E3 06: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption Hands-On

We get an early look at the playable demo of Samus' latest adventure on the Wii.

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LOS ANGELES--When we got our first look at the Wii in motion at last year's Tokyo Game Show, one of the games used to show off the potential of the console's unique controller was Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. Given how well the demo worked, we weren't too surprised to see a new Metroid game among those we had the chance to check out recently. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is the third entry in the Prime series. You'll once again play as the original lady action hero Samus Aran. The demo finds her being summoned by a distress call to an outpost under siege.

The visuals in the game are looking sharp and staying true to the sleek art direction that was introduced when the Metroid Prime series kicked off on the GameCube in 2002. The most striking feature was simply the scale of the level we saw. The facility, as seen in the intro cinematic, appeared to be a sprawling complex that had seen better days. Upon landing, Samus disembarks and gets a brief status update from soldiers posted to the platform her ship is resting on. Once you're up to speed, you head out to do your business. The brief portion of the level we played had Samus exploring the installation and taking on enemies.

While the basic action in the demo was the standard Metroid fare, how you got on with it was all new thanks to the Wii controller. Much like our Tokyo Game Show demo, the game relied on the main controller and nunchaku attachment. We moved Samus with the analog stick while we did our looking and aiming by simply pointing the new controller. The B button shot her primary weapon, and when held down, it charged up for a power shot that sucked in nearby items. The directional pad fired missiles. Scanning was tweaked a bit with a translucent reticle coming up that you could "lock" by hitting the C button. When locked onto an enemy you'll be able to perform the same actions you always could. When locked onto an item you can scan you'll have to hold down the A button to initiate it. The Z button initiates your morph ball.

While all of the above is pretty much how you'd expect the control to map out, the grapple beam is a cool use of the controller's unique attributes. In the demo, we came across objects that featured the beam icon above them--a handy tip-off to use the beam. The mechanic for the beam was pretty cool. We had to lock onto the object, then fling the nunchaku, which caused Samus to fire a beam out at it. Once we had it on our line, we used the analog stick to pull it back toward us. Once the debris was cleared, we had our chance to engage in some morph-ball puzzle solving that was initiated with another use of the controller, simulating Samus' hand manipulating a switch. We "grabbed" a handle, pulled it back, twisted it, and pushed it back into a socket with a fair amount of precision.

As far as the visuals go, the game is purring along as smoothly as its GameCube predecessors and is benefiting from a nice sheen of graphical effects that enhance the already impressive look. Right now what we've seen is a solid evolution of the visuals and effects from the Prime games on the Cube, but we expect the game to improve as development continues.

Based on what we played, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is poised to fulfill the potential we saw in Tokyo last year. The basics of using the Wii controller were almost exactly what we wanted and worked well with the familiar Metroid control mechanics. The advanced ways to use the controller, such as the grapple beam, were pretty slick and presented a lot of interesting possibilities. Look for more on Metroid Prime 3: Corruption soon.

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