Five years ago, the first-person adventure Metroid Prime re-invented Nintendo's famous science-fiction franchise about a space-traveling female bounty hunter. Now, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has re-invented the way the series is played, unarguably for the better. If you were on board Samus Aran's Hunter-Class Gunship for the critically acclaimed first outing and its sequel, you will be ready for the third and final act in the trilogy because, at least from a design standpoint, there haven't been too many major changes. The heroine still explores exotic alien terrain and fights fearsome alien creatures, and the re-traversal backbone that has powered Metroid projects since the NES classic that started it all remains completely and thankfully intact. So if you've never liked these titles, Corruption probably isn't going to make you a believer, even with its enhanced graphics and spectacular new controls. If, on the other hand, you'd rather play with Samus than, say, Master Chief, Retro's Wii-overhauled new addition to the Prime family is going to take you on a great, satisfying ride that you won't soon forget. Indeed, as far as we're concerned, the Texas-based studio has made Wii's best game.
If you've never played a Metroid Prime game before, we'll give you the footnotes now. You jump into the armored shoes of Samus Aran, a stoic-cool blonde heroine who lets her beams do the talking. As the most trusted bounty hunter in the business, she's regularly contracted by the galactic Federation to do battle with Space Pirates, an evil race of menacing aliens obsessed with life-draining blobs called Metroids and a toxic substance called Phazon. Metroid games always start Samus off devoid of any major abilities and challenge you to upgrade her as you explore atmospheric locales. You'll see places that you cannot enter or reach along the way and you'll know that, just as soon as you get the right weapon or item, you'll eventually have to come back to those areas. This happens to be a very intentional design choice and also one that you either love or hate. Let's be honest, though: if you'd rather just shoot stuff, the Metroid franchise has never been for you and the Prime games are no different. Still, some players have over the years made a valid point that Samus always starts at zero and that it's grown tiresome. They've also noted that the re-traversal nature of the offerings can be tedious because the worlds are so large. Corruption addresses both complaints and it's a better game for it. We'll get to that, but permit us to start at the beginning.
Prime 3 kicks off with cinematic flair as Samus awakens from a cryogenic sleep and lands on the S.S. Olympus. Aran doesn't have anything to say, but the troops and hunters on the ship do and their lines are delivered by way of well-acted voice work, a welcome surprise given Nintendo's resistance to such audio in the majority of its titles. The voices continue throughout the game, adding ambience and an extra layer of realism to situations. A giant-sized organic super-computer known as the Aurora Unit guides Aran through the majority of the adventure with helpful instruction, all of it delivered quite brilliantly via voice. Combined with a bevy of atmospheric and well-choreographed cut-scenes, the storyline in Prime 3 takes shape and flows much more smoothly and believably than it has in previous titles. At one moment, you're gliding across a caged platform in a cinematic designed to mask a level load time and in another, you're fighting alongside Federation Troopers in a scene that seems inspired by something out of Halo. We've made an effort to keep our written review relatively spoiler free so we're going to refrain from posting more detailed specifics, but Aran's quest will take her across the galaxy to several planets and ships, she will meet up with some recognizable hunters, do battle with Dark Samus and strive to keep from becoming corrupted herself. (To learn and see much more, be sure to watch our spoiler-filled video review.) The yarn that Retro has spun is not exceptionally original, nor is it altogether deep, but it does drive the action and it also gives fans a little more than they're received before.
Each of the wingmen has a distinct personality which reflects gameplay-wise into his own special ability - the calm, composed Tom is the shield, the choleric and flamboyant Frank is the hunter and Joe, the rookie pilot, is the mechanic genius, able to find new ways to fix the player's plane even during the action - no need to flee and land to get your bird fixed.
Also available on the Sega Saturn and PC, Crusader: No Remorse is an isometric shooter that few people have ever played. It may have blatantly stolen its main character design from a certain Star Wars bounty hunter, but the gameplay is great. 2b1af7f3a8