REVIEWS -- Metroid Prime Trilogy -- Wii
Metroid Prime Trilogy: one of the best deals you can get on any system
by Shaan Ali Khan
Fun factor: Fun
Worth to: Buy
While not offering much for veterans, if you havenít experienced the Prime games before, this compilation is an outright steal and you owe it to yourself to play it.
When the Gamecube launched, people were completely skeptical that Retro Studios, a largely unknown studio in Texas, was taking the reins of the Metroid franchise, a beloved series that missed the entire N64 generation. The doubt grew when they heard this revival was going to be taken into the first-person perspective. But once the game launched, Metroid Prime was hailed by both fans and critics as not only an amazing entry into the franchise (if not the best) but also as one of the best games ever made. Not only did it feature a very unique control scheme, it also invented an entire genre: the first-person adventure. Despite the perspective, the game maintained Metroidís classic gameplay, tying exploration and action together almost seamlessly.
Two years later, a sequel was launched: Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. Finally, on the Wii, the Prime trilogy was closed with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. The game featured a brand new control scheme for the Wii, and it was the first first-person game to nail shooter control for the system. Well, Nintendo has decided to rerelease all three games on their little white console as the Metroid Prime Trilogy. Not only have the first two entries received the Corruption-treatment in how they control, youíre also getting a pretty sexy-looking tin case, a small art book, and all three of these award-winning entries on one disc for the price of one game. Needless to say, this is a pretty awesome deal.
A fresh perspective
The Metroid franchise has you playing as Samus Aran, an intergalactic bounty hunter (and a pioneer for heroines in videogames by the way...), armed with numerous abilities, traversing from planet to planet. In Trilogy, youíll see her face-off against space pirates, the parasitic organisms known as Metroids, and her evil doppelganger, Dark Samus. The way these three games connect with one another is great, and the level of quality for the most part remains constant throughout.
It should be noted that I never played the first two Prime games. The old Gamecube control scheme didnít feel very good to me, and as a result, I was turned off. Finally, after playing with the Wii controls of Corruption, I knew this was a series I could get into. So as a result, consider these bite-sized reviews on the first two games to be first impressions unaffected by nostalgia.
The first Metroid Prime is simply put, an excellent game. To be brief, Prime is pretty much the purest adaptation of the Super Metroid formula translated into 3D out of all of the games. If you want to know what Metroid is about, this is the most straightforward example. While on Tallon IV, Samus has to prevent the villainous Space Pirates from conducting some sort of bizarre experiment involving a strange meteorite. In standard Metroid formula, you will have a small handful of abilities from the start of the game, and youíll traverse through an open-world with many blocked off areas that you will be able to access as you gain new skills.
Storytelling in Prime isnít so much handled through dialogue and cutscenes, but instead as you traverse through the ruins of the Chozo, a long-lost civilization. You are able to scan bits and pieces of history from tapestries and carvings, describing just what happened. Itís a very passive form of explanation, but itís certainly unique, and sort of refreshing in its approach. Scanning also plays into the general gameplay as you can scan notable objects for descriptions, or even scan enemies to reveal just how to defeat them. Itís a pretty addictive mechanic, and you will find yourself scanning just about everything in sight to fill-up your database.
Throughout the game, you see some interesting locales, from fiery pits to icy cliff-sides, and the adventure has a great sense of scale. It really feels awesome reaching a high peak and being able to see miles away to a mountain range, or to an entire area that youíll want to explore. Despite being eight years old, the visuals donít feel dated. This is largely thanks to the excellent art-design of Retro Studios. My only real complaint is that the game can feel a bit too open-ended for people who donít know what theyíre getting into. A bit more direction would have been preferred, but nevertheless, itís an amazing piece of work.
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
Echoes is the weakest of the three. Gameplay-wise, Prime 2 isnít terribly different from the first game. In fact, itís near identical. Youíre still solving puzzles, taking out small groups of enemies at a time, and gaining new abilities to unlock new areas. After being tasked to rescue a squad of Galactic Federation Marines, Samus finds herself on the planet Aether that has been split between two realms -- the light world, and dark world. This isnít a very alien concept, especially to Nintendo. You basically have to traverse through the light world and dark world, finding ways to affect one another. Largely this means traversing through many of the same areas twice. The game also has a bit of a sharper level of difficulty, but from what Iíve heard from veterans, they game is a bit easier this time around than its original release. I donít mind a solid level of difficulty, but I can imagine some people getting a little more frustrated here.
Visually, the game improves over the first game in many artistic areas. The light world feels very vibrant, filled with life, and natural, whereas the dark world feels incredibly barren and twisted. The game does a lot more with geometry and architecture, and ultimately, itís a bit more interesting to look at. The Ing, the antagonists of the game, look particularly ghastly. All-in-all, this is a much better looking game, while still keeping in line with what the first one tried to do.
While Prime 2 is my least-favorite of the three, I still came away feeling it was a solid game. The dark world can feel a bit tedious to go through, but it wasnít terribly hard to work through it. However, itís still a solid entry. It definitely has a bit more of a cinematic feel than the first game with a few more little cutscenes here and there. Just go in expecting a notable bit more of backtracking.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
When the Galactic Federation hires Samus and three other bounty hunters to protect an enormous, biological supercomputer, things obviously go terribly wrong, and Samus faces a whole new threat. Right from the start, you will notice that Samus doesnít lose a whole bunch of her abilities yet again like in previous games. She starts off with the Morph Ball, the Double Jump, the Charge Beam, and she keeps them. She just gets tougher from there. Already, you can tell Retro has certainly taken notice as to some pacing issues that may have kept people away from Metroid in the past.
The game is a bit more straight-forward this time around, though. While still exploration-heavy, and involving a lot of environmental puzzles, you will notice that the game has a greater focus on action and cinematics. If anything, it just balances the game out a bit more, and it keeps things much more exciting. This certainly pertains to the boss battles which are much more epic than before. But while Retro has largely noticed that there were pacing issues, thereís this one out-of-nowhere fetch quest that the game asks you to go on literally right before you go to face the climax of the game. It makes no sense, but itís there, and it feels out of place.
This time around, Samus is equipped with a PED, a device that essentially powers her up with this Phazon energy, making her a super-badass for a short period of time. But to keep in-line with the title, other soldiers using this experimental technology are finding themselves losing control, and Samus herself finds that this energy might be taking over. On occasion, in combat you will start overloading, and you will need to completely deplete your Phazon energy, otherwise it spells certain doom for you. Itís a neat mechanic, and it helps separate this game from the other two.
The gameís art direction has only continued to top its previous entries. Environments are much more detailed, and much more open. There are some incredibly diverse locales, from angular Federation corridors, to lush jungles. Itís gorgeous, and the look nails the feel all the way through. Not to mention there are some great effects here and there, and some fantastic design decisions. The entire experience just feels more streamlined and polished than the previous two games. Being able to hop around quickly thanks to your ship, the on-screen mini-map, the greater emphasis on action; it ultimately just feels more welcoming to those that arenít fans of Metroidís generally slow pace. I have to say, Corruption came away as my favorite of the three, and it really nails its epic feel. It closes the trilogy well, and itís worth working to.
New to Prime? Buy it, plain and simple
Ultimately, all three games are absolutely solid. I donít think I need to stress that anymore. Playing through all three really just makes you realize how and why this series is so special (well... letís be honest, not so much Echoes...). The amazing level of polish, the deep gameplay, the absolutely fantastic sense of immersion and atmosphere are near flawless. But thereís one thing you realize coming away from this adventure: all three of these games feel quite similar.
These were 20+ hour games on their own, and they were released as stand-alone products. They werenít intended to be played consecutively. While they are absolutely fantastic, I absolutely recommend you take a break in-between all three or youíll just get fatigued. These are largely very slow-moving games, and youíll want a breather. Read a book, see some friends, plot your revenge against your childhood bully (or maybe thatís just what I do...). Youíre also getting MP2ís four-player split-screen multiplayer mode. While thatís cool on paper, itís certainly very, very forgettable. And the fact that thereís no online support for such a feature just makes it a throwaway. Nevertheless, youíre certainly getting your bang for your buck here.
All three games look absolutely gorgeous. The added 16:9 presentation to the first two games is a nice touch for certain. The first Prime game has received a bump in its looks thanks to the addition of bloom lighting, and there are sharper textures all-around. The art design holds up, even as late as eight years later. Corruption is pretty much the epitome of artistic design out of the three, but all three are really quite gorgeous. All three games have very atmospheric music -- subtle and haunting, fitting the environments perfectly. It also should be noted that load times are shortened as well. There are some truly impressible and immersive alien worlds to explore, and all three games have a great sense of isolation and atmosphere. They are almost a bit spooky when playing by yourself... at night... with the lights off... and thereís lightning... shut up.
And thereís moreÖ
Another improvement is that the online achievements system from Corruption is back and this time covers all three games. While it doesnít sound like much, being able to swap ďfriend vouchersĒ with those on your Wii Address Book is a neat feature for unlocking stuff. The game also offers very slick menus that are really easy to navigate. Itís very well put together and accessible.
Obviously, the addition to the Wii releases of the first two games is that they now have Wii-remote/nunchuck support, and they work really well. The controls in Corruption were slick, fast, and allowed for a great deal of accuracy and precision. While not offering nearly as much customization as The Conduit, and feeling pretty stiff in comparison, the games still really benefit from the improved control-input. I mean the old control scheme was just terrible *shivers*. But I definitely suggest playing on the ĎAdvancedí control setting. It feels much faster and tighter.
But my big complaint is this: these are old games. All three of these are excellent. Theyíre solid. $50 for one of the greatest deals on the system? Hell yeah! But if youíre someone thatís already experienced these games, thereís really no reason to come back here (unless you want the convenience of having all three on one disc). There are no added rooms, no truly notable enhancements, nothing. This is still an unbelievable value, to be sure. But unless you really feel the need to go back and play these, or want this on your shelf, thereís nothing youíre really missing out on.
Metroid Prime Trilogy is a near faultless compilation, and if youíve missed out on the Prime games, or you really want to go back to them, this is the way to do it. The controls and the atmosphere of incredibly seamless worlds are some of the best you can experience. And to top it all off, at $49.99, itís an unbelievable deal. I am saddened that thereís no new content for veterans, or that thereís no added voicework or anything of the sort. But still, for how much youíre getting on a single disc, itís hard to complain too much. To put it simply, Metroid Prime Trilogy is some of the best adventuring you can get, and if you want a deep experience you can really invest yourself in, this should be near the top of your list.
Developer: Retro Studios
Release Date: August 24, 2009
Review Date: 05-09-2009
Numbers of Players: 1-4
Players Online: No
Gorgeous art design, even amongst the older two games. Improved load times, and some truly awesome effects. The sense of atmosphere is incredible.
As standalone games, these are amazing adventures. But they can feel too similar if you play them back to back. Echoesí level of backtracking is a bit excessive.
An incredibly atmospheric experience, and an interestingly passive take on storytelling. The level of detail is excellent throughout.
Very hauntingly subtle music that fits the atmosphere perfectly. No added voice-work to the first two games, unfortunately.
Despite the somewhat throwaway splitscreen multiplayer, each game will last you roughly 20+ hours. Not only that, but these games are absolutely incredible. Youíre getting plenty of bang for your buck.