In past games the Gunship was basically a save station that replenished ammo too. Corruption practically makes it into a character, an extension of Samus if you will. Each planet has at least three landing pads (some must be located and activated), which allow Samus to call in her ship as a mobile save point, take her to a location halfway across the planet, or even the galaxy. This eliminates the need for numerous save stations that cluttered the worlds in previous games. Like Samus’s armorsuit, the ship can be upgraded with new features and abilities. Once tricked out, it can lift huge objects with a grapple crane and act as a platform to new areas. Samus can even order missile strikes against enemies, minibosses or heavy obstructions that block her path. The gunship has always been underused in the Metroid series, but Prime 3 makes it a reliable friend and an integral gameplay element.
Where the ship handles the backtracking issues, the item system fixes the redundancy that has started to plague Metroid. Most previous games started with Samus losing all her powers and weapons. Corruption gives Samus all of her latent abilities and lets her keep them too—you’ll never have to hunt down the morph ball, bombs, double jump or Varia Suit, and missiles are acquired almost from the word-go. The Screw Attack also shows up sooner and gets a lot more use. Samus collects her most versatile powerups early in the game, and the best example of this is the grapple beam. Activated by casting the nunchuck, the grapple lasso can be used in a variety of innovative situations, from tearing away shields and debris to charging dead power conduits, and it is upgraded like most of Samus’s other gear.
Many of the other tools and weapons get equal attention, and are worked into the motion controls in creative ways. The Plasma Beam is necessary to melt slag (a very cool effect), but is also used in a welding minigame. I cannot describe the fanboy glee I felt when I actually had to re-weld a circuit panel with the beam’s blow torch. Homing in on a Pirate’s vital organs with the X-ray visor, and then frying them was a similarly satisfying experience. The morph ball gets its spring ability back, and while a little unresponsive, jerking the Wii remote to pop the ball into the air was a cool addition and helped in a few of the puzzles.
To fit with the Wii’s limited button layout, some of the items have been reworked. The beams can’t be selected independently, but stack like in Super Metroid. This also requires the return of Ice Missles from Metroid Fusion (Plasma and Ice beams at the same time don’t make much sense). There aren’t any Power Bombs in Prime 3, but since they were basically arbitrary puzzle-solvers in the last two games, their exclusion isn’t a terrible loss. The Super Missile and other Beam combos are also gone, but Hypermode more than makes up for them.
For completionists, the process of tracking down all of those suit expansions has been drastically improved. In Skytown’s observatory, Samus can launch satellites which scan each planet in the game. Not only does this reveal every area on every map, but also the locations of those pesky missile expansions and energy tanks.
A number of critics have complained about the required energy cell hunt at the end of the game—much like the artifacts in Prime 1, or the keys in Echoes. Personally, I didn’t have much trouble with it. Unlike the Luminoth keys, which took some serious lore sleuthing to locate, I found all but a couple of the power cells just by poking around the worlds on my first run through. I take a kind of perverse joy in rooting out every last secret in a game, so maybe it’s just me, but I have a feeling that seasoned Metroid players won’t have much trouble with the cells (we adventure game junkies develop a kind of bizarre “instinct” for finding items). Action FPS gamers who blast through each area as quickly as possible might get a bit frustrated, so my advice is to slow down and take in the scenery. In any case, Corruption’s item hunt was the most logical and intuitive in the Prime series.
As a final bonus, Retro also trimmed up the extras package. Collecting all of the hidden goodies will net you the special endings as usual, but scanning every last thing isn’t necessary anymore. Instead, scanning items, enemies and lore gives you points in an “achievement” system of sorts. Defeating difficult enemies, killing bosses or taking out numerous baddies in a skillful way also gives you points, which you can spend on bonus material. Concept art is unlockable as before, with some new additions like sound test packages and even cool little stylistic upgrades for your ship. Most of these extras can be purchased with the points you get from the solo adventure, but a few require special “friend vouchers,” which must be exchanged through WiiConnect24 with your address list buddies. Chuck and I have already sent a couple vouchers back and forth. If you didn’t snag all of the achievements the first time through, no sweat—the game encourages replay with three difficulty modes. Normal mode should be welcoming to newcomers, Veteran mode has all the difficulty of Echoes without the tedium, and Hypermode difficulty should prove a worthy challenge to any Metroid player worth their golden power armor.
These extra features and the small online support are the finishing touches on an immersive, extensive and thoroughly fun game. I’m not saying it’s perfect—few games can come close to the hallowed score of 10. A few have criticized Corruption because its sense of novelty has worn off, but I have to disagree. By the third chapter in the trilogy the newness has faded, but that can be said of any long running game series. The difference is that Retro has still kept the experience involving, tied up the story nicely and managed to surprise me a couple times. Prime 3 has its small quibbles—it still has some backtracking, and there were a couple times where the game did drag a bit. After three games, Retro still hasn’t smoothed out the loading problem—you’ll still spend several seconds in front of a sealed door as the next room loads frantically.
I noticed a couple issues with the game’s content that might upset longtime fans. For starters, there’s really only one kind of Metroid in the game, and it isn’t used enough. The boss fights were more creative than daunting—I liked Echoes ridiculous, multi-part, health grinding battles, and Corruption’s end boss has more nostalgia than brutal difficulty. My personal beef is that Kraid wasn’t included. The classic Metroid boss was slated for Prime 1 but was cut because of time constraints, so I fully expected him to show up in Corruption. Even then, Retro makes up for it by giving us the best Ridley battle in any Metroid game, as far as I’m concerned.
So what do we have after three long years of waiting? The best game in the Metroid Prime trilogy, a gameplay design that has been polished to a blinding sheen, and an instant classic that rivals Zelda Twilight Princess in execution and depth. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption overcomes its small flaws with an adventure that will keep any gamer captivated from start to finish.
As a Metroid fanatic I’ve tried to stay objective with this review, but there’s no avoiding the fact that Corruption is an incredible game. The controls, the visuals, and the gameplay are so refined and polished, that Prime 3 can only find peer among the work of Valve or Irrational. Retro has proven FPS on Wii. Now go buy this game.
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