Since the Nintendo DS’s release, it has allowed many gamers to enjoy countless hours of stylus tapping and furious scribbling.
It doesn’t take long to realise that even though the little DS isn’t the most powerful machine in the world, its control scheme is quite capable of handling a first person shooter, if done properly.
Metroid Prime: Hunters moves away from the classic 2D Metroid titles by offering a first person shooter similar to the offering on found on Nintendo Wii.
So how well has the game translated across to the third dimension and does it manage to pull off a true first person experience that can fit in your pocket.
To give you a rough idea of the story, there was an old race called the Alimbics, who had some pretty neat technology. Samus, our heroine is running around the Galaxy to old ruins to try and retrieve all the relics and artifacts left behind, but she is not alone.
The idea behind hunters is that you are not alone in your quest for these artifacts, so expect to run into some other folks who will be prepared to fight you for it.
Even though this game is a first person shooter the game definitely leans more towards being an adventure game. Most levels have a similar formula to them, which usually involves getting certain artifacts, working out how to get to certain areas, fighting a boss and then getting the hell out when a self-destruct sequence initiates. While each level does essentially play out the same they are quite varied in their theme and the approach that you need to take to clear them , be prepared for a good load of backtracking though.
What this game does realise is that you can’t approach the first person shooter the same way that you would on a PC. The controls and gameplay have been nicely built to work well with the DS. Your top screen is where the game plays out and the bottom screen is used for aiming with the stylus, selecting weapons and also letting you to jump with a double tap of your stylus. As far as buttons are concerned, you only use the left bumper to shoot and that start button to access your map. The layout works very well but be prepared for a severe hand cramp after extended play sessions.
While the focus is not on being a shooter, the stylus is very responsive and surprisingly accurate. Occasionally you will go into a mode where you roll up into a morph ball and can either control it with your d-pad or your stylus, both of which also feel smooth.
Most of your time will be spent roaming around levels, jumping around and scanning things with the occasional fire fight happening here and there. Most of your enemies are simple and float around while the occasional hunter battles are a lot more fast paced, requiring more accuracy and clever thinking.
Some of the levels can be frustrating as they leave you to run through them a couple of times as you try and figure out where you should be going next. To save you need to run back to your ship at the beginning of the level each time. This whole process has been made easier by having one or two portals placed in each level, allowing you to get back in a flash. While this system works fairly well, it still puts you in the situation where you need to reach certain portals before being able to save. That means that if you haven’t found a portal and someone else wants to play the DS or you want to play something else, you have the option to either run all the way back manually, play the entire first half of the level again later, or sit tight and keep playing until you reach a portal.
This somewhat kills the fact that the rest of the game has been well designed for mobility because no one wants to play through a section again, and fight the same boss three times over, but this is unfortunately something that does happen.
Being a DS game, the graphics are obviously nothing out of this world, but they do their job very well and make up a convincing 3D world. The sound is also above average and has been well integrated, with pops and bangs wherever you expect them.
On the whole the game is very accessible. Fans of the series will surely love it and newcomers can still look forward to a fun action-adventure. If you are a hardcore FPS player and are looking for a true shooter-in-your-pocket I won’t say that you won’t find it here, but I won’t say that you will either.
While I have not had a chance to try the multiplayer, I hear that it is a blast, so if you are someone who has a ton of DS wielding hombre’s that are keen for a fun multiplayer experience, I can definitely see how much joy could be squeezed out of the deathmatch.
Gameplay: 8.5/10 [Adventure and Shooter in one package, great use of DS controls]
Presentation: 7/10 [ Decent but slightly bland graphics for a DS game]
Sound: 8/10 [ Everything you would expect from a Metroid Title]
Value: 8/10 [ Decent in length, better with multiplayer]
Overall: 8/10 [Solid adventure title and a fun FPS to boot]
Last Updated: September 16, 2008