In a word, yes. The controls are spot-on, the environments are evocative, and the boss battles are frantic. There is a superb balance between exploration and combat, and the backtracking aspect the series is known for remains although it has been streamlined and tightened up in such a way that getting hopelessly lost is a rarity. This may be a disappointment to some, but what is gained in exchange more than makes up for the slight shift towards linearity.
The game’s plot isn’t going to win any prizes for originality but it serves to keep the action flowing quite nicely. I won’t go into any potential spoiler details, but the game features Samus and a collection of fellow bounty hunters being recruited by the Galactic Federation to repel a series of Space Pirate attacks. This mission will take Samus to multiple planets, from the Federation military base on Norion to the stratospheric Skytown on Elysia and beyond.
Each world is unique and graphically impressive and their brilliant design motivates you to seek out all of the hidden passages and secret goodies sprinkled throughout. Much has been made about Retro’s artists and the praise is well-deserved. It would be truly impressive to see what these guys could do visually on one of the HD systems. As it is, Retro shows that the Wii can produce some gorgeous imagery in its own right.
You cover a lot of terrain during the adventure, and a faulty control scheme would severely handicap your progress. Thankfully, Metroid’s controls are as good as advertised. Looking and aiming is done with the pointer. Shooting is handled by the A button, the B button jumps, Z locks onto targets, and C transforms Samus into her Morph Ball. The down button fires missiles, and although you get used to it in short order there is no denying that it isn’t as intuitive as it should be. The minus button brings up a HUD where you can select from your various visors, and the plus button activates Hypermode. The 1 button brings up the in-game menu and map.
There are three control schemes to choose from. I played the game using the Advanced controls, and I would recommend that setup to anyone new to the game. After an hour of play time it was simple to cruise through the levels with ease. At first I found the setup to be as good as dual-analog but not necessarily better. However, by midway through the game I came to believe that the Wii controls are superior to traditional control. Aiming is a breeze and offers pinpoint accuracy. The game just controls so smoothly that it’s hard to go back to dual-analog controls. It’s not as groundbreaking as dual-analog was when it made its debut, but it’s a definite improvement. I can’t wait to get my hands on future Wii FPS titles.
Those who fear that Prime 3 is too linear now needn’t fear. You get lost much less, yes, but what you lose in backtracking is more than made up for in revamped and more enjoyable combat. In the first Prime game, combat was a chore and I normally tried to avoid it as much as I could. Not so in Prime 3. The new controls scheme makes fighting Space Pirates and the various other monsters inhabiting the Metroid universe a blast. Whereas before in Prime 1 it was only fun to fight the bosses, Corruption makes killing the grunts equally desirable. Speaking of bosses… Prime 3 has some of the best boss battles I’ve experienced in a game for a long time. These battles are also made sweeter by the controls and are an absolute blast to play. They are definitely one of the game’s highlights.
Corruption’s primary gimmick, Hypermode, is also a solid addition. Early on the game you gain the ability to switch in and out of Hypermode while sacrificing an energy cell. Doing so washes out the game’s color pallet and slows the action slightly in bullet-time style. While activated, Hypermode enhances your attacks and makes killing the game’s enemies all the easier. Of course, there is a drawback to this ability aside from the loss of health. While in Hypermode, a meter at the top of the screen displays the amount of Phazon you have available for use. Shoot too quickly and the Phazon depletes to a point that takes you out of Hypermode. Since the meter fills on its own you can pace your attacks so as to stay in Hypermode longer, but be warned: do this too long and the ability malfunctions and the meter begins filling much more rapidly. If you fail to expel the Phazon by firing your weapons before the meter fills up you become corrupted and die. It is an interesting (and crucial) ability that is both very cool and very well implemented.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of Prime 3. Words can’t do this game justice- you have to play it to notice the attention to detail and the effort that went into in. The game is amazingly smooth, the graphics are amazing, and the gameplay is both cerebral and frantic. If you own a Wii then you are missing out if you don’t pick this game up. Is it the best game on the system? Perhaps, although Zelda gives it a run for its money. In the end it will come down to taste whether or not you think this game is better than Twilight Princess, but either way its an impressive title that is well worth the price of admission. Nice job Retro. Well done.