Metroid Prime 3: Corruption Reader Review
Well, it seems every gamer has managed to squeeze me into a corner on this one, because to be honest they appear to have been playing a totally different game to me. You'd think to most Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (hereby abbreviated to MP3 because I can't be bothered and I have no imagination) was liquid gold and everything it touches bursts into pretty flowers and it ressurects little bunnies and a whole manner of pretty fluffy nice things. What I played was something that deviates from Metroid a few too many ways than can be considered entirely comfortable, taking away the things which made it quite different and putting it too uncomfortably near Halo than it really should be.
One paragraph in and I've already used the Halo reference. Don't worry. I'll leave it here and pretend I never did it.
MP3 continues the frankly silly Nintendo-style timeframe complex (i.e. if you know where this takes place in the timeline I suggest you go outside and talk to people. You know what they are?). It also carries on the frankly annoying problem in the industry of prematurely shooting their load when it comes to plot, because if you've read any preview to MP3, no, actually I'll go even further. If you've even read the TITLE (i.e. Corruption) you've pretty much got the gist of the whole of the plot of this game and therefore the story is one great big waste of time. Samus, in all her glory and at the start suitless (Since I like a challenge, I'll refrain from making a cheap joke), she is pulled into the usual mess that involves Dark Samus and a few planets and Phazon. Thankfully, or not if you're of the persuasion that the first Prime title was the pinnacle of awesomeness, Samus also has a supporting cast - other hunters, federation troops, Aurora Units - complete with voice acting of the usual standard you'd find in these games. That is, a little too much of a soggy sandwich. (Ham, Hammy... oh no pleasing you people.)
So, time to start on the good things about Metroid Prime before people think someone is paying me a lot of money to knock the shit out of this game. The first major change is the obvious, that would be the controls which are actually a massive improvement on the usual controller fare. The cursor and movement on the nunchuk is surprisingly efficient, shame that a few of the buttons are mapped in slightly awkward positions but I guess you can't have everything. If you've ever played a shooter on the PC, you'll pretty swiftly get the controls of MP3. I think we get the picture from Nintendo now that the Wii Remote is a surprisingly good piece of kit and you don't need to mess around with it too much. Even when not in first-person view, the controls for the morph-ball puzzles aren't in the least bit complicated.
The graphics too are by no means shabby by any stretch of the imagination, if sadly a few months too late here that we are left with the obvious references to other successful First Person games that have been released. It's all very good looking, with beautiful sci-fi trappings and gorgeous vistas spanning far into the distance. It really is as good an argument as any that games can still look brilliant in normal resolution.
So, it handles very well and looks very nice. It's also quite fun to play to a point. It's a great FPS, and MP3 really is standing in FPS territory rather than the ambiguous Adventure catagory that it's inhabited the past two Prime games. This is where it starts to fall apart at the edges. The first major problem is the linearity of the game in comparison. Backtracking has been addressed almost too much here, and whilst a lot of people may run around whooping for joy that someone is finally listening, the backtracking was never a chore in the first place. Far from it, you often found things you missed first time and that left the game as some wonderful grand game littered with hidden treats. Most things in MP3 are about as hidden as a bald patch under a bad comb-over. It's a shade ridiculous. Of course, you will have to go backtracking to open up areas with new abilities, which brings annoyance number two into play.
You'd think gettng to be in Samus' ship would be a wonderful, nay, joyous feeling. It is, for a few hours before you realise it stops the flow of the game. The same goes for plot development and exposition, stopping the action to deliver cutscenes to push the already frankly tissue-paper plot forward. Now, I LIKE plot development, it's why I like RPG's and I've a high tolerance for them. It's just an annoyance when the development is already obvious and you get the impression that you're being patronised to, yes yes I already know who I'm going to be fighting and I already know how the plot works so can we just skip this already?
The third annoyance is more flowing issues, but here it's the design of the planets isn't of the usual very high standard. It's not one thing either that bogs it down, it's a whole host of little issues. When it's good, it's very good, but then you get to stumbling blocks where things aren't quite as obvious, where save points are about as rare as intelligence in the secret services, where a few little collision detection issues can sour a sweet mix. Bosses feel a shade on the easy side, the nature of the design more about instant gratification than any depth. It's a shame really, I can often get my mind past such little niggles but the number of little niggles creates a weight too heavy to ignore.
Then there's the rewards system, which is about as strange as it gets. Scanning is the obvious thing, but counting kills? Why exactly? I also had occassions where I moved on in areas to get somewhere more apt to fight a mass of enemies only to find out that doing so wipes them out in some cutscene and I'm rewarded with a "Stylish Kill". Umm, again with the "Why?" question. Whilst I like the idea of rewarding people for their attention to detail, sometimes they do feel accidental and other times, just feel like some cheap knock-off of achievements.
Now you're expecting me to summarise Metroid Prime 3 up in a simple manner, where I should tell you to get lost and stop being a moron. If you pressed me though, I'd sum it up as "inconsistant". When it's good it's great but when it's bad it's actually rather annoying.
It's a hugely enjoyable FPS and yes, it IS an FPS - argue all you want, the emphasis onto the action has pulled it into FPS territory. The problem is in doing this, Nintendo and Retro Studios have shot themselves in the foot by putting it firmly into an arena that this year has already seen a lot of very great games, and in doing so have accidentally put it in the firing line of comparisons to games like Halo, Bioshock et al. When confronted with such behemoths of the genre, Metroid Prime 3 simply cannot compete - it's too schizophrenic in nature.
Which is a shame, and I'll admit this. I still don't get why people have been throwing such high scores its way, whilst enjoyable it's certainly not of the quality we have come to expect. I suspect the wait has perhaps blinded many into the idea that they have to somehow kiss Samus' backside. On the contrary side, I'd rather spank it and tell Samus she's a very naughty girl and to get back doing what she does best and stop trying to whore herself out to people who don't deserve the beautiful subtle complexity that made her first two 'Cube outings such a joyous experience.
Samus is capable of much greater things than MP3. Don't shout at me, I'm by no means calling Metroid Prime 3 bad. It's good. That's the problem though. It's good. When you've waited so long for a game like this, you expect nothing less than the game to be polished to a shine. This we have seen this year already so MP3 cannot be excused.
It's a B for Samus here. Definitely worth playing, but by no means the game we should have been playing - even compared to MP2 (Which I'd give an 8, MP a 9) it's not even close. This means I'm left knowing I have to score the game below MP2, which I know will court controversy (I'll be wearing a pair of trousers with targets on my cheeks for anyone interested). Lock on and flame all you want, this game should have been one of the biggest highlights of the season, but somehow doesn't quite seem to live up to a reputation it has carved for itself...
Only itself to blame though.
7 / 10