Nintendo Australia Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
- The first-person shooter formula is finally done right on the Wii.
- There's a lot of design decisions that make this game feel less like Metroid than its forebears.
Metroid purists may feel betrayed by the ramped up action and shift in tone, but this is still a highly polished and phenomenal shooter. The best FPS on the Wii yet.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is, for the most part, Nintendo's first established franchise to really utilize the Wii's motion-sensing strengths. With the exception of WarioWare Smooth moves, Nintendo's franchises on the Wii have consisted of repurposed GameCube games (Twilight Princess and Super Paper Mario) or titles with traditional control schemes that make little to no use of the Wii's features (Mario Party 8, Mario Strikers Charged and Pokemon). Playing through Corruption, you get the sense that this game was developed with the Wii in mind, a feeling that precious few titles have thus far evoked.
On the surface, Corruption doesn't look all that different from the first two chapters of the Prime series. The series' exotic extraterrestrial locales and characters are back in full force, and Samus' inventory consists of several series staples. But once you get your hands on the Nunchuck and Wii Remote, and delve into the game's narrative, you really get a sense of the major changes Retro Studios made with this iteration.
Samus and... Friends?
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption begins on a bizarre note -- Samus, the silent and singular superhero of the series starts her adventure aboard a Galactic Federation vessel where crew members are quick to offer her praise. Soon afterwards, she meets up with a crew of fellow bounty hunters, which is odd since Samus seems to have a monopoly on intergalactic adventures.
When a substance called Phazon starts infecting neighboring planets, the hunters head off to investigate. True to form, Samus' previously-unknown colleagues botch things up, and it's up to Samus to explore and eradicate. And this time... it's personal.
Without spoiling too much, the virus afflicting these planets makes its way into Samus' Power Suit, giving her some strange new powers, while causing her to suffer as well. Like the original Prime and Echoes, the plot is minimal and of little importance, making it easy for gamers unfamiliar with the franchise to get into the game. The aforementioned additional characters don't pop up with any regularity, and you can scan various enemies and artifacts to learn as much or as little of the story as you wish.
Get Your Hands on Samus
The driving force behind many of the game's changes is the new control scheme, which works quite well, due in no small part to Retro's decision to offer a high level of customization. Unlike previous Primes, which had set schemes that flew against FPS genre conventions, Corruption allows you to tweak the Wii remote's aim sensitivity, engage or disengage the lock-on shooting that turned a few folks off the GameCube titles, and switch around a few of the button-based commands.
When put into practice, the Wii's control scheme has its benefits and drawbacks. Motion-based actions like using the grapple beam to pull levers and yank enemy shields or tilting and pushing in with the Wii Remote to open doors gives the player a refreshing sense of interactivity.
While the aiming takes awhile to get used to, once you find your desired level of sensitivity, you'll find that it almost matches the buttery-smooth movement of the GameCube games. Note that I said almost, as it doesn't quite live up to the past installments' standard; still, it's a vast improvement over past Wii FPS games that have vastly underperformed.
While Samus still has her traditional suite of weaponry at her beck and call (not at first though, since she always seems to lose her powers for some unknown reason between games), the game takes a unique methodology to minimize weapon switching, which was easier on the more button-intensive GameCube controller. Basically, any new item (like Ice Missiles or Plasma Beam) adds its new properties to your beam or missile weapon without taking previous ones away, so you can be assured that you won't have to dive through menus to find the weapon that will open the door in front of you.
Then there's the Phazon -- the substance "corrupting" Samus -- which adds a neat layer to the tried and true combat of the Prime series. By sacrificing one of her energy cells (100 units of energy), Samus can enter Hyper Mode. During Hyper Mode, Samus' arm cannon and Morph Ball can emit large amount of Phazon, dealing out far more damage than her standard issue artillery. Stay in Hyper Mode too long, and you run the risk of having the Phazon overtake her body and end your game. You constantly have to keep tabs with Hyper Mode. Do you have the energy cells to spare? Are you in danger of becoming corrupted? Retro Studios did a fine job implementing the Phazon element so that it's vital to your success but not an over-utilized uber-weapon.
You'll find yourself making much more use of the vast weapon selection this time around. Unlike previous titles, exploration has now been put on the back-burner in lieu of action. That might not sound like a bad thing, but there were far too many forced encounters for my liking; occasions where you enter a room only to be locked in with easily-dispatched enemies feel like superfluous attempts to extend the action.
More often than not, these events broke the puzzle-solving flow that the Metroid series is known for. Exacerbating the issue are the boss battles, which were well designed and compelling; this made the ordinary scuffles with lesser cronies seem that much weaker and more contrived.
All in all, the gameplay in Corruption is pretty impressive. While it's not quite as polished as the first two Prime titles, it's a shining example of what a shooter should be on the Wii. If this is indeed the end of the Prime series as Retro and Nintendo have indicated, it'd be a shame to see the control scheme retired for good. With multiplayer scrapped for this game, an online-only Metroid frag-fest would be a great idea to revisit when Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection online play gets more meat on its Wii bones.
Less Walk, More Talk
The over-emphasis on action isn't the only thing that makes this game stick out like a sore thumb from the rest of the Metroid canon. Whereas most of the previous Metroid titles primarily took place on one large planet, Corruption has you flying to a handful of planets, each with different landing points. Sure, bigger is usually better, but the sheer size of the planets and your ability to land in numerous places hamper your exploration and puzzle-solving efforts. It's far easier to get lost in Corruption than in past titles and while the settings and enemies are far more diverse, it comes at the expense of that amazing feeling you'd get in previous games knowing you'd explored every nook and cranny of an entire planet.
Another odd addition is the copious voice acting implemented in Corruption. Part of the charm of the Metroid series was the feeling that Samus acting alone -- she always came across as a lone wolf -- surveying a planet on her own, with nothing to rely on but her skills and instincts. While the game isn't littered with NPCs, there's a lot of interaction with fellow bounty hunters and objectives given from outside sources. It seems like this and the multi-planet settings were both added to make the game feel more like an action-adventure than an adventure-action title, which is a shame since it flies in the face of what made Metroid one of the best franchises in gaming.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is by no means a bad game. Truth be told, it's probably one of the best titles available for the Wii, and a worthy pickup. Unfortunately, the extremely high pedigree of the Metroid series is difficult to live up to, and the game falters slightly when put up against some of the greatest games in Nintendo history.
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