Metroid Cut Down In Its Prime

I just finished Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and I’m sad. I’m sad because it was brilliant and now it’s over, and, to cap it all off, this is the last game in the Metroid Prime series. Sure, I’ll probably enjoy Metroid: Other M when I eventually get round to playing it, but will it reach the heights of the Prime series? I doubt it somehow – those games are a hard act to follow, and Metroid Prime 3 is, in my humble opinion, the best Metroid game so far.

There. I said it. Yep, it’s better than Metroid Prime, better than Metroid Fusion, even better than, dare I say it, Super Metroid. In a nutshell, this game is ace.

When it came out, Metroid Prime 3 was criticised for introducing too many other characters into the mix when one of the joys of Metroid games is the feeling of isolation, the sense that you’re alone on a hostile and unexplored planet. A similar criticism was rightly levelled at the Tomb Raider games, which gradually introduced more and more unnecessary characters as the series went on, and it was only after the Anniversary remake that we realised what we’d missed: the sense of being alone against the forces of evil, exploring long-forgotten ruins for the first time.

Having read the reviews, I was a little wary of the course the designers had chosen for the third game in the Prime series, but I was pleasantly surprised. You’re thrown in with the Galactic Federation at the beginning, tasked with helping to defend a Federation planet against a rogue asteroid called a ‘Leviathan Seed’, and this part of the game helps to set up the characters that you encounter later on. After that first episode is over though, you’re pretty much left on your own for the rest of the game until the climactic finale, so the move towards introducing more characters wasn’t as disruptive as I thought: in fact, it gave the game a real boost that sets it apart from the previous games in the series.

I loved the first Metroid Prime, but I was left slightly disappointed by the second game in the series: Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. It wasn’t a bad game by any means, but it felt very similar to its predecessor, with only the light world/dark world mechanic really setting it apart. Metroid Prime 3, however, feels like a whole new beast, thanks mostly to the new focus on plot and developing the world that Samus Aran inhabits. For the first time in a Metroid game, you’re given the chance to actually leave the planet you’re on and travel between several different planets in the same system, which provides some pleasing variety in scenery and a new and welcome sense of freedom. You can even use your ship to solve certain puzzles, which is a brilliant idea that sadly isn’t used enough in the game, but it shows the effort the designers have put in to making Metroid Prime 3 stand out from its predecessors.

I should also mention the controls, which are some of the best I’ve ever used. It took a few minutes to get used to aiming with the Wii remote, but after that the controls became second nature. In fact, it was like a revelation. Suddenly I was wondering why all first person shooters don’t use motion controls – it just makes sense. It even had me contemplating buying one of the Call of Duty games for the Wii, although my lukewarm reaction to Modern Warfare eventually made me decide against it.

Speaking of Call of Duty, probably the weakest segment of the game seems to be influenced by it – namely the sequence where you have to guide some demolition troopers through enemy territory. It’s a dull and frustrating segment that doesn’t really fit the atmosphere of the rest of the game, but apart from this tiny blip, the game was an absolute joy. In fact, it’s one of the few games that I can say I absolutely loved from start to finish – which is why I’m so sad it’s over.

Thanks Retro Studios, it was a blast.