Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

Developer(s): Nintendo, Retro Studios

Platform(s): Gamecube, Wii (as part of Metroid Prime Trilogy)

Release Date(s): Nov 2004 (Gamecube), Nov 2009 (Wii)

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is a game that takes very few chances. With the first Metroid Prime game enjoying such commercial success, it probably didn’t make sense to mess with the formula of the game too much. However, they had to change some aspects of the game, to keep the franchise somewhat fresh. They do just enough, therefore, that differentiating between the two is like differentiating between brands of ketchup. You might prefer one, but it really doesn’t matter.

The Set up:
Following on from the events of Metroid Prime (and Metroid Prime: Hunters for the DS, which will be reviewed whenever I feel like it), Samus Aran is tasked with the job of rescuing Galactic Federation Marines on the planet of Aether. Once she has arrived, she discovers the Marines were slaughtered by a vicious race of creatures known as the Ing. These creatures inhabit an alternative dimension of Aether and are causing all kinds of havoc. Samus must travel through these dimensions in order to destroy the Ing and return peace to Aether.

Metroid Prime’s changes from the previous iteration in the series were radical. Metroid Prime 2’s changes are as subtle as these were radical, and the casual onlooker would be forgiven for thinking it is the same game. Many key elements remain intact. The series mainstay, the focus on exploration, solitude and atmosphere is as strong as ever. Once again, old log books and corpses litter the grounds that you adventure upon, hinting at a dying or dead civilization. The level layout is similar, with Samus allowed to run loose in an open world. Of course, many paths are blocked and will only become available as she regains certain abilities.

With this in mind, if you have played the first Metroid Prime game, you already have a very good idea of what you are in for here. The intro is less action packed (no exploding space stations), but otherwise this is a very similar game. So let’s have a look at the changes that the game makes instead.

The biggest change the game makes, in an effort to keep things fresh, is the inclusion of a dark world. This has been done before, most notably in games such as The Legend of Zelda series. Instead of the massive sprawling world of the first MP, we are now treated to a slightly smaller world that can be traversed over two separate planes. This is an interesting mechanic to use because it is always fun to see your actions in one world have an effect on that of the other. This certainly seems to be the idea here, with the solutions of many puzzles only obtainable by traversing both planes.

However, while the game developers handle this very well, it feels like something of a missed opportunity. With the exception of the boss battles (still up to an incredibly epic standard), the Dark World is easily the less interesting section of the game. The landscape is, to sum up, purple. And dangerous. The very air around you causes damage until you have upgraded your suit sufficiently. While this is effective in adding a sense of malevolence to the world, it is doubtful that any players will be eager to spend much time there.

Another change made to Echoes is the game’s antagonists. Whereas Ridley generally appears in most Metroid games as Samus’ rival, this is one of the few games in which he is absent. Instead, a new character is introduced, the all but inevitable evil doppelgänger: Dark Samus. Reappearing several times during the game, Dark Samus is actually a welcome addition to the game, radiating danger whenever s/he appears and gives the game an edgier tone than its predecessor. Somewhat reminiscent of Nemesis in Resident Evil 3.

There are also a number of new upgrades available in Echoes. The hilariously named Screw Attack makes a welcome return! This is easily the most fun ability in the game, though it may take some time to master. There are also some new visors, weapons, etc. A new addition to the series as a whole, this is the first game to feature collectible ammo for your gun upgrades. Whereas before, you simply had unlimited ammo, now you must be more conservative and save more powerful ammo for bigger bosses. This adds a level of strategy to the game, which is also a welcome addition.

The final change made to Echoes is the addition of multiplayer, a first for the Metroid series. This comes with two different modes, a simple deathmatch mode, and a bounty mode. Bounty mode works with a coin system in that whoever collects the most coins wins the round. There are up to six maps available in multiplayer, all of which are similar but not identical to locations within the game. There are also temporary power-ups available, including the never-before-seen Death ball, which is as chaotic as giving a chainsaw to an orangutan. It isn’t exactly revolutionary in terms of multiplayer, especially when compared to modern shooters such as Call of Duty. The mechanics are tight however, there’s plenty of fun to be had in it, and it is a nice little addition to what is primarily a single player game.

Overall:
The vast majority of changes made to Echoes are for the best. New moves, the addition of ammo depletion and multiplayer all compliment the game very well. However, the major change, the Light/Dark world mechanic, can be a bit annoying. You feel like you’re retreading old ground a lot more than in previous games because, essentially, you are. Still, this is a Metroid game, and that is only a minor complaint to an otherwise excellent and immersive game. Metroid Prime was Chef ketchup (nom), and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is Heinz ketchup (less nom, but big deal!).

Rating: 8/10

“You’re our only hope Samus” – U-mos, Sentinel of the Luminoth

This game is kind of like:

  • Waking up in a cave with just a box of matches.

or

  • Being stuck in space with a Rubix Cube and The Exorcist soundtrack
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