Game Description: The Galactic Federation's Base Sector Zero is under attack by Space Pirates. As Samus you must boot up the generator to restore the defense systems. But at the end of her path, someone awaits you. If you think you knew what it felt like to be the bounty hunter behind the visor, think again. Take aim at evil with Nintendo's revolutionary controller. You control Samus by moving with the Nunchuk controller and aiming with the pointer, allowing for a level of immersion unlike anything you have ever experienced before. Through the eyes of Samus, you experience a quantum leap in first-person control as you wield the Wii Remote. Samus will employ well-known power-ups like the Grapple Beam and Morph Ball on top of new surprises to help her survive her coming trials.
Being a game critic is sometimes a difficult task. Some games are a joy to play and review, whereas a bad game turns reviewing into a voluntary form of torture, like sitting through a Britney Spears "comeback" performance. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is, fortunately, a game that evokes something of that joy and wonder for me. Corruption is the thoroughly polished conclusion of the Prime trilogy, which was an initially unexpected take on the classic Metroid series. This new game takes the legacy formula along with its modern makeover, and gives the gamer a new world to explore through the eyes of its supremely capable heroine: bounty hunter Samus Aran.
Let me get down to brass (or brinstone) tacks, because frankly, the question likely to be burning in gamers' minds is, "how does the control scheme play on Wii?!" Using a scale of pirates versus ninjas, the fear would be that this game controls like a wooden-legged pirate drunk on grog. Fortunately, the Wii controls infuse the game with new life, bequeathing the experienced player with the grace and deadliness of a skilled ninja.
Note that I said the experienced player. The first two boss battles in particular were frustratingly difficult for me; they required a lot of movement and agility to keep up with the actions of the bosses, and I hadn't come to terms with the swift movement and responses required on my part. On a more generalized note, I tended to morph ball when not wanted because my fingers took time to develop the muscle memory to hit the correct buttons to scan.
It took me a few hours to become proficient with the controls where I felt at one with Samus. After that, everything "clicked" and I proceeded through the rest of the game without control issues. Moving, locking on, turning... all became natural. I controlled my point-of-view by moving the Wiimote, which would have grown tiring except that I was able to rest my hand on my lap. Combined with the nunchuck for Samus' movement, the setup was precise and responsive; and for this game, preferable to a standard controller. Shooting was very accurate, although I initially felt out-of-place without the lock-on aim that I recalled from the last Prime games. For the record, players can lock on and strafe around enemies, but they still need to have accurate aim with the Wiimote to target them successfully.
Samus must constantly visit unforgiving places as de rigueur. Making the player one with the capable Samus to create the sense of immersion in these harsh environments is something this game achieves with moxie. Corruption is big, and ups the ante by offering something new to the console trilogy: exploring multiple worlds. The once-beautiful planet Bryyo is now a war-torn planet of primitives. An empty art deco city floating in the sky above its planet was a particular favorite. The dark side to this expansive galaxy is the actual process of travel. It's nice that Samus has a fab ship with controls that "Wii" can interact with. But enforced sky-watching as Samus left one area or atmosphere and entered another was time-consuming and grew frustrating.
As usual, Samus has her hands full with a variety of life forms intent on survival of the fittest. Breaking tradition with a series mainstay, Samus doesn't lose her inventory at the game's beginning. Rather, she begins with a basic arsenal and acquires upgrades and new gear as the game progresses. The weapons and abilities are used to solve puzzles and let the gamer proceed. The new grapple hook is my favorite, and is gained right away. It is used by physically "throwing" the nunchuck controller to send out an energy beam, in an attempt to latch onto certain surfaces or enemies. Something about the visceral interaction with this really grabbed me, and I enjoyed using the grapple throughout the game. The morph ball now allows a jump to be triggered with a quick flip of the Wiimote—convenient. It's worth noting that for some reason, I had a much easier time with one tried-and-true technique from the series: the morph ball double-jump, mainly used to access some tucked-away powerups.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is an expansion of its predecessors, and it builds on their legacy in every aspect. New weapons, more attack options, greater variety of bosses, more creative use of Samus' abilities to solve puzzles; it reads like a talented game designer's checklist. To say the game is competent would do it a disservice; it is a well-polished gift to both the Wii and to Metroid fans, and it puts the Wii's control scheme to good use beyond the mini-games. I think Corruption would be a solid entry in the series as a "normal" game using standard controllers, but the translation to such tightly-honed motion-control is what makes the game stand out most, and concludes the trilogy on a high note.
According to ESRB, this game contains: Animated Blood, Violence
Parents probably won't have much problem with Corruption. There is plenty of violence, but it is only against odd space creatures, and, while intense, it's never notably gory.
Fans of the Metroid Prime series should definitely play this game. It really culminates the series with its excellently-tuned use of Wii controls, and in ending manages to show that Samus is a real person behind the mask.
Casual Wii gamers may find this too intense for their liking. I think the game is playable to "newbies" to the Metroid series, but to finish the game requires more commitment and skill than nightly rounds of Wii Sports or Cooking Mama. Don't get me wrong, I love Cooking Mama, but it's an entirely different challenge than an atmospheric science-fiction themed exploration game with lots of shooting.
Fans of first-person shooters aren't going to leave Halo 3 or Gears of War for Corruption. However, they might enjoy at least seeing how the Wii controls allow for a smooth first-person-based console experience.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers will do just fine. A lot of the backstory is achieved through reading scanned data; and all spoken dialog is accompanied by subtitles, so nothing verbal will be lost. There are instances where an enemy may be heard before it is seen, giving warning of its arrival, but I don't think this would negatively impact the gameplay. Samus has a radar which shows the locations of enemies, which is more useful for pinpointing their locations.
After an extended trek through the bloated and tedious middle of the Metroid Prime trilogy, the execrable Echoes, I was more than a little hesitant to start another session with the usually-enjoyable Samus Aran. After the last installment, I felt certain that Retro Studios had run out of ideas and lost the touch that originally brought this famously 2D series into the third dimension with such grace. After biting the bullet and giving it a try, I found that the end result was better than I had expected... though a bit too familiar.
In my view, Corruption is best described as an expanded version of Metroid Prime: Hunters, found on Nintendo's handheld DS system. Since I found that particular game's restructuring of the classic formula to be quite enjoyable, I mean this as a true compliment. Specifically, I admired the way Hunters introduced the ability to hop back and forth between planets, as well as the rogues' gallery of rival bounty hunters competing with Samus in that adventure. Such elements greatly enhanced the sci-fi themes that this series thrives on, and gave it a more logical, well-rounded quality. Corruption mirrors these enhancements and I'm glad to see that they've been implemented on a more powerful console that can do them justice.
The storyline, usually the Metroid series' Achilles heel, has also benefited from these changes. By including a cast of characters to both support the streamlined events and to explain how Samus receives some of her special ability upgrades, Corruption feels like a more convincing adventure. As a long-time Metroid vet who's been asking for most of these changes for years, I couldn't be happier. However, there are still several areas of design that adhere too closely to outdated concepts.
For example, the second half of the game lapses into the same tired "classic" backtracking and item-hunting that adds little except playtime, and most of the late-game abilities seem pointless except to progress past arbitrary barriers. These contrivances may be faithful to Metroid's original concept, but they're stale and unnecessary. I'd say it's high time the series gets a more thorough revamp in this regard.
There are some technical nitpicks to be brought up, too. Killers for me were the too-frequent pauses in the action while the console loaded areas behind closed doors. It wasn't game-breaking, but it was annoying to have my immersion constantly disrupted.
Additionally, the current system of infrequent save points in special rooms or at Samus' spacecraft needs to go. There were several times when I needed to stop playing in a hurry, yet I was usually several rooms (if not further) away from the ability to record my progress. In today's environment, it should be a simple thing to enable a quicksave (if not a full save-anywhere) for convenience's sake.
Finally, on the subject of controls, I was left with the impression that Retro has created the best possible first-person configuration on a piece of hardware that is simply not optimal—there's no getting around the fact that the Wiimote is tailor-made for stripped-down, basic player interaction. Trying to reach the crosskey's "down" direction or the plus and minus buttons in the middle of play was never comfortable, and it was extremely tiring to have the camera tied to the direction the Wiimote was pointed in. Not only did keeping the unit straight and still require more than the usual amount of physical effort, I got tired of having my view spin wildly every time I scratched my nose or adjusted my position on the couch. Like most of the Wii's other games, using a normal analog controller would have been preferable.
In the main review, Jason comes to the conclusion that Corruption is a well-polished expansion to the Metroid legacy. I agree, though I'd be hard-pressed to find any elements in the game that are new or original. Considering that the series has a storied history and celebrated status as one of Nintendo's core franchises, this isn't automatically a bad thing. Quite frankly, the developers had lost ground after their initial effort, so Corruption's return to form goes a long way towards making up for the errors last time around. That said, I won't be interested in the next installment unless a bigger shakeup to the formula takes place.
This morning I awoke to my Wii's disc tray pulsing with that seductive blue glow that implies internet activity is going on. I was curious as to what might be updating. Most recently that glow brought news of a Wii system update. (Incidentally, the new Wii store shopping experience is an improvement for Virtual Console perusal.)
I was assuming some kind of updates in the store, but I noticed a new message which turned out to be from Nintendo, letting me know that there were new Metroid Prime 3: Corruption previews available. Yay! Seeing as how that is the first Wii release that I'm excited about (and the reason I recently obtained my Wii), I immediately hit the store and downloaded.
I was hoping for a playable demo, frankly, but what showed up were two movies previewing the basic gameplay, with placeholders promising two more movies on the 13th. There was also a picture of Samus that could be revealed by "scrubbing" with the Wiimote. Nintendo has made August "Metroid Month" so I wonder if there will be goodies beyond these four movies? After checking the internet, I now see that Super Metroid is expected this month on the VC; and I know it was just released for the UK. That's a good lead-in, although I personally question releasing that one week before the full-blown Corruption. Two weeks (or a month) would have given more playtime; I might even have bought it, but not knowing that I'll be playing the full-blown Wii entry after a week!
The footage wasn't overly impressive to me, mainly because the compression gave it a grainy quality. However, it did put me in mind of the crisp video goodness of the first two Metroid Prime games, and that was exciting. There were lots of space pirates, and Samus used a new weapon to break the shield barrier that some of them were sporting. (Those darn pirates, what will they think of next.) I've avoided most information about Corruption, but after viewing this demo, I believe the new weapon will be utilized by the hand holding the analog stick, probably with a swipe gesture. I was immediately imagining what it would be like to play by looking around and/or aiming with the Wiimote, while gesturing with the stick in my other hand.
In that sense the demo was successful, because I was envisioning the new gameplay, and if I wasn't already expecting to get Corruption at release, this would be a good reminder. I hope we get more of these online-distributed previews in the future, it's a convenient way to see what's coming down the virtual pike.