Saturday, October 1, 2011

Classic Game Review: Metroid Prime

Every two weeks, Review Editor Zach Davis contributes his column "Classic Game Reviews". This week he'll be sharing with us one of his favorite classic video games, Metroid Prime. 

You step out of your ship onto an alien planet- a world of danger, mystery, and discovery. You are Samus Aran, bounty hunter, on a mission to save the ancient world of Tallon IV from the forces of the evil Space Pirates and their infection Phazon- a radioactive, mutagenic substance that infected the planet after an asteroid impact.

Metroid Prime was Nintendo’s first, and arguably best, foray into 3D Metroid, and one of the only FPS games Nintendo has made. The gameplay seamlessly blends inventive combat, environmental puzzles, and platforming (which works surprisingly well, given the first-person view). Akin to Super Metroid or the Zelda franchise, you’ll often find yourself passing obstacles, only to backtrack to them later once you have a new tool or weapon, and then using those tools to reach and kill massive, formidable bosses.

Though all of the previous is done exceptionally well, the most noteworthy aspect of the game is its immersive atmosphere. Even hardcore gamers will find the isolation of the game chilling; there are no NPCs. The only other living beings on the planet are your faceless enemies, and the story is conveyed through the lore of the ancient (and now extinct) Chozo race of Tallon IV and through Space Pirate data logs. The exceptional music and remarkably detailed graphics feed into the game world, and, in playing first person, it’s hard not to feel as if you yourself are actually the lone bounty hunter.

The game takes you from forests and ruins to mountains and caves, and to the Space Pirates’ mines and bases in search of powerful upgrades and weapons- not the least of which are a missile launcher, the classic morph ball, power bombs, and the electrically charged wave beam. Each tool feels polished and fun to use, and at the same time they feel utilized the extent of their abilities. There are quite a few collectibles, such as ammo expansions and scan data, that, while being great bragging rights and additional challenges, offer distinct functional bonuses- the diligent player will have many more missiles to use as ammo with the powerful beam combos and additional health to weather powerful bosses’ attacks. If you get 100% scans and items, though, you’ll get a nice reward for your effort- a cutscene where Samus takes off her suit to reveal a form-fitting spandex outfit.

In short, Metroid Prime is a masterpiece game with something for everyone, and it’s available for both Gamecube in its original form, or as part of the Wii’s Metroid Prime Trilogy- three fantastic games on one disc, packed with concept art in a collectible metal case, for the price of one game. The older games have new controls to fit the Wii and adjusted graphics and difficulty. I highly recommend the package, because after playing Prime, you’ll be itching to take on its sequels (reviews coming in due time).

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