It's been said a million times now, but this game truly pushes the Nintendo DS hardware to levels never seen before!
Gameplay- 9/10- Metroid Prime Hunters features 8 different playable modes in total, the single player adventure mode and the other seven being multiplayer modes that have different accessibility levels. All of this is controlled by the stylus. You use the stylus on the touch screen to control your aim on the top screen. This is a truly precise way of playing, even though, it has a slight learning curve. Also, weapon switching, scan visor access, and morph ball are all accessed on the touch screen. Many were concerned that accidental pressing of other function would be a rampant problem, but once you’re familiar with the format, it will rarely happen. It is precise & unlike the past full-fledged NDS FPS, it’s glitch-free.
There are two main play modes, adventure & multiplayer. Seeing as how they all have their different mechanics, I’ll go into each of them separately.
Adventure- 8/10- This is the full single player campaign mode of the game. You pilot your way through the Alimbic Cluster though an interface that is on Samus’ Hunter Class ship. This allows you to access a variety of worlds, from an ice planet, to a lava planet, among a couple other areas. But while there are different areas to explore, this game plays different from many other Metroid games.
First of all, you don’t have the classic “lose all your gear, now go find it again” approach. In this game, you start off with many of your abilities at you disposal, with only a few higher ones & new weapons gained along the way. This means more of your time is spent on actually progressing, instead of chasing down that one little piece of armor.
Also, there is a new, interesting mechanic. Because you can mode from world to world at your leisure or to advance further, you can run into the opposing hunters at different times, thanks to them looking for the exact same items you are. This adds a really interesting twist, because you can go to a world one time and run into no one, and the next time, three hunters are breathing down your neck, in different spots.
Even though this mode does have some new parts, it isn’t without faults. To go back to the main point of the game, you are searching for Octoliths, which somehow lead to the secret power. These are, of course, protected by bosses. The problem is that these bosses are the same two templates used a few times, with a slight change to make it a new challenge. While there is a new challenge, you basically know what to do right from the get-go. Also, after each boss, you have to run back to your ship because of some impending explosion. But once you reach your ship, everything just stops, as far as the danger. So it just kind of seems ridiculous that she would have to run from what seems to be nothing. There are also on the rarest occasions slow downs from too much going on, but as said, this is uber rare. So overall, the single player campaign is a great look into an occurrence in-between MP & MP2.
Multiplayer Modes- 10/10- And as has we have been teased by since the demo back in November ’04, this game has a multiplayer mode for you to blast you friends, enemies, and also bots. First, let’s go into some general overviews on the multiplayer side of the game.
For those of you not able to get to the internet, have no DS owning friends, or who just don’t care to play human opponents, the bots in this game are superb. There are three levels setting for them, set by the number of stars you assign them. They will blast you, but they also go after each other. Non-discriminating bots is always a nice thing to see done properly. So for anyone that was afraid they would be wasting their money buying such a multiplayer focused game that doesn’t have WiFi at home, you won’t be missing a thing. These bots are also able to be used for those of you playing your friends to fill in the empty slots.
Also, the idea of the different hunters truly stands out in this mode. There are 2 modes for each character, a bi-ped & alternate form. Also, everyone has different weapons with their own affinities for their own weapon. For example, Trace’s Imperialist allows players to become a sniper. But when Trace has his weapon equipped, he can actually turn invisible by not moving, allowing line-up time. This gives having your own weapon a slight edge. Some hunters also seem to work in different modes better, which will be explained below.
Now to go into the modes more in-depth,
Battle (Deathmatch)- This is your basic mode, to go out, within a time limit, try and reach a certain amount of kills before the other players kill you and reach the kill number. This mode is playable in all multiplayer levels (Single card, Multi-card, WiFi Random, and WiFi Friends & Rivals). Also, this is the only mode accessible for Single card & WiFi Random access. Everything works well, there are a multitude of levels to play at (26 total, when they are all unlocked), and all have their own set up, to keep things interesting.
Survival- In this mode, everyone starts out with a certain number of lives, which means you have to try and survive (clever, huh?) on just that number of lives. But this mode may sound simple enough, get a kill or two, and then hide in a cubby hole. Not so fast, because the game accounts for that. The game actually points out “cowards” and, through a small icon on the screen, points you towards that player. There are a couple other little signals like this that really keep players from trying to just lay low the whole time. It shows Nintendo really took the time to assure that this mode was fun.
Bounty (Free-for-all Capture the Flag)- As said in adventure mode, you search for Octoliths in the game to find a secret power. Well, in this mode, you & up to 3 other hunters know exactly where one is. The only problem is you all know where the same one is & are trying to get that Octolith to a safe point to collect the bounty. So during this mode, the objective is to carry the object back to the safe point (in bi-ped form, alt-form isn’t allowed during carrying) to collect a point & reach the required amount of points, within a time limit. Not allowing alt-form carrying was smart, simply due to the disadvantage some characters possess in alt-form (like Trace being able to outrun anyone in alt or Spire being able to climb walls). This was a nice oversight to not be allowed through.
Defender- This is a fun mode where there is one large ring, in which the goal is to be the only one to be in the area for a certain amount of time. The amount of time isn’t consecutive, but an aggregate time of the total of being alone in the area. Whoever reaches the limit wins. Unfortunately, some characters possess a clear affinity for this game, simply due to the close-range nature of this mode, but it’s not anything that can be helped, just pick your hunter accordingly.
“Prime Hunter”- This mode is interesting, the first person to score a kill becomes the “Prime Hunter.” They are now the main target of everybody else on the field. The objective as the “Prime Hunter” is to stay the “Prime Hunter” for as long as possible, trying to reach the total time that it takes to win. Sounds easy, right? Well, not really, because you constantly lose life in this mode. When you are in that position, the only way to gain life is to keep killing. Power orbs don’t help you at all. The only way to become the “Prime Hunter” after there is one is to A) kill the “Prime Hunter” or B) kill after the “Prime Hunter” dies from natural loss of life. This mode really creates a frantic, but fun atmosphere.
Capture (Team Capture the Flag)- This is your basic team capture the flag. Just like in most capture the flag games, you have to get the opposing team’s Octolith and bring it back to the Octolith in your territory while it is still on its designated setting area. The first team to do this to the limit that was set wins. Just like in bounty mode, you cannot carry in alt-form.
Nodes- This will also be a familiar game mode to FPS fans; here the objective is to lay claim to a small area (a node) by sitting on the node for a time (10 seconds) to capture it. The more of these & the longer you do it for, the higher the points you accumulate, up to the limit that was set for the game. This mode is also frantic, because not only are you trying to gain control of nodes you don’t have, but you have to defend those that you control. You want to stay still, yet have to run around like a maniac to score points faster. This mode, like capture, tends to lend itself to close range hunters.
Graphics- 10/10- When you consider what the DS has for hardware, this game is nothing short of amazing in this department. The DS is really getting a workout by displaying the graphics of this game. Everything they could render in 3D is, the amount of detail for a 64 bit game is just amazing, and there are few to no glitches that are visible during the game. The game does have a bit of jagginess, but this is due mostly to the system having a lack of any anti-aliasing, which it would be wrong to discount from the score, because it isn’t major. Also, some smaller distant objects can be hard to make out, but this, once again, is from the lack of hardware (the resolution of a DS screen is only 256 x 192) able to show those items. The cut scenes videos really look beautiful on the DS, too. They are still jaw dropping, when you consider that you’re seeing all this on the Nintendo DS. The bottom line that considering what the DS can put out, this game is really pulling out everything it can from the DS hardware. For that, the graphics score is perfect.
Sound- 9/10- This game also does well in the sound department. This game sounds like a Metroid game, using some familiar music, and also new music & sounds that truly fit the atmosphere of the game. There are some things you do get sick of hearing every now & again, like some reappearing enemies, but all-in-all, a job well-done in this department.
Value- 10/10- If you read about the adventure being right along-side the other MP games in length and then went on to read about the multiplayer modes, and then you know this game has plenty for you to do. Even for those of you who need to complete everything, by going back & making sure to get every scan will get you a special note on your Hunter’s license for it. So if you went through once & didn’t get everything, you have a reason to dive back in. And there is just no reason to stop playing the multiplayer. It is nearly impossible to have the same game twice with all the choices in modes, ways you play, and hunters to play as.
Overall- 9.6/10- This game really is a present to Nintendo DS owners direct from Nintendo to the gaming community (even though you have to buy it). The game is fun, contains more than enough for you to do, all in a package that truly makes use out of every little bit of the Nintendo DS. Kudos Nintendo on making an amazing game for the Nintendo DS.