Monday, 18 June 2012

Look Back: Metroid Prime: Echoes (Wii)

Hey, d'you remember when I wrote about Metroid Prime, the first game in the Prime trilogy released for the Gamecube/Wii? Well here's an article about the 2004 follow-up from Retro Studios, Metroid Prime: Echoes

Advantages: Everything that made Prime great.
Disadvantages: Not as good as Prime
The sequel to Metroid Prime, one my personal favourite games ever, is a mixed bag.

Echoes continues the story of Samus Aran, the bounty hunter, in her fight against the space pirates and the mysterious chemical, Phazon. In Echoes, Aran explores a planet hit by a Phazon comet, causing reality on the planet to split in two, one a world of light, the other a world of dark. When Aran arrives, the world of dark, with its sinister Ing, is about to consume the planet, and unleash havoc on the universe.

Echoes continues Prime's brilliant focus on exploration, with its immersive environment, with some improvements. Combat is more varied and more intense, while still being enjoyable. The game is larger, so there is more to explore and unlock, with some challenging puzzles. The idea of two realities is well implemented, each being similar, yet with striking, and sinister differences. The mechanic of changing things in one zone to affect the other is well implemented.

However, there were some significant dips in quality over the two installments. For instance, while the game is larger, the four main game areas don't feel as unique and as individual as they did in the first game, and the layout of each feels disjointed and awkward, unlike the first game. Inthe first game, the world was split into fire, earth, ice and ruins and each was strongly realized. In echoes, the world is split into desert, swamp, techno and... more desert basically. oh wat, there is the dark region for each as well, which is basically the same, but purple...

Its such a shame, because it isn't as visually satisfying a the first game, and due to the nature of the game, you will be going through all these regions multiple times, in order to back track and explore whenever you gain new abilities. This was okay in the first game, when each zone was fascinating to explore, but that level of... life, i suppose, is not here, making exploration sometimes a chore.

In addition, in the first game, scanning (one of my favourite parts of the game) was done by looking for orange tablets attached to walls. These could be hard to see, but looked interesting and fitted into the games aethetic. In echoes, the system is simplified: a scannable object is now covered in a block colour, either green, red or blue, depening on its importance, whethere its an enemy, or if you've already scanned it. Its so simplistic as to be dull. While the colouring and graphics are brilliant, they are spoilt when green paint is poured all over it. I felt this was a step in the wrong direction for the game.

Although I am criticizing the game, I invested over a week playing it solidly, trying to complete the game, to find out the story and absorb the atmosphere and because It is a fantastic game. I loved it. Not as much as Prime, but it is still so much stronger then other games out there, in terms of immersion, visuals and story. If you played Prime, then you've got to play this. But, it sadly isn't as good as Prime. Also, i wouldn't recommend playing them out of order. Prime, Echoes and Corruption are a tight group of games, they are a trilogy, and are more rewarding when experienced as such. It woul be like watching "two towers" before "Fellowship of the ring", you just can't do it.

Summary: Simply a great game. Must play

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