I had years ago got the Metroid Prime Trilogy for the Wii as a gift. This was when the trilogy collection was relatively new. I had started to play Metroid Prime 1, but lost interest part way through. I hadn’t touched the game in years, and I decided to review the only Metroid Prime game I hadn’t played yet: Metroid Prime 3. I hadn’t even watched any playthroughs of the game prior to playing it, so I can see it with fresh eyes. With Metroid Prime 4 on the horizon, I figured I would catch up on the story before I eventually play that game. So let’s begin.
The first thing I notice about this game is the use of motion controls. In the opening sequence, you have to move the Wii remote like a mouse to make the main character, bounty hunter Samus Aran, press four specific buttons. It isn’t long after that you see that the Wii remote is essential to aiming, rotating the camera, and interacting with objects. There are objects you have to push, pull, twist, or imitate lifting a lever to activate. This game came out in the early days of the Wii, so I guess they were trying to show the potential of the technology.
As a first person shooter, having to aim with the Wii remote’s motion controls could have been a lot worse. There is, thankfully, a setting that allows you to lock on to enemies so you don’t have to free target, most of the time. There are, however, times that you have to adjust your aim to hit certain weak points. An early game boss fight with Meta-Ridley requires you to do just this, and unfortunately, there is a time limit due to Samus falling through a shaft. It is a cool scene, but felt like a lot of pressure for an early game boss fight.
Another thing I noticed about this game was its use of NPC’s that Samus can interact with. There is a fair amount of voice acting too, and a lot of the cut-scenes that expand the Metroid universe. There are other people, for a change, as well as other bounty hunters. The fate of these bounty hunters show how things could turn out for Samus on her mission. Early on, Samus and the other hunters are attacked by Dark Samus, and they all get corrupted with the game’s made up radioactive substance, phazon.
This is where the game introduces a feature exclusive to this game: you can sacrifice some health to enter hypermode, where you are briefly invincible, and do way more damage. You can’t stay in it for too long, and if the game says you are corrupted, you must shoot off a bunch of attacks to exit the mode or get a game over. This will happen if you stay the mode for too long, and you lose more health than if you use the mode briefly. The unfortunate thing is, some enemies can only be defeated by using hypermode, and not all of them are boss fights. It feels weird having to lose health in an action game, (especially to attack), and I’m not sure this was the best innovation for the sake of this game.
On the other hand, this game features multiple planets to explore. Overall, each one is relatively small, and collectively, their size might add up to the total size of one of the two previous Metroid Prime games’ worlds. This does allow for multiple landing points, and Samus’s gunship is essentially a mobile save point, making travel much more convenient. Considering that the Metroid series takes place on alien planets, I’m surprised it took them this long to have a feature like this. I would like to see a more expanded variation of this feature in future Metroid games.
The variety of collectible power-ups are back, from health expansions, to extra missiles, encourages you to explore the game as much as you like. However, there is another collectible you have to find a certain amount of in order to finish the game, and the flow of progression slows down when you get to this point if you don’t have enough of these (what they are and where you need to use them are omitted to avoid a spoiler here). This is particularly bad if you don’t know where these items are. One is really well hidden too, and could baffle those without a game guide of some sort.
Even though the game features multiple planets, the universe of Metroid Prime 3 feels unusually empty. There are plenty of rooms with no action at all, or with just 1-3 enemies. This would be fine if there was a puzzle in these empty rooms, but some rooms are just a way to get from point A to point B. There is one case where this works well for the game: right before you fight the first Metroids ends up being a suitably creepy moment when you are unsure of when you will be attacked.
And that is where this game shines above other Metroid games, there is ample use of theatrics, cut-scenes, storytelling, and yes, even the motion controls make this world feel more real than it would otherwise. Not everything is perfect in Metroid Prime 3, but it still hits enough of the right marks to still be worth your time if you liked the other Metroid Prime games.
Here are a few play recommendations:
- Adjust to the motion controls as best as you can, you will use them often.
- Use the scan visor on as much as possible, especially if you want to get everything. The information gathered also leads to some useful tips.
- Keep an eye out for collectibles, especially energy tanks, due to how hypermode works.
- Be cautious with hypermode use. Save it for tough fights, enemies that can only be beat with it, or when the game forces you into it. Speed runners might be able to abuse it, though.
- Use the map to try to find your way around.
- Gather tokens to get concept art for the game, if you like.
- There is a hypermode difficulty, if you need a challenge.
- There are extended endings based on the number of collectibles you gather. The thresholds are 75% and 100%. If you get 100%, on the first try, you only need to play the game once to see the whole ending.
Time for the Pro’s and Con’s:
- The setting, world, and characters are more fleshed out.
- The 3D world is just as stunning as any other Metroid Prime game.
- There is a way to locate collectibles.
- Using the gunship like an actual spaceship was a big plus.
- The game world feels empty.
- The motion controls are adequate, but mostly gimmicky.
- I personally got a little lost at times in this game.
- The requirement to gather certain pickups late game slowed the pacing of the game unnecessarily.
- The early Meta-Ridley fight had features of a late game battle, in terms of difficulty. (Note, it wasn’t impossible, but the time limit was not needed.)
So, what is the verdict?
7.9/10 Almost Great
Metroid Prime 3 is still worth your time, though I felt it was the weakest of the three Metroid Prime games. The game does offer closure for this chunk of the Metroid series, so play it if you played the other two games.
That was what I thought of Metroid Prime 3. But how about you? Did you like this game? How did you feel about hypermode? Which Metroid Prime game was your favorite, and why? Let me know in the comments below!