Metroid Prime

Despite a brief Return to Castle Wolfenstein phase, I’d pretty much stopped playing first-person shooters. But the latest Metroid has proved that the genre can still hold my interest. While most FPS-type games have been deeply exploring the multi-player route, Prime is single-player only. It seems to me that just about any FPS out there would be pretty boring without multi-player action, but Metroid‘s innovations keep the player interested. In my opinion, Prime has taken the FPS to a new level.

The fun of Metroid Prime‘s gameplay stems from the many abilities that Samus Aran (the heroine) can aquire. As the game progresses, you gain new abilties – each one enables you to access to new areas, uncover secrets, and add to your fighting ability. Samus can gain several beam weapons, each of which is stronger or weaker against certain enemies, can be used to open different doors, and blow away different obstacles. Additionally, Samus has missiles which can be used in combination with the beam weapons for powerful combos.

But since Metroid Prime is imaginative, you have more at your disposal than just weapons. Samus’s power suit can be upgraded several times to allow her to withstand harsher environments and navigate them with increased mobility. The grappling hook can be attached to special points, allowing her to swing across otherwise unpassable gaps. And then there are the visors. Samus has her combat visor which is used to lock on to enemies. By switching to the scan visor, you can read computer consoles, learn about enemies, find weaknesses in walls, etc. The infrared visor allows you to see certain enemies and heat-radiating control switches. I believe Samus also gets access to an x-ray visor (haven’t found that one yet).

So already you have quite a lot of variation. But the game also lets you drop into morph ball mode. Samus has the ability to trasform into a small metal sphere, allowing you to roll around the levels. When you aquire the boost ability, you can utilitize half-pipe structures to reach high-up areas. With the spider ball upgrade, the morph ball can traverse magnetic tracks. The morph ball bombs allow you blow open areas and bounce around to find secrets. And of course, the small size of the morph ball allows Samus to slip under obstacles and roll through narrow corridors.

The varied environment forces you to make use of your different abilities – leading to great game play. With so many ways for Samus to move, the game designers were able to create very engaging levels. The graphics are great, as are the sound effects. The music is also really good – spacey and alien-sounding. The story is pretty good, better than most video games for sure. They seem to have some kind of obsession with “parasites”. Half the creatures you encounter are “parasites”, even though their physiology would seem to indicate otherwise. Anyway, an outstanding game… 9/10.

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