If I think about childhood gaming experiences that made a significant impact on my life, METROID is one of the first games that comes up. A difficult side-scroller, it focused on exploring a massive amount of space while hunting down a powerful alien species know as a Metroid. The series has been a hit in the USA, and it has been 8 years since the last incarnate was released.
The new game falls directly after the first METROID, but before METROID II. Samus heads to the planet Tallon IV, where she finds the space pirates experimenting with Metroids and Phazon radiation. Once again, she'll be stripped of her abilities and forced to explore to find them all again.
You do play from a first-person perspective, but METROID isn't really a shooter. Instead, it relies much more on exploration and adventure. The game is massive, and you'll do a lot of backtracking as you gain abilities and then head to a previously dead-end area that you can now get past.
Because of all this backtracking, enemies do re-spawn, ensuring that it'll never be an easy trip back. Save points scattered throughout the game act as a place to restore your health as well. There are also a few points where you can recharge your missile supply.
METROID features four weapons that can be charged, and even combined with your missiles. Each beam is capable of opening different types of doors found in the game, and some enemies are immune to specific types of weapons.
The weapons are only a few of the upgrades you will find for Samus. There is also the morph ball, which turns Samus into a small ball that can get through tight situations. Other upgrades include the double jump, grapple beam, and photon beam. There are also plenty of energy tanks and missile tanks scattered throughout the game.
What's amazing about METROID PRIME is the way that is basically takes classic METROID and puts it into a three-dimensional world. The old school gamer in me finds so much delight in it. But someone who has never played the game before will love it as well.
For those of you who haven't played a METROID game before, playing METROID FUSION for the Game Boy Advance will catch you up quickly. However, if you finish FUSION, you can link it to your GameCube and unlock the original METROID on your GameCube. This adds life to a game that is already very long.
While PRIME doesn't have multiplayer, it does have plenty of things to find. There are also multiple endings. Add into the fact that you can get the original METROID, and you have more than enough gameplay to warrant a purchase.
In creating METROID PRIME, Retro has made one of the most atmospheric video games ever. The graphics are stunning, especially some of the effects on your visor. From steam fogging it and forming condensation, to water running off of it, there are a lot of cool visual effects. The morph ball transition is seamless and gorgeous.
The music takes a lot of classic METROID music and updates it. The game sounds really nice and fans of the series will feel right at home. The sound effects are also well done and add their own element to the game.
METROID PRIME is the best game to come out this year. It's more than enough reason to own a GameCube.