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The Metroid series has successfully grown from its intricate two dimensional platforming roots to this Wii-mote controlled Wii incarnation. It retains that Metroid feel whilst expanding the play styles considerably. With the Gamecube re-worked games being prepped for release on the Wii, what better time to revisit the first Wii outing for Samus.
Metroid games have always been big with young players because of the intricate puzzles they create, To progress through the labyrinth of platforms, players need to kill particular enemies, discover certain switches and generally pay their platforming dues. Metroid Prime 3 Corruption continues this tradition but in a more imersive and fleshed out three dimensional universe.
Although the main points of progression retain their platforming inheritance the surrounding fun takes on more of a shooter-y feel. This is testament to the success of the Wii-mote pointing - it simply works so well. Perhaps I should come clean at this stage, I've never sat comfortably with playing games at a desk (that's where I work all day) or controlling first person games with two analogue sticks (too inaccurate and too fiddly). I've always thought that the Wii-mote offered a good compromise, the accuracy of a mouse without the need to be sat at a desk.
The first moment you are told to grab a key, turn it clockwise then re-insert is a quite magical moment.
Metroid Prime 3 Corruption (along with The Conduit Wii) finally shows how true this sentiment is. The fluidity and nuance available by simply pointing to shoot, particularly when you are sniping and the like, create a completely new first person shooting experience. Not only this, but you can play the game relaxing on the sofa in the family room rather than hunched over a mouse and keyboard.
As players progress through the game they are slowly embroiled in a plot to save the day. This is still a long way off the proper acting found in games like Uncharted: Drake's Fortune PS3 and has to be said doesn't add a lot to proceedings. The good news though is that it doesn't really need to. The tight, well honed and nuanced action is more than enough to stand on it's own right.
The game offers a range of controls to suite different abilities, each though revolves around the Wii-mote for aiming and a combination of other buttons to lock on, jump, fire and strafe. The bottom line is this works well, and should accommodate a range of abilities.
Throughout levels players encounter device mini-games that need to be completed to carry on. These sections, again true to Metroid's history, are far from last minute thoughts added in to suite the Wii's audience. They are as part of the game environment as they are easy to control.
The first moment you are told to grab a key, turn it clockwise then re-insert is a quite magical moment. The Wii-mote gesture and pointing combination works perfectly. You simply match the action required on the screen in the real world and you are there - next to no tutorial is provided or indeed needed, genius. And all this is without the added fidelity of the MotionPlus add on, something that makes it exciting to imagine a game that combines Metroid's attention to design with the new tech.
This simple reflection technique adds so much to the sense of urgency and claustrophobia.
This moment is matched graphically when you first switch to scan mode and notice Samus' female lashes flickering faintly in the visor. This simple reflection technique adds so much to the sense of urgency and claustrophobia appropriate to a game like this, set in (as they would say in Firefly) black.
Where the game really excels are the classic Metroid musical hits and graphical queues that make it easy for new players to understand what is happening, whilst tapping into a nostalgia for those who have played the previous outings. This is much akin to Zelda's reoccurring chest opening or boss beating themes that imbue Nintendo's titles with such a strong sense of an ongoing tradition - all the way from Game and Watch outings to today - but that, as they say, is another story.
When alls said and done, this is just another Metroid game, and not a million miles from the Wii on the face of it. It also lacks the local multiplayer so many Wii owners are desperate to find. However, add to this the Wii-mote pointing controls, stellar design and ongoing franchise and you have a very exciting proposition. Certainly enough to whet my appetite for playing the reworked versions of the Gamecube games that are soon to appear - adding the Wii-mote goodness back into their classic experiences.
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