metroid 3 in review

First, let me say up front that I have not finished Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. I did what I have done many times before: I got to the last boss. I fought the last boss to the last phase, came very close to winning, and died. Then I was too frustrated to continue and turned off the game system, meaning that it’ll take me at least twenty minutes to make another attempt – you can’t save once you’re in the final section, you see.

Anyway, it’s a great game, and I highly recommend it. Here are some random thoughts about it in no particular order.

I felt like a number of the big fights were too similar to one another. Several bosses had a “spin around and careen around the circular playing arena” move. I think every body with feet had a “jump up and land, causing a shockwave” attack. Actually, now that I think about it, I think almost every boss battle was held in a circular arena. A few miniboss battles were in generic platformy areas, but nothing sticks out in my memory. I remember a few battles from previous Metroid Prime games that really made the arena part of the battle. The giant moth in Metroid Prime 2 showed up in a giant acid pit with a few platforms and a lot of grapple points. There was at least one boss in Metroid Prime that was basically fought entirely in morph ball form.

As in Metroid Prime 2, metroids themselves were not a major part of the plot, although they were used to great effect as a source of dread. When I arrived aboard a space hulk and started seeing scans reporting, “This corpse has been drained of all energy and is now just a husk,” and “Target died of multiple self-inflicted blasts to the head,” and “Subject seems to have been killed by friendly fire from multiple angles,” I knew I would soon be hearing the terrifying rattling hiss of metroids.

The power-up system is very different from the previous installments. Instead of switching between weapons, the weapon systems stack. The power beam later gets enhanced to become a better beam, and then is enhanced again. Some of the power-ups were very cool, but I also felt like there were fewer. This might just be because I wrote off many of the usual ones as old hat; I haven’t actually compared the count.

There were definitely fewer visors. Previous Primes had four visors, but this one had three, and one was very rarely needed. I felt a little bummed, because the visor system is so cool, but it really did work well.

I felt that the game played a little loose with Samus as a character. It was frustrating to see so many GF grunts tell her to push off, although I’m not sure what the alternative would be. One of the things I learned from writing interactive fiction is that NPCs are really, really hard. She also spent a lot more time with her helmet off, and looked much more cute and anime than previously. I feel like Retro took the more cartoony appearance we’ve seen in Smash Bros. previews and used that, although the reverse may well be true. My thinking is that if I saw Samus, out of her suit, in a dark alley, I should be scared. From what they show us in MP3, I’d be scared for her, not of her.

As always, the graphics were outstanding. The plot was good, and the text outlining the background of the involved races was also very cool. Some of the nice finishing touches from previous games were gone (rain didn’t streak down Samus’s visor, bright lights didn’t show up a refection), but others took their place. For example, melting metal robots into slag with the plasma beam was incredible satisfying.

The map system remained somewhat frustrating and confusing, although it’s a bit better than it was in Echoes. The inclusion of a system for finding missile expansion locations was nice.

There weren’t enough save points, but the addition of checkpoints, from which you’d continue if you died and hadn’t shut off the game, helped a lot. I really wish the checkpoint at the end of the game wasn’t so long before the boss fight, especially since between that checkpoint and the final boss there is an incredibly tedious segment.

Using Samus’s ship was a bit awkward, especially because it had a few controls that never seemed needed. I assume that we’ll see more of it in the next 3-D Metroid.

I’ll probably get back to Corruption again this week to finish it off, which will make it the second Metroid game I’ve ever finished, and the first one I’ve finished in less than months. Maybe that will inspire me to get around to finishing Metroid Prime 2, Metroid Fusion, Metroid Zero Mission, and Super Metroid… but probably not. Nightmare is really, really hard.

Written on September 4, 2007
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