Metroid Prime 3: Corruption Hands-On - Defending the Federation

Nintendo showed off an action-packed new level from Retro Studios' "new-gen" shooter, and we played all the way through it.

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NEW YORK--At Nintendo's press event you could find a new playable build of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, one that contained the entire level on display back at E3 as well as an entirely new level from elsewhere in the game that we ran through. Just in case you're wondering, the game still plays just like it did in May--Retro has done a good job of mapping the Metroid Prime formula to the new Wii controls, and we didn't have much trouble getting the aiming, movement, and lock-on abilities to work after getting a feel for the game in just a few minutes.

The learning curve was eased a bit when we were tipped off to the newly added remote sensitivity settings, currently being referred to as "advanced" and "expert" control. As far as we could tell, these only affected the look sensitivity (similar to mouse sensitivity in PC shooters) and not any other controls. We found expert to be a little too erratic for our taste (or perhaps our unskilled hands), but advanced seemed like a happy medium that let us aim more precisely and turn more quickly. We'd like to see a sensitivity slider like in many PC games, but it's still good to see Wii developers like Retro paying some mind to control customization.

Anyway, on to the new level, which is set aboard a large Federation starship while the entire fleet is under attack. Immediately it was obvious that Corruption will feature more-involved dramatic sequences mixed into the gameplay--we saw a cutscene first thing in which Samus is instructed by the ship's commander to head down to the planet below. But before she could do that, the ship came under direct attack by nearby enemy ships, and we had to set off--amid a harrowing invasion by what appeared to be space pirates--to find the escape route and get ourselves planetside.

We fought our way through several corridors of the ship, shooting down space pirates and other lesser enemies and occasionally seeing another in-game scripted event. In one, a friendly soldier was running ahead of us, until an enemy ship plowed right through the hull and obliterated the soldier before our own ship closed the airlock and sealed off the breach. We could also see the battle raging outside every large window we passed, with massive capital ships trading fire and occasionally buying the farm in a nice display of pyrotechnics. We also became curious about the nature of the attackers, since we encountered one spot where it seemed a biotechnological ship of some kind was eating right into our own metal one.

After we entered a room in which the power source for the doorways had been removed, we had to play tag with the space pirate who had stolen the energy cell so we could return it to its rightful place and power the room again. This required a little creative use of the Wii remote: We had to physically insert and then rotate the power cell clockwise to get it to lock into place, similarly to the minor motion-based puzzles seen in the E3 demo a few months ago. This was basically just a matter of thrusting the Wii remote outward, and then turning it to the right--but it was neat to see our motions mirrored by Samus onscreen, all the same.

Unfortunately, powering up the room allowed in a torrent of tiny, beetle-like enemies, ones that we couldn't even lock onto. So we had no choice but to flee the room through a morph-ball exit, spraying down as many of the critters as we could before we got there. This dropped us down into what looked like a fuel tank, and we were able to use the morph ball to open the airlock and literally float outside the ship (during a cutscene) before crashing in through another window in a rear area of the ship.

Next, we encountered an area where we had to shoot down a number of small flying enemies, which would raise and lower energy shields at random. Interestingly, we couldn't lock onto these guys either, so it seems Retro is throwing in a few challenges that will require you to actually aim with the remote, rather than just rely on the lock-on throughout the game. It didn't help that some space pirates were harrying us from a high ledge, though at least we could lock onto them.

Finally, we entered a room with a bunch of pirates and a few double-jump platforms that were blocking our way to the missile upgrade at the top of the room. We used a missile to blow our way through a pile of debris blocking the exit, which caused the game to switch over to a cutscene depicting a massive armored creature thundering toward Samus. She switched her ship into remote auto-pilot mode, dug in her heels, and prepared to face the boss--and then the demo ended. What a tease.

Corruption is looking like the most robust and cinematic game yet in the Metroid Prime series, what with its fine aiming mechanic and in-game dramatic sequences that unfold around you. The graphics are consistent with what we saw back at E3--the techno-industrial corridors and cavernous docking bays are stylistically very similar to the past two games, and the overall visual quality is on par with a really, really good-looking GameCube game. Alas, it was confirmed this morning that we won't see Corruption this year--the game is officially a 2007 release--but then, we'll be happier if Retro takes all the time it needs anyway.

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