Rewind Review - Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
We have now arrived at Day 10 of the Metroid series Rewind Review. At this point we have traveled with Samus Aran through everything from her origins as a 2D adventure platformer, to her 3D action-adventures on the Gamecube and Nintendo DS. Today we will revisit Metroid Prime for the last time with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.
Metroid Prime 3 shares the burden Prime 2: Echoes received as the Prime series became more and more of an action game instead of a Metroid game. Players have often been cited as complaining that the game "lacks the adventure aspects that made the series strong" or that "firing the same weapon all game is lame and repetitive". Oddly enough, many of these complaints echo my praises of Metroid Prime: Hunters, and so as I enter Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for the second time ever the question in my head is: "Is Metroid Prime 3: Corruption a good Metroid game or action-FPS?"
As with all Rewind Reviews, Metroid Prime: Corruption will undergo a review process through the eyes of a modern critic. No nostalgia glasses, no excuses, no rationalizing hardware limitations, and no sparing myself from angry fans and readers. Nothing will excuse the game from anything that we - as modern gamers - would expect to see in the genre today. With that said, let's get our Phazon Enhancement Device Suits on and go into Hypermode as we hunt Dark Samus in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption on the Nintendo Wii.
It just wouldn't be a Retro Studios Prime game without a plot, would it? As expected, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption takes place after the previous title Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. Six months after saving the world of Aether from obliteration by the hands of the vile parasitic Ing, Samus Aran arrives upon the G.F.S. Olympus and meets with fellow bounty hunters (who are allies this time): Ghor, Rundas, and Gandrayda.
From left to right: Gandrayda, Rundas, Samus, and Ghor
While the bounty hunters were originally hired to cure a Federation Aurora Unit (think Mother Brain, but a good guy) from a Space Pirate virus, an attack by the latter group commences, forcing the Federation to dispatch their newly contracted hunters to Norion. There, Samus encounters a number of Phazon Enhancement Device Troopers (PED Trooper for short) fighting against the Space Pirates. Samus also encounters a resurrected Ridley and the two plummet down an energy shaft - locked in combat - until Samus is saved by Rundas who rides in on this totally awesome ice-wave-thing that I really wish I could get in the game! *cough* Sorry about that, almost lost myself there.
Once the three energy generators are online, Samus travels to the canon in an attempt to activate the planet's laser cannon to destroy an incoming Leviathan, the likes of which brings Dark Samus to the planet. All four of the bounty hunters are shot by the phazon clone, rendering them all unconscious. Samus recovers briefly to activate the cannon, and after that falls into a month-long comatose.
Samus's PED suit allows her to activate "Hypermode", a state that renders her invincible to most attacks, and simultaneously amplifies all damage output
When Samus awakens she finds out that she has been fitted with a new PED Suit to channel a source of phazon parasite that is growing inside her (sound like Fusion anyone?). The other hunters have been fitted with similar suits as well, however, it does not take long before we find out that the PED suits are flawed, and that our ally Rudas has been corrupted by the essence of Dark Samus.
The story continues as all Metroid Prime games tend to with the plot "thickening" with each new detail you find out about not only the phazon corruption in the bounty hunters, but also on the planets themselves. This - being the final Prime game in the trilogy - ends on the note of traveling to the origin of both the phazon and the Leviathan seeds, and you can all imagine what happens.
While I stated in my previous console Prime review that I would not praise Retro Studios any further than I already have, I have to do it once more with Prime 3: Corruption. The reason is simple: just about everything in this game is scannable. I'm not exaggerating. The only way that more objects could be scanned in this game is if Retro decided to make the floor and walls scannable - and some are! I haven't mentioned this before but I think that the versatility of the Scan Visor not only speaks a lot about the game's world, it also speaks volumes about the character of Samus in the sense that a 100% run shows how much information Samus tends to take in about her surroundings. It's an interesting feature, and the plot of the Prime trilogy measures up well to the stories presented in the 2D games.
Pressing buttons can be somewhat annoying to press at times due to the Wii's sensitive infrared sensors
I said this multiple times for the Wii versions of the other two Prime titles: Metroid Prime shows that the Wii was designed for first-person shooters. The game feels just as great as the earlier Prime titles that were remade using Wii controls, and there is absolutely nothing I would do to change that. The only changes I could imagine this game benefiting from is the use of the Wii MotionPlus remotes that came out several years after this game's release. This would have helped with some of the sensitivity issues that this game seems to have over the other Prime ports on the Nintendo Wii, especially during scenes that require players to fidget with buttons or such.
Another praise is that the game - like Metroid Prime 2: Echoes - does not increase your damage resistance with each suit upgrade. Since enemies only become more powerful - and varied - as the game progresses it can lead to some very challenging battles down the road. As a result, playing the game on the readily available "Veteran" mode will make sure that players take a steady amount of damage from enemies. While it is often not enough to ensure players will die, it is certainly enough that it makes you feel as though death is a possibility.
Some players may feel cheated at times and blame the deaths or damage on the Wii Remote's controls, however, the controls are simply something to get adjusted to. As mentioned in earlier Prime reviews, they are a straight improvement over the Gamecube controls, and once a player becomes accustomed to them there is almost no reason to go back other than for nostalgia's sake.
Sorry Ridley, maybe you should try knocking Samus into a wall next time?
All features of Metroid Prime are present in Metroid Prime 3. However, an interesting feature of this game in particular is the fact that Samus does not lose any of her items in the game at any point in time. As a result, Samus retains her Space Jump ability, her charge beam, and her morph ball and bombs. While in any other Metroid title - including the Prime games - this would be considered a heinous perversion, Metroid Prime 3 benefits greatly from this as it now feels like a fully fledged action-FPS. Many fans of the series were quick to give negative scores due to the game's focus on action and not exploration, I think that this only improves the game's score as the exploration becomes more of an "experience" as opposed to a side-chore. The reason that I say this is that the Prime series has never been about the exploration. While Metroid Prime featured a decent amount of exploration while we walked about Talon IV, it pales in comparison to the exploration options available in the 2D games since a 3D environment limits how much you can actually "hide" from players without cheating them out of areas with unnoticeable walls or holes. 2D games on the other hand have the benefit of "hiding" pathways behind foreground objects, something that has yet to be replicated successfully in a 3D environment. Simply put: Corruption stops pretending to be what it isn't by focusing on what FPS games are good at - shooting things to bits.
If this image doesn't spell "action" then I don't know what will for Metroid fans...
This point is only further proven by the inclusion of the game's central feature: Hypermode. While in Hypermode, Samus is near invincible. All of her attacks are similarly pushed to their limits with the Hyper Beam returning as the most powerful weapon in Samus's disposal for many early portions of the game. Other weapons such as the grapple lasso keep enemy fights diverse and fast-paced, with the AI sporting some of the strongest reactions in the series. The bounty hunters also give players an interesting challenge as they are the only enemies in the entire Prime series to make use of a humanoid model that reacts to players.
Oh yeah, they fixed the logbook too... just saying...
Everything in Corruption points toward Retro Studios nailing the concept of an action-based Metroid title, without completely forgetting about its roots with some minor exploration that most players won't find while running through the game without searching for them. With just about nothing slowing the game's progress this is perhaps the greatest Prime title you can play in terms of gameplay if you consider the Prime series to be about the action aspect. If you considered the Prime series to about the exploration... well... play a 2D Metroid after finishing a Prime Trilogy run and see what you think afterward. It just does not compare.
There are some minor flaws with Corruption's formula.
The first one that comes to mind is the Command Visor. While it is an interesting concept, and it certainly makes the game feel more interesting, it ultimately does nothing but break up the pacing of the game. Most of the uses for this visor include placing your ship for a place to save and heal, travel to other planets, or use your ship in puzzles that could ultimately be substituted with an environmental prop or set-piece. What would have been better is if the ship could be used to do bombing runs or maybe have space battles. Anything would have been better than this little tease at what could have honestly been a promising new toy in Samus's arsenal.
Hypermode pretty much vaporizes the bulk of common enemies
The other issue is that the Hypermode can be "broken" at times. While it always ends within 25 seconds, 25 seconds is a very long time in an action game to be both invincible and overpowered. Most enemies die from the Hyper Beam in one hit, and health pickups are not so rare that the energy tank consumed feels like a heavy sacrifice - especially since the game puts two energy tanks in your path at the very start of the game. This is typically remedied by the boss battles where not only is Hypermode required and health is limited, but in the open areas it makes fighting a breeze as even the late-game "Nova Beam" is nothing compared to a single shot of phazon goodness.
Also, the corruption death sequence is silly. "Look at me, I'm Dark Samus now! Hurr-durr~ I has blue blood..."
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption returns to the gorgeous world design that we came to expect from the first Prime title. The game is no longer a purple mess, and instead each planet feels like a unique and beautiful place to explore. The fact that this is an action game instead of an exploration game ironically helps as it lets you quickly dispatch foes before returning you to a free area to look around and take in the sights. While the game does suffer from the Wii's inability to properly render models without aliasing (thanks 480p!) it is perfectly capable of rendering some beautiful settings with higher detail and shaders than the previous Prime titles.
I would also argue that the game has the most beautiful settings in all of the Metroid series thus far. While Metroid Prime had some wonderfully designed areas, they were all very bland. Most of them were very generic in design, and while they were well polished they were equally boring. Corruption provides us with some much more captivating sights. Bryyo feels like a living and breathing tropical-volcanic world, and the Valhalla similarly feels like an actual ship drifting in space after being raided. Beyond all, Skytown, Elysia is the most beautiful sight in the game as it feels like you are actually among the heavens.
While enemies and environments look great, human characters - particularly their faces - look dated and resemble something out of the Half-Life 2 era. While it is by no means terrible for a game made in 2007, it does show its age. The HUD on the other hand is perhaps one of the best designed in the series. With the removal of the beam and visor icons it feels sleek, and the "-" button's dedication to swapping visors feels natural. The UI is similarly beautiful as it is designed to better match Samus's HUD instead of the strange orange theme of Prime or the ill-conceived nucleus ball of uselessness from Echoes.
The texture used whenever a flash causes Samus's face to appear on the screen in the later parts of the game
On the topic of in-game HUDs, Samus's face is actually more visible than in earlier Prime titles, and for good reason. As Samus continues through the game she becomes increasingly intoxicated by the phazon corruption. As such, her body actually becomes more visibly infected - both inside the suit and out. While the blue lines on her suit are most noticeable each time the player saves or exists the ship, the detail on her face is much more effective in terms of truly hitting the player with how much her corruption is eating away at her body. It is an effective piece of storytelling that many games don't go out of the way to do, especially since the face-on-the-visor detail that - while more common in Corruption than in previous titles - is still a very rare sight to see. Also, it's the first time I've seen glowing blue extra-terrestrial vomitus as an actual plot point (which actually harkens back to the side-effects of phazon poisoning in the original Metroid Prime).
Music is almost always amazing in Metroid titles, and Corruption returns to that tradition. I almost never get tired of stepping out of Samus's ship and hearing the "Samus Fanfare" jingle, even though space travel is pretty common in the game. Background music is diverse, ranging from the volcanic-jungle themes of Bryyo, to the blissful floaty melodies of Skytown. Most memorable is the Space Pirate theme that takes on a much more urgent tempo than previous iterations, matching the game's shift to an action-platformer genre.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is not a Metroid game, it is a Prime series game. Retro Studios has perfected the formula for a Metroid action-platformer with this title, and as such I must stand firmly on the grounds that this is perhaps the best Prime game as a result. If players wanted Scan Visor goodness, Corruption is the place to go. If players wanted interesting first-person boss battles, there's nothing like Prime 3. If players wanted a first-person platformer with tight controls, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is your game. If you wanted true Metroid exploration... play a 2D Metroid you loony, you're embarrassing both of us up here.
I recommend Metroid Prime 3: Corruption to just about anyone, and I mean that. The harder difficulties offer a decent challenge to players, and the easier difficulties provide controls that are simple enough for casual players to get by.
As such, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption gets a 9/10 for executing the concept of a 3D Metroid-themed action-platformer-FPS in the best way possible. The only thing preventing it from receiving a 10/10 is the somewhat unbalanced Hypermode that - in reality - does not ruin the experience enough to call for an 8/10.
What are your opinions on Metroid Prime 3: Corruption? Do you think that it's a good idea that the Prime series finally became an action-platformer instead of a half-in-the-bag exploration game? Do you think I'm completely wrong for giving Corruption a better score than the original Prime on the Gamecube? Voice your opinions in the comments section below!
Be sure to check back on this article, or the GameSkinny front page One last Metroid series Rewind Review! Next time we will be tackling the oft-cited "Worst Metroid Game" in the series Other M, and what I have planned to discuss just might surprise you! Until then, see you next mission!
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