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At the start of Metroid Prime, intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran hears a distress call from a frigate near the planet Tallon IV and has gone to investigate. After the self destruct sequence activates (of course there's a self destruct sequence, that's Metroid tradition) and in your escape you see Ridley, The leader of the Space Pirates flying down to the planet and pursue him in your ship. There isn't really much of a story, but the Metroid games are all about gameplay, aside from Fusion and to a lesser extent Prime 3 as they had more of a focus on story than usual. There is some back story for inquisitive players to uncover with the Scan Visor, and I'll explain what that is later.There are two visors you need to find in addition to your basic Combat Visor and Scan Visor. The X-Ray Visor, which reveals invisible platforms and see through certain walls, as well as finding certain invisible enemies. The Thermal Visor lets you see in the dark, see different invisible enemies, find a couple bosses weak points, etc. The Combat Visor is your standard visor displaying your HUD (heads up display), with its main advantage being the radar and everything not looking weird. Last but not least, the Scan Visor. Used to scan enemies, lore, Space Pirate data, plants, bosses, and just short of everything. It will give you information on anything you scan and add it to your Log Book, allowing it to be read at any time. It's incredibly useful and what you use to find that earlier mentioned story.
Along the walls of the crumbling Chozo Ruins, you can scan many entries of "Chozo Lore" telling of the Chozo who lived on the planet fighting The Great Poison - Phazon, prior to your arrival. A mutagen that has infected much of the planet and kills or transforms anything it touches, if the latter you can bet the result will try to kill you. It arrived via a meteor several years before you reached the planet. Scanning anything adds a log about it to your log book, so if you pay attention by the end of your game you'll practically have a short novel. It's great for people who don't care about story because while there is a story, it isn't shoved in your face with a procession of cut scenes, which likely gave the idea to other games to do something similar, like The Conduit.
Your goal is to find twelve artifacts spread throughout the planet to gain access to the crater and kill Metroid Prime, the creature creating the Phazon. There is a large number of upgrades to your suit to be found in the world of Metroid Prime, like the Space Jump Boots, which allow you to double jump. There are multiple beam weapons as well, each able to open certain kinds of doors that can't be passed otherwise. To supplement your standard Charge Beam, you have the Ice Beam that has slow moving shots with a slow rate of fire that can freeze enemies, the Wave Beam has a high rate of fire and can stun certain enemies, the Plasma Beam is powerful with a moderate rate of fire and can set fire to your foes, resulting in taking additional damage over a short period of time. They all are more effective against certain enemies as well, and the Ice Beam can be used in combination with missiles to great effect against many enemies, not least among them Metroids.Metroid Prime is sort of a first person shooter, although it emphasizes exploration over shooting. It's actually a First Person Adventure, but we'll save time by calling it an FPS. Combat is more slow paced and methodical than a traditional FPS, and mindlessly shooting the next enemy will often get you nowhere. Strafing and dodging are of the utmost importance to survive one of the games many boss battles, while you don't even aim since you have lock on for that, although timing the shots is often important so you don't miss their weak point as they're moving around.
Like I said, the game is really about exploring the vast, uncharted world that surrounds you. but you can't just go off anywhere. You'll often be confronted with an unreachable ledge, an unattainable power up, an unsolvable puzzle and so on. As you continue on through the game finding more weapons and items for your suit, more of the world can be reached. When you get the Space Jump Boots, the unreachable ledge can often be reached. The previously unattainable power ups are often the reward for the previously unsolvable puzzles, and the difficulty and nature of the puzzles varies. Most aren't too challenging but there was one Morph Ball puzzle where you had to plant bombs with perfect timing to jump onto a ledge above you three times in a row in order to reach an Energy Tank, made worse by failing resulting in you falling in lava and quickly taking damage if you failed on the first jump. Of course, it was entirely optional so I must just be crazy.It's graphics actually hold up fairly well, both because of what was at the time technological wizardry and great art direction. The worlds are all quite varied with the lava filled Magmoor Caverns, the crumbling Chozo Ruins, the snow and laboratories of the Phendrana Drifts, the jungles of the Tallon Overworld, the Phazon Mines inhabited by the Space Pirates, and the only good water level ever made, the crashed frigate, which is technically a part of Tallon Overworld but oh well. There is also a great amount of detail, with little chips on the wall or plant growth giving everything a more organic feel, and on top of all that it runs at 60 FPS with almost no drops on Hard mode. Aside from the Wave Beam all your weaponry sounds good, and the excellent soundtrack helps the feeling of isolation. Not to say it doesn't show it's age, looking closely will reveal quite a few jagged edges and some of the mountains have such sharp edges it's funny. On a scale of grey brown military shooter to Legend of Zelda Wind Waker, it falls just short of Okami on the PS2 (yes, that scale makes sense).
It controls well, switching between certain visors or beams with a flick of the C-stick (right analog) or tap of the D-Pad. You turn with left and right and walk with forward and backwards, but pressing L let's you strafe (walk sideways) and lock on to enemies, and the lock on works effectively against most enemies. Against a few of the bosses and flying enemies it leaves a little to be desired, particularly using your slow firing Ice Beam to hit the final bosses small weak point from a long distance.The variety of creatures on Tallon IV is nothing short of amazing. There are over 60 different types of flora and fauna, with no palette swaps, not counting bosses. While there are a few with the same AI and design, like the 5 different types of Space Pirate Troopers (normal, Wave, Charge, Plasma, Ice), they at least are vulnerable to different kinds of weaponry. Even then, it's still impressive. There are quite a few bosses and sub bosses, most of which tower over you like a skyscraper, making it even more satisfying to bring them down. On top of that, they are completely unique in how you kill them. How difficult they are is up to you, if you take your time and search for every Energy Tank and every missile expansion you should be able to get through with relative ease, and even if you don't it shouldn't be very hard unless you completely ignore everything.
My play through lasted 12 hours, but it's important to remember I know where all the Artifacts are and picked up several of them before beating the third to last boss (Don't you just love non linearity?), it's common to hear people say 20+ hours on a first playthrough. On top of that, the timer doesn't record time looking at the map, reading your log, and more. Speaking of maps, the 3D maps can get slightly confusing, primarily on Phazon Mines where moving it makes it hard to tell if you're moving up or down because of the lack of depth perception. It gives you an incredible number of things to scan and upgrades to collect, the most missile expansions I've ever found, while searching everywhere, is 26, giving me 150 missiles. There's 49, allowing you to get 250. I did, however, manage to find all 14 Energy Tanks, and finding every one gave me a sense of... success, accomplishment? Neither are really appropriate but they convey it well enough. There are also a few Power Bomb Expansions, which are only really useful on the final boss, one made the difference between my winning and almost certain failure. Regardless, searching for all these is fun and incentive enough in itself to replay the game, but you're also rewarded with art galleries upon getting multiples of 25% of the Log Book finished, and the Hard mode.
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