Thunderchin's Honest Review of Metroid Prime

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Thunderchin

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Thunderchin's Honest Review of Metroid Prime

Postby Thunderchin » 11.05.11 2:10am

A Journalistic Review of Metroid Prime (Gamecube)

By: Joseph “Thunderchin” Stuewe


Somewhere out there in the vast nothingness of space
Somewhere far away in space and time
Staring upward at the gleaming stars in the obsidian sky
We're marooned on a small island in an endless sea
Confined to a tiny spit of sand unable to escape
But tonight, on this small planet...on Earth
We're going to rock civilization...

-Pendulum, “Prelude/Slam


Ah, Metroid Prime. What do I have to say for such a unique game as this? Well, after I booted it up recently for the first time in what seems like an eternity (but was really only about three months), I actually have a lot to say about it. I do have an extensive background with this game, and there is a slight emotional bond that exists between me and it. (It helps that back in 2002, when I first started playing video games, that this was one of my very first. Thanks, Dad.)

But after three months, I can safely say that this review can completely negate that bond and focus on my honest opinions. Those three months were some of my busiest in my life, centered around my trusty laptop and its ability to churn out quite a lot of work. What time I DID have for games, I just played a PC game (Steam, thank you), and I really got adjusted to them. So coming back to this was a bit jarring.

I'm glad I came back to it though, as I have a lot more experience now to compare it to, and it is still one of my personal favorites of all time.

From the moment you boot it up, whether you're a grizzled veteran or complete rookie, you can't help but notice the distinct atmosphere the game world projects. Watching the opening title sequence really starts it off well. After the opening three lines of text explaining why you're here, it goes to a field of stars. It's nearly silent here, the soundtrack helping reinforce that “all alone” feeling it's putting across. After a brief meteor shower sequence on the planet that comes into view, you see a massive ship come into view...and after the camera pans and tracks across it, you see another, MUCH smaller ship. The music crescendos at this point, and soon after a sequence where the small ship pulls up alongside the larger, you see our heroine (Samus Aran) leap out and land on its deck, and then you're put behind the visor of her Power Suit.

Way to go, Retro. Now THAT is how you kick off a game. But what happens afterward is even more remarkable. After this sequence, there's no in-game tutorial! Except for the brief Visor notifications reminding you that the R button is free-aim and B jumps, and Left on the Control Pad is Scan Visor, it doesn't get in your way at all. In fact, if you do it quickly enough they won't pop up at all! You're basically left to figure out everything yourself. No narrator, no game-interrupting tutorial windows. It's just you and the Power Suit.

After a brief exploration of the ship, which after an introductory boss fight ends in a frantic escape sequence (good ol' Metroid for ya), again with fitting soundtrack that really frays your nerves as you're fighting enemies and taking ventilation shafts around obstacles, Samus will fly down onto the planet in pursuit of a re-appeared old enemy. Of course you can't pursue Ridley forever...so you land in a random field and pop out of that ship.

From here on, it's up to you. You decide where you want to go, you explore your environments, you figure out the path to victory. It's filled with old enemies, new enemies, and many a smorsgabord of items. It's done really well, and is really immersive. I actually had to unplug the phones in the house to play this game because every time someone tried to call it actually felt kind of jarring. If you ever decide to play this game, which I highly recommend, play it in the dark with the volume turned all the way up.

The audio and the video are excellent, both separately and in tandem. Nintendo actually released a soundtrack album for this game, and each track kicks ass stand-alone. The visuals take a bit more appreciation skill to really grasp, though. The graphics are very nice...for their time! Remember this is a 2002 game, they didn't have some of the fancy new stuff we have now, almost a decade later. For the time, they are high quality and very well presented. And this is a GAMECUBE game to boot! The graphics quality, however low they may seem now, does not impact the visuals in any way. Retro understands, and quite well I might add, that graphics quality doesn't mean shit without great art design. The art design really is spectacular, and it really reinforces the game's deep, dark, lonely atmosphere. It looks and feels like you're actually there, fending off Space Pirates and trying to repulse an unknown evil. It holds up even a decade after its release; despite some graphical advancements in that time, I can say that this game has some of the best visuals ever.

The combination, though, is really where they all shine. Combining the wonderful visuals with the stunning soundtrack and the masterfully-produced SFX makes a whole other type of gaming experience. It envelops you, immerses you, totally engulfs you in its beauty. The soundtrack is awesome enough to be noticed (more than once I have had to be reminded not to hum to the tune), but it fits the visuals enough for you to willingly suspend your disbelief that there is a soundtrack in the first place. The audiovisuals are so well married together that it's hard to imagine one without the other, and that marriage makes them double trouble when they pull you in. The presentation style of the game takes further advantage of this addiction. Not wanting to break the immersion factor, the developers decided to take you out of your normal first-person viewpoint only when absolutely necessary. It further adds to the illusion that you really are Samus Aran, exploring this vast unknown land, fighting these enemies, discovering what is really going on.

The game has the player hooked, and keeps him hooked with a vast, growing conspiracy plot. Sharp-eyed players with a quick mind will notice things placed in the environment of the game. The first-person aspect of the gameplay comes into play here once again, this time granting you the ability to “scan” these objects, creatures, and various other things placed around the planet, downloading information about them and storing them in a “Log Book” that can be studied in the Pause Menu. How much of the plot, and creature data too, you accumulate in here is up to you. There are rewards for getting certain amounts of this information, and it really changes the pace of the gameplay. Instead of being entirely action-driven, this encourages the player to slow down, take a good look at the surroundings, and it brings the pacing back down to what the original Metroid games had. This, and the gripping nature of this game, are what truly make it a worthy Metroid title. It could be said that this game comes to the same conclusion as its forebears, but does so through a radically different means.

But there is one barrier to complete immersion. Normally, in a game you can get the controls down and they become second nature. You don't have to think about them, you just press the button combinations and move the sticks and the game truly meshes with you at least in the interface department. Well, Metroid Prime fails to do that. You could be fully pulled into the game world, marveling at your surroundings, and the setting blends in with your imagination perfectly in the wonderous meshing of man and machine that is video gaming...wait, how do I aim again? Yes, that's right, the controls are not natural at all, and they suck. Worse, those are the only controls you get, so we're stuck with holding R and using the Control Stick to aim, locking movement all the while. Holding L will give you full movement and strafing, but now you can't aim! Unless you're facing an enemy, at which point you'll “lock on” to that target and automatically aim at him. That lock-on is simply a work of genius, and I love it. It makes circle strafing easier, but it fails to compensate for enemy movement. You know when you, in real life, go shooting, you aim ahead of a moving target? So your bullet intercepts where they will be? Well, Samus apparently can't do that, so it really is ineffective against fast moving targets. So, the lack of aiming and moving at the same time is really a problem, especially when platforming. I sometimes find it difficult to land platforming jumps with these controls. And they seriously should have considered another button for the Morph Ball. I keep accidentally hitting it while trying to pull off the damn A+Y Missile Combos, and I get my ass killed! Why do we need two separate Pause buttons? Start brings up the Pause Menu. Z brings up the Map. Why aren't they the same screen? Start can be the Map/Pause, just like the same button was between them in Metroid Prime's second sequel, Corruption. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!?!?! I mean, Z for the Morph Ball would have been nice. At least I could have one more button (X) for something sorely needed: A quick-turn key. Turning and moving at the same time is handled by movement forward/backward and turning left-right on the Control Stick, and with all of this Samus handles more like a semi than a Bounty Huntress in shining power armor.

Or it could have been a melee key! There is no effective close-range weapon in this game, meaning you're totally fucked when you're cornered and there's four Space Pirates pinning you to the wall with their swords! Is melee combat obsolete in the far future? Samus does have an impressive selection of armament and equipment to use to her advantage. Missiles lock on and are guided to their targets, making them more effective against those damn auto-lock evaders that your gun can't compensate for. Four different types of cannon are available, and can be combined with the Missiles for even more options to deal with enemies. But no close-range defenses. Given the energy scythes of the Space Pirates, melee combat still has its place, and Samus has a suit of power armor giving her immense strength! Why can't she just punch them? But when you do let off a successful barrage from your weapons, the results are quite satisfying. I mean, where else can you freeze your enemies and blow them apart with a missile? Samus also has this weird capability to roll into an armored sphere, roll into tunnels, drop bombs, roll along magnetic rails, and even increase her speed temporarily. Now that is badass. Even without this Morph Ball, we still get the chance to ever increase our Missile ammunition capacity, as well as find new Visors that allow altered perception in thermal and X-ray spectrums. New Suits are also picked up, giving increased shielding and granting us even more abilities (surviving in high heat and moving through water, as well as extreme radiation protection). The powerups are just plain awesome.

As is the rest of the game. If you're looking for mindless blow-shit-up games, keep going. But if you're looking for an experience, look no further. While you do have to excuse the fact that you can't control Samus as well as you should be, it's well worth the steep learning curve to find an exciting, wonderful, compelling, and addicting adventure. It's got just enough exploration to fill in the plot, and just enough action to keep you on the edge of your seat. And all of it is presented with the highest standards of quality in audio and video. Metroid Prime is a must own for anyone who considers himself to be a gamer. Not a “must play”, but a “must own”. As in, buy it. No matter what you pay, it's worth at least five times that, and even more once you factor in the exceptionally high replay value, to procure your own copy of some of the best 8-20 hours of gaming ever burned onto disc.


<3 = 1, :metroid: = .5

STORY: <3 <3 <3 <3 :metroid:
PRESENTATION: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
VISUALS: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
AUDIO: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
GAMEPLAY: <3 <3 <3 <3 :metroid:
CONTROLS: <3 :metroid:


Overall, I give Metroid Prime a 4.8 out of 5 with a title of "Kick-Ass".
Samus Aran wrote:Chozo Ice Beam acquired, extinguish a Girl on Fire!

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Re: Thunderchin's Honest Review of Metroid Prime

Postby Toxsyl » 11.05.11 2:12pm

I never had issues with the control. Then It might becuase you can't do Fpses on a console well with out any aim assistance.
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Re: Thunderchin's Honest Review of Metroid Prime

Postby DrevanZero » 11.05.11 2:18pm

on the trapped by pirates i would normally lock on to one, b-dash around the group then super missile the whole group and one shot them
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Re: Thunderchin's Honest Review of Metroid Prime

Postby Chris » 11.07.11 8:56am

The controls on the gamecube were a great compromise for it's time, obviously the wii setup is better but not once did I get trapped back with the gamecube controls.

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Re: Thunderchin's Honest Review of Metroid Prime

Postby DrevanZero » 11.07.11 9:27am

I actually prefer the gamecube controls, they flow very nicely and became very natural to me. Maybe thats because I have beaten the game 5 times, but they just clicked the very first time I played
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Re: Thunderchin's Honest Review of Metroid Prime

Postby DarkPhazonElite » 03.30.12 2:11pm

Good review!! I swear, who the hell needs drugs when there's Metroid Prime? There just isn't a word to describe the epicness that is Metroid Prime (and Echoes...). I'm going to review this awesome game on my website before long.
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Re: Thunderchin's Honest Review of Metroid Prime

Postby Dragonheart91 » 03.30.12 2:24pm

There were a few boring parts and the gamecube controls did really turn me off for a while. Even so, Metroid: Prime is a phenomenal game and is well worth the effort.

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Re: Thunderchin's Honest Review of Metroid Prime

Postby Zynux » 03.30.12 4:57pm

I think the few "boring parts" are from the game's lack of any real difficulty, especially the normal enemies. The Space Pirates and other enemies quickly became a non-threat, especially when you started acquiring the more powerful Beams. (Ice Beam Charge + Missile = Automatic Death of Space Pirates).

Also, I never realized how bad the controls were until I played Prime 3, and then Prime 1. Yeah, the controls really are terrible and completely takes you out of the experience of the game.
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Re: Thunderchin's Honest Review of Metroid Prime

Postby DrevanZero » 03.30.12 5:14pm

As i previously stated, I found the controls very intuitive and I never had an issue with them.
Last edited by DrevanZero on 04.01.12 3:35am, edited 1 time in total.
Forget queen metroid, I'M THE KING!
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Re: Thunderchin's Honest Review of Metroid Prime

Postby Opium » 03.30.12 9:53pm

The very first person I have ever heard give anything but praise for Prime's controls.

How does one end up getting pinned by space pirates? The enemies basically turn to dust as soon as you enter each room if you know what you're doing. I say play it a dozen more times and THEN give a review. And check out metroid2002.com too.
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