Metroid Prime 3: Corruption Review

Developer(s): Retro Studios, Nintendo
Platform: Wii
Release Date: Oct 2007

Click Here for Metroid Prime 3: Corruption trailer

Another day, another Metroid game to review. When fans and nerds alike need to get their fix of blowing up mutant alien jellyfish, there is really only one place to turn to. No, not New Jersey….

The Set-up:
Following the events of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Samus is once again aiding the Galactic Federation to fend off the Space Pirates. In a mission to suppress their attacks, Samus and the other Bounty Hunters come face to face with Dark Samus. During this encounter, all four Hunters are infused with Phazon, a lethal poison that is infecting a number of planets around the solar system. While it is slowly corrupting Samus, it also makes her more powerful. She must use this dark force to save the surrounding planets of the Federation, find her fellow Hunters and, ultimately, eliminate Dark Samus.

Echoes was a PRIME example (snigger) of a sequel playing it safe. It changed very little of the original Metroid Prime formula, and many felt it was all the better for it. Well, with so much going for it, Nintendo and Retro decided to play things just a little bit risk-ay, and mixed things up a bit. Fans of the series, don’t sweat it, this is still a Metroid Prime game, the kind you know and love. But changes have been made, some big, some small, and all of them with one obvious intention in mind: appealing to a wider audience.

We all know what that means right? More explosions. More drama. More sex appeal!…..well, all right, the only actual sex appeal in this game comes in the form of Samus removing her helmet once or twice. But this just goes to show how well Retro and Nintendo can handle a franchise. They know all too well that it is their dedicated fan base that will be picking up most of the copies of this game so they can’t afford to ALIENATE (chortle) these loyal gamers. It’s true that there are a lot more set pieces this time around, and it feels more Star Wars than Alien. However, with this entry, they still manage to retain all of the elements that make the franchise so great to begin with.

For those who are unfamiliar with Metroid, the main focus of the games is exploration. Previous games saw you landing on a desolate planet and exploring its plains and ruins in order to resolve some issue or other. These long periods of loneliness would occasionally be punctuated with a small attack of alien creatures, or truly epic boss battles. Once defeated, you would usually acquire another suit upgrade which would allow you to explore an area that was previously inaccessible. Many of these will be familiar to loyal fans, with the much-loved Screw Attack making a welcome return.

Corruption is slightly different because it feels more episodic. Instead of one expansive planet, the game is now divided into 4 planets and 2 space stations. This allows for greater variety among levels. One section in particular, the Skytown Elysia, is notably impressive for the way it evokes a strong sense of isolation and vastness. It’s like a robotic depiction of heaven, so long as heavens’ occupants don’t mind the occasional shootout and violent explosion.

These planets are obviously smaller than the planets from previous games, but put altogether, it makes for a pretty big, if not massive, adventure. To make travelling easier, Samus can now access her ship remotely, commanding it to land nearby. It’s a lucky thing the developers decided to include this aspect, because it would have made trekking across these planets such a chore that it would have damaged the overall experience.

The epic scale of the game is really accentuated by the fact that you are not on one solitary mission. Instead, it gives you a glimpse of the bigger picture, showing how Samus is just one agent of the Federation and fighting just one battle in a full-scale war. The other Hunters, an inspired trio of colourful characters, hint at a back story with Samus, but they are never explicit. The way Samus interacts with them adds another layer of complexity to her character. Truly, this is a fitting end, cinematically at the very least, to the Prime trilogy.

However, the fact is that the game would actually feel bigger if the difficulty levels hadn’t been tweaked. This decision is clearly going to divide a great deal of players. While roughly the same length, Corruption is a far easier game than Echoes. The player is provided with hints every few minutes so that they always know where they’re supposed to be going. Previous games often had the player wandering around aimlessly, sometimes for hours, completely unsure of what to do next. It could be frustrating, but it was also part of the game’s charm, making you feel lost and helpless. Here, with the exception of one galaxy wide fetch quest towards the game’s end, it is basically travelling from point A to point B, and occasionally blasting aliens along the way.

Of course, this an area that has no doubt only improved. The controls have been altered for the Wii, and they are totally for the better. You can now aim Samus’ cannon with the Wii remote for pinpoint accuracy, and the transition feels perfectly natural after about 5 minutes of play. Enemies can now be killed as naturally as if they were in your own living room. The ammo system of the previous game has been scrapped for a simplified upgrade version. Your cannon and missiles simply get stronger as you progress, which somewhat eliminates the strategy element of Echoes. But to make up for this absence, the game introduces Hypermode.

Tying in with the game plot, Samus can now engage a power-up using the Phazon that has corrupted her body. This makes her attacks stronger and wider, and makes standard enemies almost no threat whatsoever. However, this option is not without risks. Health tanks must be injected in order to engage Hypermode, so that’s 100 points of health down already. On top of this, if you remain in Hypermode too long, your body will become overloaded with Phazon. This is indicated by a flashing red bar on the top of the screen. If the bar fills up completely, it’s game over. To get rid of the excess Phazon, you have use your cannon to rid yourself of it (i.e. start shooting like a drunken cowboy).

This is an interesting system because, potentially, you can remain in Hypermode for an incredibly long period of time, but only if you stay on your toes. At times, you will definitely need this handy little boost. The boss battles (for many, the highlight of the games) are again, notably epic. If there is one complaint, some of the bosses feel quite similar, but this is easily excused when you consider one thing: Ridley.

Yes, that’s right, Samus’ nemesis returns, partnered up with Dark Samus, and contributes the very best boss battles (plural!) of the game. Your very first fight sees Samus and Ridley plunging down an enormous mine shaft, blowing the alien crap out of each other, with debris falling about you at hundreds of miles an hour. Best of all, this isn’t even the high point of your encounters, it only gets better!

On top of all of this, the game itself has had a graphical overhaul. Truthfully, this isn’t too noticeable most of the time. Textures might be smoother and more detailed, but it is only in the grand space battles or the beholding of new worlds that you will actually notice the difference. Which is slightly irritating because it comes at a price.

Loading times are now considerably increased. The game tries to disguise these times with either cinematics of Samus travelling by ship (forgivable) or taking longer to open doors (less forgivable). You may end up waiting 10 to even 15 seconds for a door to open. At best, this is mildly annoying. However, if you are trying to escape from a group of enemies that are overpowering you, it feels extremely cheap, punishing the player for something they haven’t done (or possibly for buying one of those Just Dance games).

Overall:
Corruption makes jumping into the Metroid universe easier than ever before. If you have never played a game in the series before and are looking for a way to ease yourself into it, this is the game to play. Plenty of exploration still to be had, but with an extra helping of action and drama for the easily distracted.
Loading times are an issue, and it does feels like it could have been a bit tougher. But then again, there are always harder difficulties to unlock. If you prefer your games straight forward, you can probably add another point to the final score. Probably the best FPS on the Wii and the most exciting Metroid game to date.

Rating: 8/10

“Don’t you feel the power? Soon everything will be corrupted. Including you.” – Ghor

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • The woman who does the voice of Samus, Jennifer Hale, has done a ridiculous amount of voice work in other games. Highlights include: The voice of Naomi in Metal Gear Solid 4, the voice of Ophelia in Brutal Legend, the voice of female Commander Shepherd in Mass Effect, and the voice of Jean Grey in any number of X-Men games.
  • It was to my intense delight to discover that you can unlock some bonus content if you turn into a ball and knock over a group of robots a là bowling.
  • This is the first game in the series to acknowledge the Morph Ball double jump as an actual move.  A tricky technique to pull off, skilled players could use this move to get to higher locations and bypass small sections of previous games. This time around, there are certain items that can only be obtained through the use of this move.

This game is kind of like:

  • Dead Space with a PG-13 rating

or

  • An epic TV series adaptation of an epic film
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I liked Metroid Prime 3. Maybe it’s the best game of the Metroid Prime series.


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