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Metroid Prime

Developer: Retro Studios | Publisher: Nintendo
Players: N/A | Release Date: 11/17/02 | Genre: First Person Shooter

It's been more than 15 years since Samus Aran made her video game debut on the NES, and she's come a very long way. From the NES to the SNES and Game Boy, and finally to our Gamecubes and Game Boy Advances. Her new adventure on the Gamecube takes you into a whole new perspective, allowing you to peer through her visor into an entire new world of gameplay. And this world is absolutely fantastic to look at. Surreal graphics fill the atmosphere, while pounding music pushes your adrenaline. This all adds together to form a highly polished game that will please even the most casual of gamers.

You start out investigating a barren pirate ship, and the story continues to assemble from there. Eventually the ship's reactor goes haywire and you flee, following a giant pterodactyl-like bird (guess who?) to the nearby planet of Tallon IV. The rest of the game occurs here, through many different environments ranging from extreme artic cold to intense magma heat. These environments, from the structures to the creatures, are all visually striking, and will surely make your jaw drop a time or two. The graphical details, while somewhat subtle at times, add an unbelievable amount of atmosphere to the game. Seeing your reflection on the visor in the aftermath of a big explosion, having water drip onto the screen in the rainy Tallon Overworld, and being able to see the water drip down the visor after exiting a pool of water add more to the feel of the game than I can easily describe within this review. Through the entirety of this experience, controlling Ms. Aran is a cinch.

Despite what it may seem when you first pick up your controller, the control scheme is great. Of course at first it seems odd, especially if you are familiar with 촹picalonsole first-person shooters that use both joysticks. Nintendo and Retro Studios successfully solved this problem by adding the invaluable lock-on feature. This counteracts the oddity of not using a second joystick for changing your view. In no time at all you will be switching beams, double jumping, and rolling around in your morph ball like a seasoned veteran. You obviously do not start with every possible upgrade, and as such the meat of the game is spent going from place to place, collecting power-ups for your suit and defeating the bosses that precede them.

Collecting power-ups was to me a great aspect of the game. To acquire one, however, you must fight your way through a giant boss of some sort, these ranging from enormous rock monsters to an even larger poisonous plant. Trouncing them gives you a great feeling of success, and the item you receive is always as good as the boss is hard. In typical gaming fashion, these power-ups open up new doors, and of course you have to backtrack to get to them. Along your way you will also find smaller mini power-ups, such as energy tanks and missile upgrades to allow you to carry more missiles. These add up rather quickly and soon render you nearly unstoppable. What it all boils down to, however, is collecting 12 Chozo artifacts. Upon the finding of all 12, you enter the final area and battle of the game. The finale is great, but with all the aforementioned power-ups the last boss is almost too easy. This doesn't even come close to stopping the game from being great, however, as is seen through the many details, big and small, and the hard work put into the game by Retro Studios and Nintendo.

Through the entirety, the game's sound, looks, and controls are fantabulous. Hearing the thumping bass pump into your ears when the Chozo ghosts materialize from cloudy vapor in an otherwise pitch black room is very energizing. Also great are the sounds of beam blasts, missile explosions, enemy chirps and screams, and even footsteps and splashes. This aspect is part of what makes it such an atmospheric experience from start to finish.

Any self-respecting gamer with a Gamecube nearby should definitely obtain a copy of Metroid Prime. It has the potential to satisfy adventure enthusiasts, action lovers, and FPS fans alike. Anyone who is remotely similar to me won't be able to put their controller down (well, save for the occasional meal and bathroom break) until the last boss is down and out for the count. One thing is for sure, however, you won't be down and out for the count with sadness unless you skip this game.

By Matthew Sheahan - 02/07/03
ESRB Details: Violence
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Screenshots for Metroid Prime

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