Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime: Echoes on Gamecube were part of one of the most successful and best realised franchises available on that platform, so its not wonder that the follow-up title for the Wii, Metroid Prime: Corruption has been so highly anticipated by fans of the series.
Unfortunately for those of us in South Africa, local Wiis are PAL systems, and Corruption’s release date on PAL is a couple of months behind, so it was with great excitement that I managed to get my hands on an NTSC Wii and a copy of the game. After reading all the hype about this title, as well as the consistently stellar reviews flooding the Web, I was extremely keen to get my mitts on the game and start playing.
Considering the relative unpopularity of the Gamecube here in South Africa, it’s quite likely that the Metroid Prime franchise will be new to many local gamers, so let’s provide a quick overview of the series: gamers play as Samus Aran – an intergalactic bounty hunter who is commissioned by the Galactic Federation to combat the scourge of space piracy. Did I mention that Samus is a female?
Gameplay can be described as “adventure FPS” – combining traditional first person shooter action with often complex and involved environmental puzzles. Samus has the ability to turn into a “morph ball” which allows her to literally turn into a ball and fit into areas that are otherwise inaccessible.
As the game progresses you’ll be able to unlock weapon and suit upgrades that will allow you to kick ass and take names better, and to access parts of the game world that were previously inaccessible. You can also upgrade your suit’s visor, which allows you to access information about creatures, objects and areas; command your spaceship remotely; and see through certain objects. Finally, you can upgrade your ship to be able to lift objects and use missiles.
The fact that you become able to perform more complex tasks with certain suit, armour, weapon or ship upgrades means that you’ll often be faced with areas in a world that you can’t get to until you’ve acquired a certain upgrade and will have to come back to this area later. The revisiting of locations is a key gameplay mechanic of the entire Metroid series, including the 2D scrollers that predate the Prime franchise.
Boss battles in Metroid have typically been lengthy and difficult affairs requiring players to make full use of the variety of tools at his/her disposal, and Corruption is no different. Some of the boss battles are extremely challenging, forcing players to adopt a number of different strategies for various stages of the battle.
So that’s the background: girl bounty hunter; space pirates; character upgrades; revisiting areas; big boss battles.
In each of these areas the game’s developers, Retro Studios, have remained true to the formula, making only slight improvements to some of the more irritating elements of previous titles. Obviously, the biggest change in Corruption is the new control system that’s afforded by the Wii remote and nunchuck. The developers have done extremely well here, providing a far better FPS Wii interface than any other game to date. Just remember to set the game’s control setting to “advanced.” The “basic” setting is not recommended at all – you need to move the aiming reticule all the way to the edge of the screen and drag your view across, like scrolling in an RTS (or in Red Steel for that matter). It’s awkward and slow, so stick to advanced.
In addition to the finesse with which players can move and aim with the Wii remote/nunchuck combo, the game offers a number of other interesting uses for the console’s motion sensing functionality. Throughout the game, you’ll need to pull and twist switches, pump up pressure valves and unlock door mechanisms using a rather enganging system of pulling, pushing and/or twisting the Wii remote. Most of the animations on screen are very similar to the physical actions being done with the Wii remote and it adds a nice level of immersion to an otherwise mundane task.
Even more fun is the grapple mechanism where you lock onto a target using the Z button, then make a throwing motion with the nunchuck to throw out your grapple, and pull it towards you to activate it. The grapple can be used to swing between objects, hang onto transit rails and pull the armour off of enemies. Later on in the game you can also use the grapple to suck energy out of objects or charge them up with some of your own energy.
The only criticism I have with the controls is that the rocket launcher trigger is mapped to the down arrow of the D-pad. It’s an awkward position and you really have to stretch your thumb to get there. This resulted in me not using rockets as much as I probably should have.
Another nice improvement over the previous Metroid Prime games is the streamlined travel mechanism that allows you to use your ship to fly between planets, or fly to various locations on each planet. Additionally, there are certain transit points on some levels that let you fast travel long distances across the map. Considering that the game’s maps are pretty huge and that you WILL be traveling back to the same area repeatedly, this is a handy time saver indeed. That’s not to say the game’s short – I completed Corruption in about 22 hours.
You might be thinking that I haven’t mentioned the game’s graphics – I’ve been avoiding this because I don’t want to get flamed! Honestly, when I first started playing I was disappointed. I’d just finished Bioshock on the Xbox 360 and in comparison, Corruption appeared really dated. In fairness though, Retro have done an amazing job with the hardware at hand – the game runs at 480p and in 16:9 widescreen which is nice; the use of bloom lighting is quite pretty; there’s a fair amount of particle effects and the overall art direction’s very solid, if not Bioshock amazing. Environments are huge and detailed, and the sheer variety of scenes that you encounter in the game (there’s far less repetition than in Halo 3, for example), combined with the complexity of the level geometry, go a long way to making players forget about the graphical limitations of the Wii. Besides, people don’t buy Wiis for cutting edge graphics, they buy them to play original games with intuitive, fun control mechanisms and in this regard, Metroid Prime: Corruption is a great success.
If you’re looking for a little more thinking in your FPS than the run and gun games that are so common, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more challenging, and ultimately rewarding, experience than Corruption. Highly recommended.
Last Updated: October 15, 2007