By Sam Coles:
Metroid may not be the franchise it once was these days but back in the early 2000’s during the GameCube’s lifecycle the Metroid Prime games were king. However it wasn’t always the case as a lot of people were hesitant of Samus journeying into the realm of the third dimension. Metroid Prime was announced in the year 2000 and was announced that an unproven (at the time) third party studio called Retro Studios would take helm of the franchise. They announced that it was going to be a first person shooter and a lot of fans did not like the idea of turning Metroid into a shooter, but when the game came out it was praised by fans and critics. Does Metroid Prime still hold up 16 years later? Surprisingly yes it still feels like a modern game.
Metroid Prime begins in space where Samus is sent to a space station with a destress signal which is suspended above a planet called Talon 4. It turns out the space pirates are up to no good once again and Samus must clear them out, kill the parasitic queen and then escape as everything crumbles around her. Her old nemesis Ridley turns out to be alive but this time rocking a metal body as he is then dubbed Meta Ridley, he ends up attacking Samus and she ends up losing her Varia suit and all of her abilities the usual set up. She then goes to the surface of Talon 4 and ends up exploring the ancient ruins where she discovers a material called Phazon which has corrupted the wild life. The story like in all Metroid games is very much environmental based so you choose your own level of immersion similar to Half-Life and I like this sort of storytelling as it never gets in the way of gameplay.
The gameplay is a mix of first person shooting, exploration and platforming which all gel together to make a great experience. You would think with the new perspective that the shooting would take centre stage, but it doesn’t as it retains the same Metroid style where it’s all about soaking up the environments. The lore of worlds you explore were fleshed out more as you have the ability to scan pretty much anything even enemies, it makes the world feel alive that these lifeforms and structures have been there for thousands of years. Combat is fast and tight with smooth aiming, but it does compensate for the fact that it is a console shooter by including auto targeting I never felt like I was wrestling with the controls.
The presentation is still amazing for a game that is 16 years old with beautiful weather effects from the murky rain soaked swamps to the dry and baron deserts with ancient ruins. The character model of Samus is highly detailed with a nice shine. The game runs at a smooth frame rate of 60 frames per second and I’m astonished considering the graphical detail.
I’m surprised how well Metroid Prime has aged considering its how old it is because not a lot of games from the early 2000’s have aged gracefully. If you have a GameCube pick it up or you can play it on the first model of the Wii via backwards compatibility or if you own a Wii U you can download it with the other two games via the E-Shop.