Splatoon's Bargain Bin Review-o-Rama Issue #3: Master Baiter
In this issue of Splatoon's Bargain Bin Review-o-Rama, I take a mildly critical look at the beloved Metroid Prime. In the next issue, I ask the Nintendoids who read this review to stop throwing rocks at my house.
The story of bounty hunter Samus Aran, Metroid Prime seems like a game that would be right up my alley; you've got a hottie protagonist, plenty of aliens to blast, and a sweet armored suit to do it in. Also, the game is all about the single-player, something I can appreciate as a friendless shut-in. Ultimately though, the game just never clicked with me. I don't hate it, it's just that its developers made a lot of design choices that I feel neuter what could have otherwise been an great experience. Of course I'd have to be an idiot to ignore the game's virtues, of which there are many. Gorgeous scenery, an vibrant aesthetic and most importantly, super-tight controls; mechanically, this is one of the best shooters I've ever played on a console, and considering the game mixes in a ton of platform elements (the bane of any FPS), that's saying something. I should probably admit that for a long time, the idea of a shooter on the consoles was to me akin to playing a shooter on the PC, if you'd had both hands amputated and were forced to maneuver by rolling your face on the keyboard. In short, I was skeptical, and no amount of fanboy clamoring was going to convince me otherwise. Well I'm man enough to admit when I'm wrong, as Metroid Prime convinced me that with the proper amount of compromise, it was definitely possible to make an entertaining shooter experience on a console.
What ruins Metroid for me isn't a single huge control flaw or glaring bug. It's a myriad of minor annoyances that taken as a whole equal a whole lot of frustration. For starters, there is a freakin' ton of back-tracking in this game, and considering how expansive the world is, it gets old fast. Combine that with a check-point system and re-spawning enemies, and you've got the makings of a grade A slog. What kills me is just how blatant the time-wasting in this game really is. Just picked up the soothing massage beam? Prepare to walk all the way back across the level to a newly opened area, which will allow you to pick up the bouncy ball ability, so you can trek all the way back the other way for the melted cheese beam, etc., etc. ad infinitum. Who the hell builds locks that are opened with laser beams anyway? There isn't any real motivation for all this traveling other than the acquisition of the next doodad, and I just felt like the game was screwing with me most of the time. A lot of people have given modern shooters like Half-Life flack for their extremely linear nature, but at least with those games you're always progressing to new locations and fresh experiences. Metroid Prime gives you new areas to explore and stuff to do, but the work required to get there is totally out of proportion to the amount of content you're getting. Imagine playing Super Mario Bros., but in order to get to 1-2 you need to beat 1-1 three times. Then to get to 1-3, you have to beat 1-2 and 1-1 three times. See where I'm going with this?
The game also suffers from a severe lack of dialog. Metroid Prime follows the classic FPS tradition of making your character a mute, and your opponents consist mainly of bugs and plants, with the occasional space pirate thrown in. Rather than actual enemies, your opponents feel more like obstacles designed to further slow your progress. Perhaps Retro Studios wanted to give you a feeling of loneliness and isolation as you explored this alien land-scape. Or maybe they blew all there cash on hookers and sports cars and couldn't afford voice actors. Whatever the case, I never felt any real sense of drive or urgency to my adventures. Most of the time I wished the game would let me pack up my ship, leave this crap-hole of a planet and go do something entertaining, like, I don't know, bounty hunting for example. I don't need some NPC shoving me along for the entire game, but there's just not a lot here to keep you interested, and even after reading all the various texts scattered around the world (and sweet Petunia is there a lot of text), I never felt like I had a real investment in the game. I know it's a little unfair comparing it to a later title, but you can look at Shadow of the Colossus as a template for how to propel a character forward with just a smidgen of motivation. Maybe my lack of Metroid knowledge meant I was missing key plot elements, but as far as I'm concerned, if you drop the number off the game, you should consider it a fresh start and make it inviting to new players.
I'd hate for you backwoods console yokels to think I'm some kind of PC elitist, but it seems like a lot of the hoopla surrounding this game (and it's manly X-Box cousin, Halo), stemmed from the fact that it was an FPS that actually played well with a gamepad, still something of a novel achievement at the time. Add in a healthy dose of nostalgia, and an incredibly polished veneer, and it's easy to see how those perfect scores piled up. Ultimately though, while I applaud Metroid Prime's quality and innovation, as a game it left me cold.
Final Verdict: Considering the game's rabid fanbase (including my room-mate, who keeps trying to sneak up and bludgeon me with his GameCube while I type this), it's clear this game does have appeal to the right group. Definitely a try before you buy though.
Original Price: $7.00 Used at Gamestop
Recommended Price: $3.00 (I'm glad I bought it, but wish I'd used a coupon)
Well folks, there it is, Issue #3. As always, feedback is welcome, and please let me know if you've got games you'd like to see reviewed in future issues. No title will be refused, and if I can find it, I'll review it! As a final note, I'd like to give a very special thanks to my assistant and fellow gamer Splateen for the blog's bad-ass header. Is that classy or what?
|Comments (Total Comments: 6)|
|Nathan_Sama - 07-07-2008, 09:23 PM|
|Splatoon - 07-07-2008, 09:30 PM|
|Nathan_Sama - 07-07-2008, 09:44 PM|
|Splatoon - 07-07-2008, 11:26 PM|
|Riyonuk - 07-08-2008, 01:32 PM|
|Splatoon - 07-08-2008, 02:57 PM|
|Recent Blog Entries by Splatoon|