Metroid Prime Trilogy Review (Wii)
Posted by Jim Cook, Oct 20, 2009 01:43
Scope/purpose of article: This review will address two distinct audiences; those who are already familiar with the Metroid Prime series and only have technical questions about this compilation disc, along with those who aren’t familiar with these games at all. If you just have technical questions, skip to page 2 as your concerns should be covered there. If you’re not familiar with the Metroid Prime games, this first page is for you and will explain the game in detail.
Metroid Prime Trilogy is one of the best values on the Wii, bringing you three games (Metroid Prime 1, 2, and 3) all on one disc. While they have some differences between them, they play somewhat similarly in letting you control Samus Aran, heroine in a suit of sci-fi armor, from a first person perspective. Each game is a mix of platforming (maneuvering from one area to the next) and exploration alongside traditional first person combat against various enemies. It would be fair to call this a sci-fi first person shooter, but that only accounts for part of the depth in this series.
While typical first person shooting action does come up a lot, exploration is just as important. You will often find the most direct route between Samus and her objective is blocked, requiring you to either find another way there or, far more likely, search for an item that will let you get past the obstacle. Perhaps the only way forward is to go through a small hole, so you have to find a part that will let Samus’ armor roll into a ball and fit through the gap. Or maybe you need high explosives to blast the door open, so you must find a missile launcher adapter for her suit’s main gun. This gives you some freedom to explore while making sure you can’t access areas you aren’t equipped to handle, and it works quite well. This the same sort of game play that has been part of the Metroid series since even its early 2D days, but the Metroid Prime games bring it all into a 3D, first person perspective.
Exploration is only part of what you’ll be doing, as you also spend a lot of time fighting enemies and bosses. Fighting regular enemies is usually pretty straight-forward; one of your various weapons can probably kill them, so you only need to find the right one and keep shooting and dodging until they’re dealt with. Bosses on the other hand tend to be more involved, attacking with various special patterns until you find their weakness. Finding it could be as simple as scanning them (more on that later) until you find a vulnerable spot to shoot, or may require you to shoot out various things supporting them, at which point you can close in for the kill. Bosses tend to be huge, sometimes several screen-heights tall and almost always memorable in some way. Through this mix of activities, you’re kept reasonably busy and it usually stays very fun.
Each game on the disc has a few different mechanics to it, building on things you learned in the game before it. For this reason I suggest going through them in order. The exact nature of these differences would be a little bit of a spoiler and I wouldn’t dream of ruining the surprise for those who haven’t seen the series in action yet, but it’s fair to say that each game will keep you busy for hours on end; playing through at a casual pace could last months!
As Prime 1 and 2 were both GameCube games, it’s worth pointing out the controls have changed a lot in their Wii versions. Rather than using standard gamepad controls, you now use the Wii Remote plus Nunchuk. Most of your movement is handled by the Nunchuk’s analog stick, while most of your aiming and shooting is done by the Wii Remote. It is a little difficult to get used to at first, but once you adjust you should be moving about just fine, playing at a smooth pace. I had very little trouble doing basic genre tricks like circle-strafing enemies, and felt comfortable with the controls throughout.
It’s worth noting that all of these games have a significant plot to them. Unfortunately, much of it is revealed through the scan visor, a mode where you cannot fire but instead look at objects and zoom in on them for a few seconds. Doing so causes your suit’s display to tell you more about the object, and even read any logs left by the area’s inhabitants to further explain the story. That might be fine, but sometimes you’re expected to do this while under fire and even if not it still requires you to repeatedly sit idle for several seconds scanning every item you come across, which is a real blow to the otherwise excellent pacing. Admittedly Prime 3 is better about this and shows some of the story in a more dynamic fashion, but it’s still a weak spot in these games. In fact, this is one of the few noteworthy flaws the series has.
The other problem is that the sheer scope and layout of some areas can make it hard to tell where you need to go. This can result in wandering around for a while, or in the worst case scenario needing to check a guide/walkthrough for how to proceed. But these instances are pretty rare, and all three games are well documented by now so it’s easy to find help if you need it. Despite how I might make it sound, both this and the scan visor issue are relatively minor problems, and all three games on this disc are superb.
Metroid Prime Trilogy also rewards you for doing important things by letting you unlock various things. Accomplishing something noteworthy like killing a boss will give you a token, and when you gather enough you can spend them in the Extras menu to unlock things like Metroid-related art and music. You can also come across vouchers to send to your friends via WiiConnect24, which will give them tokens to spend. They can do the same to help you out as well, and it’s a neat touch. Combined with the impressive length of each game on this disc, it’s fair to say you’ll be coming back for a while.
The Metroid Prime series did an amazing job of translating the classic mix of 2D exploration and action to a first person/3D perspective, and each game on this disc is very fun. Anyone new to the series will get hours upon hours of solid play out of this and easily get their money’s worth; three top-notch games for fifty dollars is quite the bargain!
Next: Technical Considerations (Differences between this version and the original GameCube releases, etc.)
Rating: 5.0, votes: 1