Metroid Prime 3: Corruption – First Thoughts

With the long Labor Day weekend, I was able to get in some quality gaming time, something I’ve been missing in recent months (damn job, taking up all my time!).  To fill the weekend, I borrowed a coworker’s copy of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for the Wii.

Now, it’s important to note that I am absolutely terrible at console shooters.  Prime 1 on the GameCube was such a frustratingly painful experience I wasn’t able to put in more than a few hours.  I never even beat the first major boss.  After that, I never even game Prime 2: Echos a chance.  For me, a shooter needs a mouse and a keyboard.  Thumbsticks just don’t cut it.

Why then bother with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption?  I have a Nintendo Wii, and outside of Zelda and Paper Mario, I haven’t had much reason to play it since I bought it on launch day.

I’ve managed to put in about 5 solid hours on the game now, and while I’m miles and miles from completing it, I felt I put in enough time to at least toss out my initial thoughts.

Controls

Like I said, console shooters and I don’t mix well.  In fact I think it would be safe to say that I’d have a better chance of getting a date with a movie star than I would of finishing a console shooter.  This is an important point to focus on considering my feelings towards Corruption’s controls:

They work!

After an hour of trying to do battle with the default option of “lock on camera but not gun” and switching it to the traditional (camera = gun), I was blasting bad guys no problem.  Using the wiimote to aim the gun (and your view), coupled with the nunchuck for actual movement works great.  I’m able to move, strafe, shoot, dive and jump around bad guys without any trouble.  I wish I had these controls for the original game.

Then there’s the use of the motion sensitivity of the controls to perform special actions.  There’s something very satisfying about doing the actual hand motions to turn a nob, or prime a pump.  The method to grapple stuff off of walls and bad guys is also very well executed.

For the first time in ages, the controls have not gotten in my way on a console game.

Graphics

The Wii is not a graphics powerhouse.  It’s a souped-up GameCube with some really nifty bells and whistles.  What that means is that Corruption can’t compete with the likes of Gears of War, or BioShock.  However it’s still a very nice looking game.  TO make up for the lack of sheer power, Retro Studios made up for it with style.  Objects and characters have very distinct looks, and they all fit very well in their surroundings.

Stylistically, Retro has proven itself a worthy custodian of the franchise.  Metroid still looks like Metroid, which is a good thing!

Sound

Sound in Corruption is serviceable.  It’s not fantastic, and it’s not bad.  It does its job, and little more.  The only stand-out item so far in terms of audio is the music, when it kicks in.  The game loads up with a haunting choral piece.  That sort of music comes back in at certain crucial points in the game, lending extra weight to what is about to happen.

Gameplay

You remember past Metroid games right?  To go forward 2 rooms, you have to backtrack through 30.  Even if you’re expecting this, it can still be painfully frustrating to realize you just did battle with nasty Space Pirates, rival bounty hunters, and solved fiendishly difficult puzzles only to discover that to go through that next door, you need a weapon enhancement that’s actually on the other side of the planet, through an equally difficult set of rooms.  When you get there you’ll discover you need something else to get at the weapon bit, and begin back-tracking again through an area you cleared hours ago.

Expect to come across areas you can see, but can’t get to.  Doors you can’t yet open, and bosses you simply can not defeat.  There will often be no indication of where you need to go to progress, and you will waste tons of time going back and forth over old areas, trying to find what you might have overlooked.

I often get the feeling in Metroid games that I’ve somehow managed to go through areas in the exact opposite order from what the developers intended.

Frustration with the game style aside, I’ve been having a great time with Metroid so far.  The introduction of the rival bounty hunters, the PED suite, the element of your body becoming corrupted and Dark Samus are great additions to what has always been a fun series.

Solid controls, good (if frustrating) gameplay.  A worthy addition thus far to the Wii catelog.