The arrival of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption on the Wii couldn’t have come any sooner--this game is for the hardcore crowd and proves that Nintendo isn’t as casual as we thought they were. If the Wii game library was a bathtub of lukewarm water and rubber duckies, Prime 3 is the proverbial electrified toaster being tossed in to infuse some life into a mini-game marauded system.
Gamers can suit up once again as bounty huntress Samus Aran and set out to rid the universe of the mysterious substance, phazon, which continues to cause a ruckus since the hit Metroid Prime on the Nintendo Gamecube. Although Corruption may be the finale in the Prime Trilogy, it also begins a new era of the most accurate and satisfying control since the mouse and keyboard. Prime also gives us a glimpse of what the Wii is truly capable of graphically, and hopefully, sets a new bar for future developers to strive for.
Prime 3’s story picks up where Prime 2 left off. After ridding the planet Aether from Dark Samus and other phazon wrong-doings, Samus, along with some rival hunters, have been called by the Galactic Federation for a meeting to discuss matters that are causing the Aurora Units (whom veteran Metroid fans may be familiarized with instantly) to malfunction. It is initially suspected that the Space Pirates, who captured one of bionic brains in a tank, are the responsible party for causing a virus to be planted in the Aurora’s. Unfortunately the deliberations are put on hold as a Space Pirate armada attacks the fleet where the hunters have gathered, and that’s where the action begins. The hunters and the Federation work together to fend off the attack, but when Dark Samus intervenes, things get complicated. From here on it is your mission to rid the surrounding planets of leviathans (hulking meteors infested with phazon) and to cure the Aurora units, while at the same time not letting the effects of Phazon get to your head.
Prime 3 presents itself much different than any Metroid game to date. The universe of Samus Aran has always been a lone, isolated experience. But in Corruption you encounter human/alien interaction which has been unheard of up to now. Right from the start, players will find themselves interacting with soldiers, exploring a bustling spaceship, and fighting Space Pirates along side other soldiers and hunters. A welcomed addition is the use of quality voice actors, along side the standard text. The game feels more epic with these inclusions, and overall it heightens the experience. Samus remains the silent heroine as always, keeping in line with other game icons such as Link. Another inclusion that makes the game feel more open is the ability to hop into your hunter-class gunship. Instead of sticking on one planet or space station, Samus is now free to travel between planets, with various landing points on each surface. Players can fumble around with the controls that let you pilot the ship, check stats, access to communications, etc.
Metroid has always been about starting off with a laughable arsenal and set of abilities. As you explore more, you find the right ingredients to deal with the problems you will encounter. This time you start off with weapons and suit upgrades, and get this—you don’t lose them! Standard weapons include charge shot and morph ball bombs, with abilities such as morph ball and space jump, and visor modes such as scan and the new command mode which lets you call your ship to provide as a mobile save/recharge station, or to bombard obstacles in your hunting path that are too large for Samus to deal with. It’s pretty awesome to be able to finally control Samus’ ship, an interaction that has never been available until now.
The hyper beam was introduced in Super Metroid, and you only had it for a short period at the end of the game to defeat Mother Brain once and for all. Well, the team at Retro decided to let us have this beautiful weapon from the first mission on, and it ends up being your most valuable weapon to get through the game. After being infused with phazon thanks to her dark doppelganger, Samus now has the ability to go into hyper mode for a short period of time. The weapon is powerful and devastating—to both enemies and Samus alike. If you stay in hyper mode too long, Samus will perish. Another catch of using hyper mode is that it drains your health. Players will have to walk the fine line of ultimate power and vitality. Even though the hyper beam may be the ultimate weapon, Samus will still need the assistance of various arm cannon beams and the trusty old missile launcher, as well as a bunch of suit modifications.
The major attribute to Prime 3 that sets it apart from its prequels, and for any other FPS/FPA title to date, is its unique and satisfying control scheme. The Wiimote acts as a virtual mouse and is used for aiming and shooting, jumping, visor and menu access. The nun chuck allows you to turn, morph into ball mode, and lock on to targets. The controls in Prime 3 are tight and they work very well. There are three levels of sensitivity to choose from, so skilled players and newbies alike can find something that suits their style. Prime also integrates a system that lets you lock onto certain targets, with the ability to still free aim. This method works much better than the previous lock on modes in Prime 1 and 2. Turning around does take a second or two, but so far I have yet to be in the situation where it has caused any grief. It’s clear that Retro spent a lot of time fine-tuning these controls, making sure they were far superior to anything else released for the Wii thus far.
Other motion controls include raising the Wiimote up to activate ball jumps, and using the nun chuck as Samus’ grapple hand. To use the grapple beam, the nun chuck is cast forward (which launches and attaches the beam to the target) and then cast back over top your shoulder (causing the object, or player, to be flung from its original position). The grapple works flawlessly, and it feels completely natural in every way, while the ball jump works to a lesser extent.
It’s clear that the game play for Prime 3 has been tweaked to speed things up, in probably an effort to appeal to more players. This is the most action packed Metroid game to date, and it sets a new direction for the Metroid franchise. There are tons of battles with the space pirates that are intense and require skill and ingenuity to survive. Let’s just say that Samus isn’t the only sentient being to discover the use of hyper mode, and just how devastating its affects are. Boss battles will also prove to be a challenge to even the most veteran Chozo warriors. It also helps that the planets are divided up into smaller regions, as opposed to one hulking map. This helps players in the clarity of their objectives and what it is they are supposed to hunt for next.
Now there are still aspects of the original Metroid scavenger hunt formula that hold true in Prime. Items such as missile upgrades and energy tanks are dispersed throughout the lands for Aran to uncover. Other weapon, visor, and power suit upgrades will have to be found as well, usually at the cost of a major boss confrontation. Back tracking is what Metroid is famous for, and it does still remain in Corruption. You will come across doors, platforms, or other obstacles that will require a certain technology not yet in your possession. Some players love this aspect, while others not so much, but its not Metroid without revisiting areas a few times over, now is it?
The one part of the game which does tend to slow things down, especially to those players intent on getting 100% in the logbook, is the scanning mode. In order to obtain access to areas, activate switches and other crucial devices, analyze enemies and learn their weaknesses, and to get an education of the lore of the locals, scanning is required. Although it does add depth to the game, it does hinder it because it makes you look aimlessly around every room and corridor for any valuable information or cracks in the walls that may lead to a juicy secret. However some players may not care about uncovering every aspect in the game, so this won’t be an issue for them. The visor also does more than scanning, it allows you to command your ship for a bombing run or to land for a quick save and recharge. This adds to the game by making the player feel truly in control of Samus and all her abilities. Having a menacing gunship at your disposal has to give anyone a boost of confidence.
Prime 3 also has a system quite reminiscent of Xbox 360 game achievements. Players will get medals, in the shape of the screw-attack icon, when certain enemies are killed or items are scanned. These medals can be used to buy concept art, music, Mii bobble heads, and the ability to take and send screen shots during game play to other players; another great addition to an already deep game.
Metroid is the front runner in graphics for the Wii hands-down. Prime 3 needs to be played by anyone who owns a Wii, just so there is a general consensus that this is what all games on Wii should strive to look like. Corruption does look similar to its Gamecube counterparts, but that’s only in the artistic foundation. Prime 3 has been given a major facelift, with enhancements such as bloom lighting and wonderful particle effects. The worlds in Prime 3 are vibrant locales, each with it’s own ecological, biological, and mechanical aspects. Planets teem with life and activity with an agenda of their own, regardless of what bounty hunter may be traipsing through it. Samus and her phazon enhanced suit drips with style, and other enemies and hunters hold their own with their individual flare. Even the menu’s in the game make you feel you have entered the bloodstream of some alien creature, and it sets the mood quite appropriately.
The music in Prime will instantly corrupt any player into the embrace of moody and atmospheric backdrops, while also offering something familiar to Metroid fans in some updated renditions from games past. The music in Prime 3 can be eerie at times, make you believe you are trespassing in ancient lands through powerful chanting, and it can reeve you up for epic and chaotic battles for life and death.
Now that Prime 3 is at our disposal, it is quite safe to say that Wii has an official flagship title that was built from the ground up to take advantage of the Wii’s control scheme and graphical capabilities. Prime also shows how to make an FPS (or as Nintendo calls it an first person adventure..) for the Wii that actually works and replaces the archaic analog stick control setup. Players will be corrupted by Prime 3 because it will be difficult to play other FPS titles without the unique and innovative controls offered by the Wiimote and nun chuck. Metroid also instills confidence in what is left of their hardcore audience, proving that Nintendo remembers who brought them their initial success. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is a must have title for Wii owners.
Gameplay: 9, Graphics/Sound: 9.5, Innovation: 9.5, Mojo: 9.5. Final: 9.5 / 10
Reviewed by Brad Pritchard | 09.01.07