Jesus loves me. Very, very much.
Have you ever seen something so amazing that your jaw just dropped and you couldn’t speak? I feel like my fingers are going through something similar as I type this. Metroid Prime is just astonishing...it’s not at all what I expected, but exactly what I wanted.
This is the only way to do Metroid in 3D. I’m convinced of that now. Maybe one day Retro will improve on the formula and add third-person jumping in certain areas or something, but this basic design is simply the only way to put Samus in a 3D world. The atmosphere, the pacing, it’s all perfectly Metroid.
One thing that has really impressed me is the way Prime presents you with so many big, open spaces to explore. It’s not something easily done in the 2D games, but of course it works great in three dimensions. Perhaps even more surprising is how well the classic corridors are implemented; they look a bit different, but the feel is totally there.
So far, my favorite parts of the game are where you have to use the Morph Ball. Of course, you can roll around anywhere you want, but it’s not too practical in most places because there are so many ledges and platforms that require jumping. It makes me wish I had Spring Ball so I could just bounce around everywhere. Still, there are tons of places to use the Morph Ball, and the execution ranges from precision platform rolling to puzzles to sidescrolling (!!!) challenges. But mainly, the Morph Ball just looks and feels very cool. Seeing it in 3D also makes me realize what a weird, unique element it is in this franchise.
Samus’s movements while in the first-person view are well done, but she still doesn’t feel acrobatic enough for me. Perhaps that will improve as I gather more upgrades. The jumping is quite cool and easy to grasp, and I’ve had very few missteps (none of which cost me anything more than time or a bit of energy lost in some lava). I do wish Samus walked a little more swiftly, and unfortunately, I don’t think there’s an upgrade to improve that attribute.
The shooting aspects of the game are, as it turns out, not very much like shooting at all. Sure, there are plenty of enemies, but combat is mainly about your position and movements, especially with the monsters I’m getting to now. The game actually aims for you for the most part; you can look around and shoot freely by holding R, but even then, shots will track on nearby enemies. The default Power Beam fires incredibly quickly, and its particle effects are great, but I was starting to get bored with it after a few hours of playing. Luckily, I just found the next beam weapon...about 33% into the game! (That percentage includes the tons of secret stuff I’ve found and is probably not representative of my actual game progress. I’m a hidden power-up whore, basically. Billy is farther than me but has less than one-third the missile capacity!)
Pretty much everything in the whole game looks fantastic. It’s a somewhat realistic style, but with a very strong sense of science-fiction and fantasy blended in. The polygonal models are sharp as hell, with a very high degree of structural complexity. Textures are generally excellent, though a few do get kind of nasty-looking when viewed from certain angles and distances, especially during cut-scenes. The framerate is simply flawless, and that can make a huge difference in a first-person game.
Prime carries on the strong legacy of Metroid music. To some extent, the techno tunes are a new direction for the series, but I think they fit in perfectly. There’s even one remix that uses extensive choral voice sampling...and it sounds great. Crazy stuff. The sound effects are some of the best I’ve ever heard; when you find a new weapon, part of the fun is shooting it all over the place and hearing the different sounds it can make. I’ve also had a monster’s sound effects point me towards an unseen ledge, which is simply a great moment to experience.
Well, look at what happened. I started off this article at a loss for words, and now I feel like I could ramble on for hours about this beautiful, wonderful game. But I’ll just stop here and hope that you have the good sense to pick up Metroid Prime for yourself and see what all the fuss is about. It lives up to and far exceeds the hype, while smashing down all the doubts I and so many others had even up to the game’s release.