Author Topic: Metroid Prime Remastered (Switch) Review  (Read 3912 times)

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Offline John Rairdin

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Metroid Prime Remastered (Switch) Review
« on: February 12, 2023, 06:20:19 AM »

With a side of tech analysis.

When the original Metroid Prime released on Gamecube, it was one of the most immersive and realistic games I’d ever played. And I don’t necessarily mean realistic in the sense of being photoreal. I mean realistic in the sense that the world felt tangible. Entering the abandoned Space Pirate frigate, I was terrified. It wasn’t just because it was dark, it was because everything about the atmosphere was convincing. A giant creature laying in the middle of the room that you simply had to hope was dead. Sparks flying from damaged machinery. The bodies of Space Pirates, each scannable to determine cause of death as you pieced together the mystery of what happened here. As you descended to the surface of Tallon IV rain splashed off Samus’s gun and collected on her visor. Metroid Prime presented its intricate puzzle box with a degree of micro-detail none of us had seen before. Because of this it's generally considered one of the games of that era that has aged the best. For this reason, it would have been easy to remaster it with a simple texture update and a bump to 1080p, much like Tantalus has done with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD. Instead, Retro Studios, with the help of an onslaught of support studios, has rebuilt everything in Metroid Prime to modern standards. Calling this a remaster, as the title screen so humbly does, vastly undersells the visual overhaul Metroid Prime has received.

But before digging into the technical details, it is important to address how Metroid Prime itself holds up in terms of game design decades after its original release. Given Metroid Dread’s position as the best selling game in the series (a title it took from Prime itself) I suspect many who were introduced to the series with Dread will be playing Prime for the first time via this remaster. Metroid Prime takes Super Metroid (the most recent Metroid at the time of its release) and brings it into 3D by adapting the sidescrolling Metroidvania format into a first-person perspective. The change in perspective grants it a feeling not dissimilar from classic first-person adventure games like Myst or Riven. Yes there is certainly combat, but calling Metroid Prime a first-person-shooter both undersells its scope, while also setting up an expectation that won’t be met by its combat.

Samus’s role in the Prime series (more-so than it is in any of the mainline Metroid titles) is that of an investigator. By making use of her scan visor, Samus is able to catalog flora and fauna, in addition to structural and environmental elements of her surroundings. It allows her to download data from computer terminals, while also translating archeological findings. Some of this information will be vital to solving puzzles. For example the material composition of a structure may prove weak to a certain weapon which can clue you in to solving a room or indicate that you’ll need to come back later with the appropriate tools. While the color coded doors indicative of the entire franchise are indeed here in full force, progress more often feels naturally gated by legitimate environmental conditions. And circumventing these obstacles requires Samus to investigate and use her knowledge of her own abilities rather than simply match the color of the gun to the door. As you progress other visors will also become available. These generally have multiple applications as well, both in combat and in exploration. For example the thermal visor can help detect the heat coming from conduits behind walls. When paired with the electrically charged wave beam, the thermal visor can then be used to identify and charge these conduits. Because it doesn’t rely on visible light, it is also helpful for navigating pitch black areas, and will highlight enemies (assuming of course that they give off heat).

Combat meanwhile, while it may look like a traditional first-person-shooter, is less about running and gunning than it is about correctly applying the right weapon to the situation. Enemies can almost all be locked onto, removing the focus on precision aiming. While locked on you can still move freely, making it easier to quickly dash out of the way of incoming fire. Since its original release, the new controls provided by both this remaster and the Metroid Prime Trilogy on Wii, have allowed Metroid Prime to be played more like a traditional first-person-shooter, but it's combat is at its best when you’re using the lock-on and focusing more on position and weapon selection.

But speaking of those control changes, they’re one of the biggest quality of life changes this remaster brings to the table. Metroid Prime Remastered includes a brand new dual-analogue setup, similar to any modern first-person-shooter. It also offers modes to mimic the controls of both the original Gamecube game, and the Wii version of the trilogy. A new hybrid mode is also available which allows you to use the dual-analogue setup while activating motion controls any time by holding down R or ZR. The new controls make exploring Tallon IV much smoother. Samus feels a bit less like the tank she did in the original release, and both platforming and many boss encounters are improved significantly by this update.

As for the visual updates, it is honestly hard to know where to begin. Virtually every element of Metroid Prime’s visual makeup appears to have been entirely rebuilt. Brand new geometry covers every surface. I’d often step into a room I’d visited countless times in previous versions only to be caught completely off guard by how incredible it looks. The snow covered land of Phendrana Drifts looks legitimately jaw dropping. Complex shaders fill out every material allowing the world to realistically react to light sources. Select lights also project visible volumetric light into the environment. A reliance on bre-baked lighting means there is a lack of real time dynamic lighting in the environment so things like swaying foliage don’t cast accurate shadows, but the baked lighting is of high enough detail that it rarely proves to be an issue.The reflection of Samus in her visor is more animated and responsive. It is hard to find anything that gives away Metroid Prime's roots on the Gamecube. All at an incredibly constant 60 frames-per-second. In the two hours of footage I tested I was never able to pick up on a single dip in performance. Even when alpha effects fill the screen Metroid Prime Remastered pushes forward flawlessly. Image quality is sharp both docked and handheld. Docked turns in a resolution count of 900p while handheld mode lands just shy of native resolution at about 600p. Given the overall graphical quality of the game as a whole, these resolutions are pretty impressive. While the image is often somewhat raw, it's only in select high contrast situations that pixel crawl will stand out along edges. Luckily in most instances aliacing is kept to a minimum thanks to the inherently subdued color pallet of the art style.

If I had any concerns about how Metroid Prime would stand up in a modern lens, they were instantly dispelled by this remaster. This is legitimately one of the best looking and best playing games on the platform. It will make you look at your Switch and scream “You could do this the whole time?”. Metroid Prime Remastered is the most impressive remaster Nintendo has ever produced. It is loyal to the original in its re-working of its art, yet unafraid to push the absolute boundaries of those original designs. The underlying brilliance of Retro’s original masterpiece shines forth from this new shell, pristine as ever. This is the definitive release of one of the greatest video games ever made, and an incredible glimpse into the future of the Prime series.

Offline Stratos

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Re: Metroid Prime Remastered (Switch) Review
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2023, 01:04:31 PM »
I think the only thing I am disappointed about this release is that it is not the whole trilogy. Hopefully they do the other two and don't leave it as this one before Prime 4 drops.
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Offline Enner

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Re: Metroid Prime Remastered (Switch) Review
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2023, 02:42:41 PM »
The "Citizen Kane of games" has returned!

Offline M.K.Ultra

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Re: Metroid Prime Remastered (Switch) Review
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2023, 11:02:58 AM »
I pre-ordered the physical version of the game and I was glad to see it was only $40 in the US.

Offline twofiftyone

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Re: Metroid Prime Remastered (Switch) Review
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2023, 11:25:31 AM »
Don't worry Stratos, there'll be time for thousands of games to come out, by the time they actually release Metroid Prime 4

Offline Morningshark

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Re: Metroid Prime Remastered (Switch) Review
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2023, 10:07:32 PM »
I've started this game on the Wii Trilogy several times, but and really enjoyed it. But I always got lost or stuck once I hit the Phendrana Drifts. For whatever reason, the shadow drop of this game worked on me. Bought it right away and beat it before the weekend was over. The new dual-stick plus gyro controls were what I desperately wanted when I was frustrated by the Wii controls. Super pretty new coat of paint over a really fun game. Great review, John. I enjoyed reading.
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