Metroid Prime 2: Echoes "Echoes? No Wonder I saw this already..."
arguement's sake, lets say that this person is under assignment from
the...we'll call them police...we will not name this person. This person
finds themself in a world where more than one dimension exists. Pretty
hefty, huh? Not only this, but this person's doppelganger shows up to
try to kill him.
You think I'm talking about Metroid Prime 2, don't you? This is, after
all a Metroid review. Nope, I just described Jet Li's opus, "The One"
(2001). Not only that, I also covered "Future War" (1997), and about 30%
of all Star Trek episodes and DC comics.
I did this to get a point across about originallity in late Gamecube
titles: There was none. None at all. There was a total lack of originallity.
Let's look at the story of Aether. Samus Aran travels to this planet
under Galactic Federation orders to investigate a distress signal or
something. There, she finds, not only the planet Aether, but a Dark
Aether as well--hosting shadowey, tough, aggressive counterparts to many
Aetherian creatures. The planet's sentient race--the 'Luminoth"--have
been engulfed in a century-long war with the darkling creatures, the
"Ing", and are on the verge of defeat. The only explaination the game
gives is that a meteor struck the planet and tore it into two universes.
Samus' mission soon changes into a "defend the light world journey across
three sections of the planet and their respective dark-world
counterparts. Then comes "Dark Samus" to mess things up.
I don't know, but Nintendo seems to be lacking subtlety. I mean,
seriously, DARK SAMUS? How about we rename the Ing "BLACK LUMINOTH" or
perhaps "THE EVIL DARK WORLD COUNTERPARTS TO THE SENTIENT LUMINOTH."
Thing is, the name is misleading. Dark Samus is actually the remains of
Metroid Prime (from the previous title) reborn using the schematics of
Samus' Phazon Suit absorbed during that final battle in the impact crater
of Tallon IV. Calling the...thing...Dark Samus is a little bit too much.
Ignoring the lack of an original story (as well as the lack of an
original enemy, despite the enemy's obviously original origins) we go to
the game criticism.
The gameplay is much the same as Metroid Prime--albeit much more combat
oriented and with much more difficult puzzles. Samus may use portals to
travel between the dark and light versions of Aether. This is necessary
to solve nearly all puzzles in the game, most of which involve traveling
to Aether's twin to do something stupid like activating a bomb slot to
rotate a bridge in the light world. Some puzzles are excedingly
complex--some bordering on brutal. This is not like in the previous
title where a scan and a little exploration would give away the answers.
This game will sometimes tell you where to go (only if you REALLY mess
up) but not what you have to do or what you need to acquire to get there.
Its a good thing the world is so small...
Yes, the world of Aether is very small. In Metroid Prime, there were six
different areas to explore including a rainforest and a desert. In
Metroid Prime 2, there are three (four if you count the basic overworld)
different places to journey including that same desert and rainforest
level. Sure, adding darkworld counterparts to these areas helps make the
game larger, but this seems more like a cheap move. Besides, is is
impossible for one to travel to seperate dark world areas without some
movement through the light world. The dark worlds are not connected the
way the light world is. This gives the overall impression that the dark
world is not there to expand on the universe of the game--but to serve as
seperate, individual puzzles that were never meant to be brought together
as one living, breathing mass.
The world just feels small and uninspired.
This game is the first to bring the idea of beam ammunition. Of course
the game would be too easy if one could keep using the overly powerful
Dark and Light beams (each does massive dammage to creatures of its
opposite polarity), so players must be cautious to save their shots and
to refill their ammo stock whenever possible. This is a good
idea--albeit an idea that makes using missile combos nearly catastrophic.
Upgrading the Light beam with the sunburst (or the Dark beam with the
darkburst) not only burns 5 missiles, but 30 units of beam ammo. For
players with a maximum ammo stock of 250 (if they acquire all 4 beam ammo
expansions) this is not even worth it.
There are 2 visors other than the combat and scan visors that samus may
acquire. The Dark Visor allows players to track dark world creatures as
well as camoflauged platforms and weaknesses. Not bad. The echo visor,
however, is a catastrophe. Using it, players see sound. Useful against
some enemies and many gimickey puzzles, but not practical as it gives a
grainey, confusing picture and it isn't even used for much in the game
Players will quickly become bored with slow load times outside of doors.
The use of cinematics in elevators and during portal jumping helps mask
the aweful loading periods, but be warned--some of your game will be
spent waiting. Especially irritating is when players must weather this loading cinematic to travel to the dark world to do one simnple thing like scanning a panel just to have to deal with the same cinema on the return trip. The entire operation--one that would normally take 15 seconds, ends-up lasting a minute. Believe me, those minutes add up pretty fast. I have recorded 40-100 hours of gameplay when in fact maybe 10-20 of them were actual playtime.
Sure the game has multiplayer but I don't want to depress myself more than I am already.
I gave this game 6.5/10. Despite all these flaws, the game is okay. It
is not an excellent game, but it is above average--and a good steal. It
is tough, it has a lot of problems, but its still worth a buy if you are a metroid fan like I am.