Metroid Prime takes the good aspects of many different game genres and combines them to create one of the most atmospheric experiences ever. It really can’t be compared to any game out right now; it is simply one of the most original games. The best way for me to describe is a first person Zelda. Metroid Prime puts equal emphasis on puzzles and action, but each is done in a way that is very fun and deep. Metroid Prime controls very differently than any other game on current consoles. The control stick controls movement forward and backward, as well as turning. The L button locks on to enemies. The R button controls looking around, as well as manual aiming. The X button switches between morph ball mode and first person mode. The Z button is used to bring up a detailed map. The C stick is used to cycle through weapons, and the d-pad cycles through different visors. The controls may take a little while to get used to, because it is very tempting to grab both sticks and try to play it like other FPS on consoles. However, the controls do become second nature and feel very natural after awhile, as well as make sense. The result of this unique control style is the ability to take part in complex puzzles, as well as still retain a good combat system. The puzzles in the game involve a lot of exploration, and a lot of observation. The scan visor assists with this, as it gives clues as to destructible terrain and hidden objects. Puzzles in this game never get frustrating, and they are always very rewarding and entertaining. It is important to check everything in a particular room, because there is usually a way to solve the puzzle. There is a lot of variation in the puzzles, and none of them become repetitive. They are always fun. Combat in the game may seem way too simplified upon first mention that it involves a lock on system. However, the game takes into account that since aiming is easier than normal FPS, other aspects have to make it more challenging. For example, enemies are just as accurate as you, and if you’re not careful, you can take heavy damage fast. Because of this, quick dodges have to be utilized in order to avoid damage. Boss fights in the game act as the game’s exams, they test whether or not you have learned to fight with the game’s unique system, as well as learned to observe weaknesses with the scan visor. Though the combat is fun, it certainly isn’t as deep or exciting as a FPS; it just doesn’t really have the sense of satisfaction with it as do most FPS. Backtracking is another issue that may get people worried. I have to admit that I was skeptical about this aspect of the game when I first heard it was included. But after playing this game, I have realized that it adds to the atmospheric feeling of the game. Rather than played through levels with one or two set paths, the game is played out in a world that seems real, it seems like it just exists, it wasn’t designed. In this way, there is no backtracking. Metroid Prime’s world can be thought of as a RPG’s world map – you have to visit areas more than once simply because of the nature of the game. Visually, Metroid Prime has some of the best graphics on the GameCube. Metroid Prime doesn’t go for a totally realistic look, and this effect really adds to the experience. Though the art style isn’t very realistic, the graphical touches in the game certainly are. Rain will fall onto Samus’ helmet, large explosions will cause her face to be reflected on the visor, and after exiting a pool of water, water will run off of the helmet. In another sequence, rain falls onto an invisible platform, which appears like rain is just hovering in mid air. These graphical touches truly make a difference towards adding to the atmosphere. As for sound – this area may seem more disappointing. In terms of music, there are a few tracks that play throughout the game, and though none of them are particularly annoying, they do get repetitive after awhile. The music doesn’t hurt the experience, though. Sound effects fare much better, and they are all well done. Not much more needs to be said about Metroid Prime. It is one of the best experiences in this console generation, and it ranks with the best that not just the GameCube has to offer, but the PS2 and the Xbox as well.