects are the final compliment to the sound in corruption. As this is a space shooter, the use of lasers, futuristic gadgets (e.g. grapple lasso), and space ships with rockets all sound sci-fi like but yet they have the uncanny ability to sound like you would imagine it to be. Along with the aforementioned effects, each level has a diverse set of enemies that also have their own sound too allowing for variety on each planet you venture to. Overall Corruption makes great use of sound on every different level that you can think of and this further makes Corruption that more of an enjoyable experience.

Gameplay

I should take some time to quickly explain what the Metroid Prim series is about, and this is particularly important for those who have never played any of the previous games. The first two chapters, and this latest chapter, have you playing the role of Samus Aran, an armor wearing bounty hunter. This character has been the stoic heroine since day one of all games Metroid which have spanned across many of Nintendo's consoles. The series was finally brought to 3D life via the first chapter of the Metroid Prime series around 5 years ago. Throughout the first two chapters Samus has been contracted by the galactic Federation to do battle with Space Pirates, who are an evil race of aliens obsessed with ruling the galaxy. Each chapter up to this one (number three) has had Samus traversing across the galaxy to various planets doing battle with the evil Space Pirates. During each story you are charged with upgrading Samus' suit, battling enemies, and solving environmental puzzles throughout each locale you explore.

The latest and final chapter in this series has you playing the role of Samus once again. You awake from a cryogenic sleep and land on the Starship Olympus. You have been summoned to the ship, along with other bounty hunters, and learn that the ships Aurora Unit, an organic super-computer, has been infected with a virus along with the rest of fleets other organic super-computers. The Aurora Unit was lucky and was able to eradicate the virus that affected it, and it now assists you in your adventure which includes such things, but not limited to, discovering how the virus got into the federation network and helping to eradicate the virus in other organic super-computers that control the Federation's network. Retro Studios has done a pretty good job at making the story somewhat important as it is fairly engaging and it is told via some great cut-scenes and good voice acting.

Once you start your adventure you are given a limited, but useful, set of abilities to assist you in your quest. As you venture through the game you will upgrade the abilities of your suit as you go through some of the levels. Interestingly enough there are areas in some levels that you will not be able access until you come across an eventual upgrade later on. At that time you will come back to those areas once your suit is capable of allowing you to do that certain 'thing'. I found that I looked forward to coming back to these areas as I wanted to see what I was missing earlier on and how my suits upgrades allowed me to access earlier areas or items. Of course your increased abilities also allow you to become more effective against your enemy foes and as you upgrade your suit enemies become more diverse too. It is somewhat fun not only to take out enemies in different ways, but to see how you do need your suit upgrades to take out the enemies further into the game.

As the Wii has been given innovative control abilities via the Wii remote and the nunchuk, I was somewhat intrigued to see how Retro Studios would implement control in the game. Well after playing Corruption for quite sometime I would have to say that this is one of the best controlling games on the Wii and one of the better controlling first person shooter games period. Corruption really shows how to use the Wii remote and nunchuk control scheme to perfection, especially in an fps, including using many motion sensing capabilities. Controlling Samus has never been this easy or fluid. You use the Wii remote to look up, down, left and right while you use the nunchuk's analog control to move or strafe. Firing is assigned to the A button, jumping is assigned to the B button, while target locking is assigned to the Z button. All of this is really quite intuitive. Not to stop there, Corruption also uses many of the motion sensing capabilities of the controllers. For example, to twist locking systems you actually use the Wii remote to pull back, twist in the noted direction, and then push forward. This is so simple but yet further allows you to feel like you are in the game. The nunchuk's motion sensing is also utilized too. Here you use Samus' Grapple Lasso. You first lock onto the item or enemy with the Z button, then snap the nunchuk forward. Once you grab a hold of the item or enemy on screen you then snap the nunchuk back. Again, so simple but yet so effective.

Retro Studios has even utilized the motion sensing to also allow for the lack of buttons some complain that the Wii controllers have. With so many major buttons being assigned to the basic controls, Retro Studios was creative to allow for further features. Take the visor selection or views for instance. To allow multiple visor views you only need press and hold the minus button and then move the Wii remote up, left or right to select one of the different views. Once again, it is so simple but yet so effective. It is my hope that other developers can take a cue from Corruption's control scheme and that future first person shooters control as well at this game.

Metroid Prime games have been a mix of experiences, from shooting and disposing of enemies to solving environmental puzzles in an effort at getting from point A to point B and even to point C. Corruption keeps this style of play and offers up some pretty good environmental puzzles. You will find that you have to utilize your suits capabilities on many occasions, be it the Grapple Lasso, Hyper Mode, morphball or the X-Ray Visor to name a few. You will have to find hidden items and hidden paths and even use your suits capabilities to access specific areas. Bottom-line, Corruption will not only challenge your shooting skills with lots of enemy action, but your exploration and puzzle solving skills as well.

New to the series is the 3D map that is visible in the top right hand corner of the screen. Previous games had you loading up a map screen during gameplay. This time the map is visible in your visor at all times. Should you desire a full screen view you can still load up the map for much larger view. Also new to the map is the ability to bookmark specific locations. By doing this you change the color of a specific part of the map. This is somewhat useful as once I came to that area the color of the map was changed on the viewable map in the visor.

In terms of playability the game can last anywhere from 20 hours and up and is really dictated on your skill level, as well as how much you choose to actually do during your first time going through. There are two skill levels to choose from at the start of the game: normal or veteran. Once you complete the game on any of these levels you will unlock a third, and somewhat crazy skill level known as hyper difficulty. This level really does ramp up the difficulty. Should you just run through the game during your first time through will not finish the game at 100%. As you venture through you must scan all the items and find bonus pick-ups (e.g. once you destroy creates) to get the higher completion ratings.

During gameplay you are awarded various medals for successfully performing various tasks. These range from such things as killing a certain number of enemies to scanning specific creatures. These medals can be taken to an extras menu where they can be used to purchase special additions such as a bobblehead for Samus' cockpit or bumper stickers for the outside of the ship. As well, you can get a screenshot tool that allows you to take pictures in-game and send them to your friends over WiiConnect24. There are other features on top of these that you can get with the medals and Corruption's addition of such an award system actually allows for some sort of incentive to play with the intention of trying to earn as much as you can.

If it sounds like I am gushing over this game I am. And although I have nothing but praise for Corruption, there is one glaring negative that I have to mention, and that is the lack of any multiplayer support. In an age where first person shooters really do rule the multiplayer arena, the lack of such an addition to Corruption is the only glaring omission in this game. We know that the Wii is capable of online gaming, as evident in Mario Strikers Charged, but for some reason there is no such option in Corruption. I hope that if we ever see another Metroid game of any nature in the future, that an online mode is fully supported.


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