Before this, I had very little knowledge about the world of Metroid. It’s my first game of the Metroid series and I’ve only ever used Samus previously in the Super Smash Bros. series. I saw this game as a pre-owned title for a good price and I was in the mood for a new game, so I picked it up remembering the positive views of people at its time of release. Delving into this game, I had very high expectations in due to the high reviews (nine out of ten on average) and the description of it being the best first-person shooter controls ever designed. So how does a game to wrap up a trilogy released later than originally expected size up?
Welcome to the Metroid Universe, you’re about to dock with Battle Ship Olympus for briefing on a current problem after having just watched a cut scene involving some sort of Dark Samus. The overview of the plot is that you and several other bounty hunters have been called upon by Admiral Dane to receive information from the Aurora Unit (242). This unit was saved from the corruption of a deadly virus, of which it asks you to remove from other units in the galaxy. It’s at this point that the ship is attacked and it becomes vital to escape and get to planet Norrion. It’s here that you’ll be first confronted by Dark Samus, who in their attempt to kill you, ends up corrupting your (and the other bounty hunters’) bodies with Phazon. After receiving a PED Suit, you’re sent off to different planets in order to unravel the mysteries and ultimately save the galaxy.
Meet Aurora Unit (242)
Talk about an interesting plot with a good number of twists! It’s good to see an alien-shooter game where it actually has a more solid plot than simply “destroy all the aliens, save everyone”. You’ve got things to figure out all the time, such as what happened to the other bounty hunters and how will the Phazon affect your body. Every place you go there is something new, something to find out and expand your knowledge. This is only furthered by the inclusion of such elements as lore (which I’ll discuss later) and the thirst for knowledge about everything you encounter.
How do those “best first-person shooter” controls stack up? With every button carrying numerous in-game functions and being very comprehensive, I can see how people concluded with such claims. The game employs a good use of both the remote and the nun chuck. Movement is performed via the use of the remote to aim and turn left/right by aiming the cursor to the sides of your helmet and the nun chuck joystick is used to move forward, backward and side-to-side. These movement controls are very reminiscent of the keyboard and mouse combination of a computer. Shooting is done through the A button for the arm cannon and down on the d-pad for missiles. Some people have gripes with the usage of missiles but I find the movement of the thumb up slightly on the remote for your alternative weapon to be simple and easy to get to grips with. The minus button will bring up your visor options, the plus button your Hyper Mode, the 1 button your main menu, the 2 button for hints, the C button for Morph Ball mode and the Z button for your targeting system. All-in-all, every button performs an important function and really makes full use of the Wii controls on offer.
The other way to move around the Metroid universe is through the use of your ship. It allows you to travel quickly from area-to-area, planet-to-planet. Again, it’s very immersive, with many controls featured within the interface. You can check your stats, save your game, travel around, put up a shield etc. In fact, you’re introduced to the ship controls before Samus herself! It allows for easy game back-tracking and general progression.
If only I could speak alien!
The visor option is something you’re going to have to get used to, as you’ll be using it A LOT (note the capital letters to stress the amount of time you’ll be using it, it’s not a joke). This doesn’t become tedious, however, only serving to increase your interests in the game. The Scan Visor is what you’ll be using on a near-constant basis. It allows you to scan structures and creatures, providing hints and interesting information allowing you to progress through the game. Not only that, but anyone who loves to learn everything about something will find themselves scanning every single thing possible in order to learn as much as they can. The game design encourages this compulsive behaviour and it’s just another immersive plus. There’s also the Command Visor, which allows you to send command options to your ship (such as to land in a specific area or perform a bombing run). Then there’s also the X-Ray Visor, the function of which should be obvious. You can even combine a visor and a weapon for a more powerful attack, amazing huh?
So other than knowing how to shoot beams and missiles, how does the combat system work? Well, let me introduce you the lock-on system. The Z button has two different targeting options (which you can toggle in your options) depending your preference. You can choose to either target something and have the cursor focus on it (for people who can’t aim basically) or the free-target aiming which is a great, enjoyable feature. It allows you to lock on to one enemy, but allow you to move your cursor freely so you can shoot multiple targets while keeping a focus, very useful.
Be sure to make use of free aim, it's very useful
Another positive thing about combat in the Metroid universe is there’s always something new, you’re not just spamming the A button at every creature encounter. Some may have a shield you need to yank off first, others may need a shot from a freezing missile. You may need to use Hyper Mode. Heck, you may even have to use the Grapple Lasso to rip alien scum apart! This isn’t even mentioning the bosses, which were designed with the idea in mind of incorporating many of the control functions and forcing you to continually switch up your approach. They also have many tricks up their own sleave, so you’re constantly changing tactics (making for fun thinking in a tense situation).
I hear you saying, but there’s still only a couple of combat options. Never fear! As you play through the game, you’ll unlock new upgrades for Samus (the main ones needed to progress through the game, so you won’t miss them!). Simple ones include a missile expansion pack (allowing you to carry more) and energy tanks (increase your health capacity). Though you can also pick up weapon upgrades such as the ability to freeze things or melt metals. In accordance with the lack of buttons offered by the Wii, you receive compensation by the fact your upgrades come in a stacking system, simply combining with one another as you go. Another cool feature about the suit upgrades is the changing look of Samus, each upgrade performing some alteration to the suit (meaning you only use the original look for a short period of time!) which is not only realistic and a good attention to detail, but a fun thing to witness. These upgrades are vital in order to advance through the game, so you can’t miss them.
Yes, a new upgrade!
With combat and adventure features out of the way, let’s take a look at the puzzles. Think about the game in sections, each section will require you to complete at least one puzzle in order to move on. The puzzles are sometimes very obvious; at other times really obscure (requiring you to scratch your head a little bit in contemplation). Obviously, the Scan Visor is a huge help, but you can’t forget good old Morph Ball mode. Many of the puzzles will require you to travel through small places or create a concussive blast. This is where the C button really comes to the forefront of the gameplay, as you zip and jump around as a little metal ball. Every puzzle is unique, every puzzle is another bit of fun.
What’s Hyper Mode you ask? Now that you’re corrupted by Phazon, the Federation decide to design a PED Suit for you to incorporate into your own, in order to harness and use the new power. Phazon feeds off your energy tanks by injection through the use of the plus button, so you have to be careful. It’ll last a little more than twenty seconds before you find yourself becoming fully corrupted and having to release the pent-up Phazon through weapon spam to avoid being entirely consumed and ultimately, losing the game. It also makes you invincible during the short period of time, with your weapon now doing several times the amount of damage. Don’t be frightened by the prospect though, you will have to use it (whether to get past obstacles, to get out of a tricky situation or defeat an enemy) and at the end of the day, it’s easy enough to use as long as you exercise a degree of caution and know when it’s the right time to use it and for how long.
Another thing you’ll have to get used to with gameplay is the interaction factor. Found a lever which requires you to grab it, pull back, turn it counter-clockwise and then push it back in? Then get ready to press A, pull the remote back toward you, twist it, then push your remote toward the screen again. It’s another immersive factor, allowing you to perform the action as if you’re really there doing it, rather than achieving the same result through a button-mash combination for example. Again, the game creators have shown that they really put a lot of effort into the controls in order to fully show off the capabilities only offered by the Wii.
Now that I pressed this and switched that, I need to activate it through a concussive blast by Morph Ball mode, then I need to...
Now that you know how to get around, do you want to? The answer is a yes and no. Yes you want to see more, but you want to spend some more time with what you can already see too! The graphics are nothing short of amazing for the Wii. There is an artistic style and flair to the game that allow it to avoid the insults thrown around by gamers that Wii games have terrible graphics, especially in comparison to other consoles. You know a Wii game is special when people from other consoles will acknowledge the graphics as good, as well as knocking everything else on the console out of the water. The detail put into every little room, every creature and every dent in a wall is nothing short of incredible. You can even see the process of corruption within Samus through her reflection the visor of the suit! As long as you don’t run right up to and stand in front of a door, you’ll never experience what could be termed as “poor graphics”.
Cutscenes, I love you! This game always keeps them relatively short and to the point. It cleverly uses them to disguise loading times and always, always has a purpose behind them. They pop in now-and-then, never too often. They’re usually rich in detail, really aiding the build-up of the story. I have to say that at the time of typing this review, this game shows the best use of cutscenes I’ve yet to encounter.
And to aid the brilliant graphics comes beautiful music. The soundtrack to this game is so darn good I went and got it so I can listen to it whenever I like (the first time I’ve ever done this, which says something). The music that plays during the main screen after turning the game on is incredibly eerie and powerful, which really does set the scene. Similar music plays during your exploration of Olympus for example, while it’ll change to something melodious while exploring stunning temples. Each song is specifically designed to fit in well with where it comes in, while all managing to retain a tense atmosphere of anticipation. Every track is unique, every track is gorgeous. The combination of perfectly fitting music with wonderful graphics in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption makes for a great mix which works flawlessly.
Meet the Bounty Hunter team!
There isn’t a lot of voice acting in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, but that’s hardly an issue. There is quite a bit at the beginning, as you talk to marines and build up your knowledge of the game (a good inclusion for people new to the series like myself). But other than that, and the occasional contact from Aurora Unit (242), you’re left to the sounds of the music and world around you. Which, for this game, works best. Too much talking would really disrupt the atmosphere they strived so hard to build through the graphics and music. Talking is only incorporated when necessary, and when it is, you’re pleased with the flow.
So what are my final impressions concerning a game in a series I’m new to, made for the Wii though released later than expected? This game is absolutely brilliant, it really delivered on everything it promised (the comprehensive first-person shooter controls for example), carrying a huge amount of replay value, with a good game length (around twenty hours is a decent estimate, you’ll likely spend a lot more to fully enjoy the experience). This game deserves all the praise it received through the reviews of others, showing off what you can do with the Wii if you actually try. With great control design and great artistic style allowing it to avoid graphic-based complaints, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is a game worthy of any Metroid or first-person shooter fan and anyone with a Wii should buy it right away, you will not be disappointed to have this game in your library.