Finally a Metroid game on par with the original, and just as memorable in every way; A fitting conclusion.
The game opens in the same reasonably tame manner you've come to expect from a Metroid game, giving the same air of vacancy in the universe when suddenly you're overtaking a huge fleet of warships identified as the Galactic Federation. For the first time in a Metroid game you'll actually get to see and hear the characters behind your contracts. While the voice acting seems relatively poor for more of the actors given some of the games with some great voicing in them, (The Darkness and Gears of War), it's passable but not by much. Most of the voice cast seems to have little acting experience and carries the feel of the dialog poorly, which is a shame because the opening cinematic would be memorable otherwise. However, the voice of the Aurora Unit and Sargent were noticeably well done. In terms of other audio design, Corruption is simply flawless to the untrained ear. All typical sounds you expect to hear in a Metroid game are back, well updated and others added and glossed over to feel very Metroid at heart. I was pleased that all missing music from Echoes was masterfully re-implemented (such as the overworld theme and the space pirate attack song).
Once you get your orders everything goes to hell and the G.F.S. Valhalla is attacked and the game begins! Corruption embraces the same opening structure as the original Metroid Prime planting you on a sinking ship and then thrusting you into a world with no directions. Once you make planetfall however everything changes, you're then given instructions throughout the rest of the game via a comm system with actual spoken dialog instead of just a computer readout (don't worry, the readouts are still there). Which is depressing since the lure of Metroid (at least from my perspective) is the amazing sense of being completely alone in the world which is usually conveyed with a sense of destruction and abandonment – something that is hard to do if you are interacting with other characters, but it certainly does lend to the realism. Samus would certainly receive mission-critical updates from the authority that hires her.
Yet another first in the series, in the beginning of the game after you escape from the sinking ship the Valhalla you land on the nearby planet where a Galactic Federation outpost has been constructed you'll do battle with space-pirates alongside 3 other bounty hunters that will mysteriously disappear once some stuff happens (and you'll get through the PED suit craziness) and makes for interesting encounters throughout the course of the entire game. A new feature for any Metroid game previously released is an AI that aids you. Rather than a Halo-esque single AI unit like Cortana, Corruption features multiple linked AI entities that act as a single intelligence. These beings are unlike most (if not all) game intelligences seen before in gaming, they are organic beings. Called Aurora Units these semi-synthetic beings act as self-aware super-computers able to process and analyze data as you gather it during your adventure. This also allows a more realistic approach to how Samus discovers information about weapons caches and Chozo technology. Speaking of the Chozo, while they are not the focal point or a side investigation via hieroglyphics, there are many amazing Chozo locations spread across many areas that Samus will investigate throughout the course of the entire game. This far exceeds the previous games in terms of scope. Spanning a spaceship, a planet and a town floating in the sky (with a couple more surprises) this is by far the most expansive Metroid game ever. Not only expansive but each area has a singular and distinct feel. By the time the game is over, you'll feel as if you have covered quite a bit of ground. Mainly since for the first time ever, you'll be able to move your ship from place to place on command as well as use it for air-strikes amongst other things which expand the feeling of depth on a planetary scale.
With all the space to explore, many were concerned with the graphics from previews shown the on the internet and at E3, it was said that it looked no better on the Wii than on the Gamecube. Unfortunately, the true beauty of Metroid can only be seen in person on a widescreen 480p TV screen. Unlike previous installments, the graphics are crisp, clean, and looked anti-aliased to an extend we haven't seen on Wii games yet. Most noticeably, without looking at the textures and environments – particles and effects will jump out at you and make you pay attention to them. These effects are much more advanced than anything possible on the Gamecube. A benefit that the Wii has, that the 360 and PS3 certainly do not, is the ability to run a first-person shooter at an easy 60 frames a second with dozens of characters on-screen with rapid aiming movement and no image-tearing by the GPU. Someone playing Metroid Prime 3: Corruption may not notice, but going from that to The Darkness or a Tom Clancy game is a noticeable difference, even Gears of War looks slow by comparison. Like any exploration she's had in the past, Samus will face enemies like she's never seen before. As you would imagine, controls would be an issue for any game developers, any but Retro Studios that is. Seemingly painstaking options for controls were given for any playing style. Newcomers can have a watered down system for a lock-on fire mode simply by holding the “Z” Button, while people familiar or able to quickly adapt to the Wiimote controls can have 2 other (aim speeds vary on these) control options. These last two options allow for independent aiming while having a target lock which allows for the most precise aiming and movement.
Since the Wii is the only machine that you can make a game where the shooting is the most fun and the most involving, they made the enemies much more difficult because as a result, were more fun to fight. When you see a space pirate or two coming at you instead of blowing them off with a couple rockets, they'll roll to the side, flank and try to pin you down in a very fun and a very overwhelming “oh sh*t” moment. Unfortunately, the studio decided to forgo a multiplayer mode of any type in the third installment of the series, deciding to focus the efforts on a geat single-player adventure. While the studio successed without question, it is regrettable and dissapointing that when Nintendo finally decided to include an online structure in their system – one of the biggest titles this year would ignore it. All is not lost, Corruption is not only of the largest games in the franchise, it is also one of the longest. Initial play-throughs of the game yeilded nothing under 23 hours of game time – although I'm more than sure some people out there will finish it in around 20 hours, I can easily see a more casual approach taking 25-30 hours to complete.
With all things said and done, Metroid Prime 3 successfully trumps the original Metroid Prime as the most impressive and expansive action-shooter of all time. Even the (still) iffy principal of having other bounty hunters to deal with, the story was delivered with as many twists and turns as you could expect from any Metroid game you've ever played before. This review can't even begin to cover half of the new and amazing title from Retro Studios.
** Some of the content in this review has been specifically glanced over or detail has been omitted to prevent the public from spoilers or story elements **