The revamped controls, along with memorable environments and boss battles, make this the best, most immersive Prime yet.

User Rating: 8.5 | Metroid Prime 3: Corruption WII
When the legendary Metroid series first made the leap from 2D to 3D with 2002’s Metroid Prime, the results were surprisingly successful. Prime managed to capture the distinct sense of atmosphere and exploration that made the classic Metroid games so memorable, along with the unique weapons and abilities so central to the series, and translated them into something that felt fresh and new while still being distinctly Metroid. The one area where perhaps Prime and its sequel, 2004’s Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, fell short, was in the controls. Samus Aran no longer felt like quite the same agile character she had been in the 2D games. But now Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is here, and it gives the controls a total overhaul, while also providing some of the most compelling environments, terrific puzzles, and sensational boss battles the series has seen. All these elements add up to make Corruption the best Metroid Prime game yet.

Corruption picks up where Echoes left off, but no firsthand knowledge or experience with the first two games is necessary to enjoy or appreciate this one. You return as bounty hunter and amateur welder Samus Aran, who is tasked with helping the Galactic Federation rid the galaxy of the menace of this nasty blue stuff called Phazon once and for all. Since Samus typically works alone, fans of earlier Metroid games may be a bit taken aback by the fact that, in the early stages of this game, there are other people around for you to interact with, but don’t worry; before long Samus leaves everyone behind, and most of the game provides the same sense of isolation that Metroid fans have come to expect. As with previous Prime games, you can essentially take or leave most of the story as you see fit, as the majority of it is told through computer terminals, ancient works of art and other things that you can analyze and read about, or simply ignore. Those who do care about the story, though, will find that Corruption presents a satisfying conclusion to the Metroid Prime story arc while also giving the series a more significant connection to the overall Metroid saga.

The thing that really sets the experience of playing Corruption apart is the new control scheme. You use the Wii remote to aim and to turn, while using the nunchuk to move. It’s totally intuitive and it works really well. Accessing all of your various visors and powers is a breeze and many of those powers are simply a lot of fun to use. For instance, your grapple lasso, which lets you do things like rip shields out of the arms of your enemies, is used by making a forward motion with the nunchuk and then yanking it back to mimic Samus’ actions. The Prime games have always strived to be immersive, and there’s no question that the new controls in Corruption greatly improve the game’s ability to make you feel like you’re standing in Samus’ suit.

As you might expect, the controls speak to the potential the Wii has for first-person shooters, but although you’ll do a good amount of blasting in Corruption, this is still very much an adventure game, with strong elements of puzzle-solving and exploration. It’s a good thing, then, that while improving the controls, the developers at Retro Studios didn’t skimp on the quality of the other aspects of the game. In fact, the environments you’ll explore here include some of the most interesting the series has seen. Some of the areas are rather standard fare in terms of concept, though even these, like a derelict space vessel and a jungle area, are very well done. Others are more original. Perhaps most memorable is an area called Skytown, which floats high above the surface of a planet and resembles a cross between The Empire Strikes Back’s Cloud City and a realm of gears and machinery that you might see in one of the Myst games. The puzzles are also very solid, and make frequent and excellent use of your various visors and abilities.

Indeed, this game lives up to the Metroid pedigree in every way. In addition to the environments and puzzles, you’ll get the very satisfying sense of becoming gradually more powerful as you acquire more energy, weapons and abilities. You’ll also find yourself in a number of exciting, multi-stage boss battles. And you’ll do a fair amount of backtracking as well. Yes, for better or for worse, having to revisit areas you’ve already been seems to be part and parcel of the Metroid experience, and some players will probably appreciate this while others will probably find it frustrating. It can certainly be rewarding, revisiting a planet with a new ability that lets you access areas you couldn’t reach before. At the same time, some players may find that it brings the game’s momentum to a screeching halt to be told you don’t have what you need in order to progress and that you’ll have to hike back to your ship, fly to another planet and then come back again once you’ve gotten what you need. The game cuts down on the potential frustration associated with this somewhat by giving you a few spots on each planet where you can land your ship so you’ll never have too far to go to get back to it, but players should be fully aware going in that, as with most Metroid games, backtracking makes up a rather significant part of the game.

Metroid Prime 3 looks and sounds great. The graphics are very sharp and the environments are intricate and detailed. The game runs smoothly but there are frequent loading times, cleverly disguised by doors. You’ll often find yourself waiting about five or ten seconds for a door to open and let you in to the next area. The music is terrific and fits the mood of the various environments very well, and the sound effects are superb as well, from the distinctive noises made by all the different weapons and enemies to atmospheric sounds like storms rumbling far below you on the planet’s surface when you’re in Skytown. The voice acting can be a tad on the hokey side at times, but there isn’t enough of it to really affect the overall experience.

Most players will probably find that the game takes them somewhere around 20 hours their first time through, though of course it can be completed in much less time if you know exactly where you need to go and what you need to do. Seasoned players who like their games to be on the challenging side should probably opt for the veteran difficulty from the get-go, as the normal setting is quite easy for the most part.

Retro Studios has done it again, and better than ever. They’ve once again successfully translated all the elements that make Metroid what it is into the 3D realm, while vastly improving the controls to help make this game even more immersive than its predecessors. Ultimately, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is a memorable and thoroughly satisfying adventure that any gamer with a bit of patience for backtracking will probably find extremely worthwhile.