Metroid Prime 3: First Impression

Well, the fall season has kicked into full gear. For the next three months, there will be at least one or two AAA titles hitting the market each week. With that hectic release schedule in mind, I’m going to provide my initial thoughts on at least one new(er) release each week. This week: Metroid Prime 3.

A few weeks ago, I blasted the Metroid’s preview trailers and screenshots because of their poor quality and what appeared to be a complete lack of imagination for what should be a revolutionary title. After multiple e-mails asking how I could ever besmirch the good name of Metroid, I decided that I should give the game a fair chance.

First and foremost, Retro Studios should be applauded for the control scheme. But for nothing else, this game will remembered for demonstrating that the Wii is a perfect system for a FPS/A. I’ll admit that while I spent the first twenty minutes adjusting to the controls (even reaching for the Dramamine at a few points), after the brief learning curve, the game feels completely natural. The only downside to the control scheme is that it causes the Wii controller to drain batteries faster than Rue McClanahan’s vibrator. I’m already on my third set on AAs.

Beyond the control scheme, however, the game does not leave much of a memorable impact. The first hour feels like Nintendo decided to make Metroid-Halo 2. The game has much more of a FPS feel than the prior Prime games, which is fine, as backtracking gets tiring after awhile. However, the game, especially its story, lacks any traction.

Could anyone really care less about the inhabitants these planets? The Prime games has been one galactic exercise in lame storytelling, but this most recent edition wins the stuffed Ninja Turtle.

Looking even beyond the story, the game has the same types of puzzles, with its first person jumping and highly gimmickie boss battles. And while all are done as well as, and at times better than, its predecessors, I doubt I’ll remember any of it two months from now.

Graphically, the game is a slight, yes, slight step up from the Gamecube versions. The websites can do all the graphics comparisons they want, this edition moves the ball forward, but in that Michigan-run-straight-into-the-line-for-three-yards kind of way. As for the sounds and music, blah. I haven’t noticed anything that is remotely impressive.

While some may argue it’s not in the “spirit” of Metroid (which I find laughable because Hunters was sold on this aspect), the game would have been a even greater financial success with online multiplayer. Screw that, this game would have sold like crack if it had an online multiplayer. If the game is going to lack a deep storyline, colorful graphics or moving sound, and just rely on its stellar game play, then maximize that sole aspect. Fuck the achievements, let me go online and shoot some 14 year in the face with my plasma beam (…and I just made a Chris Hansen segment on Dateline).

The bottom line is that it’s a better game that the previous editions, but not by all that much. Other than the controls, it’s very much the same Metroid Prime and while that results in a very good game, it’s not all that revolutionary.

So I beg of everyone out there, stop comparing the game to Bioshock. Just stop.

A Perfect Career Shift

Dave Karraker, Sr. Director of Corporate Communications for Sony Computer Entertainment America, announced earlier this week that he’d be leaving the company.

You have to feel sorry for Dave, his tenure was plagued by Sony PR’s ascent to the summit of Mount Fuckup. Between having to defend racist ads, banning reporters, Phil Harrison’s British ramblings and asking the Wizard of Oz to give Jack Trenton a personality, the man deserves a cocktail.

Oh, you ask where he’s going? Skyy Vodka, of course.

Iwata will break your back, make you humble

In a recently released interview with Newsweek’s N’Gai Croal, Nintendo President, Satoru Iwata showed signs that Nintendo is learning from its own past (and Sony’s more recent) mistakes, stating:

"… if you’re introducing these new things and everyone’s saying, ‘Oh yeah, this is great,’ ‘We’ll take that,’ ‘That’s a great idea,’ it’s very difficult to maintain within the company the energy it takes to be always looking forward. That’s probably Nintendo’s next obstacle is to not lose its internal energy and internal momentum. I believe my most important role right now is to prevent Nintendo from being in a company where people say, ‘Oh, Nintendo is arrogant,’ ‘Nintendo has let its guard down,’ or ‘Nintendo has lost its challenging spirit.’ We want to avoid all of the pitfalls that can come from losing one’s momentum."

Good start. Nintendo for years, despite losing ground to Sega, Sony and Microsoft, buried its head in the sand. After tasting the bitter awfulness of third place, hopefully the big N will not return to its prior follies like Mario Kart: Double Dash. Now if they’d only realize they are allowed to release more than one AAA title between January and August. Or allow a few third-party developers to sit at the adults table.

Free Lip Service

Game Informer’s September issue, featuring its E3 coverage (very timely), found its way into my bathroom this week. Included in the coverage was an E3 interview with Microsoft Game Studios Corporate Vice President, Shame Kim. When asked about AO-rated Manhunt 2, Kim said

Microsoft has a policy that is very clear that we do not accept AO-rated games on our platform, full stop. As a platform owner, we absolutely respect the right and defend the right for publishers and developers to create the content that the want. But we hold the line at AO-titles.

Very politically correct and very pussy correct. Instead of giving a bullshit answer of “we respect free speech, but we don’t allow Adult content” just say, “hey, if we didn’t think we’d catch shit, we’d be plastering that fucker all over the place. We’re a big giant megalithic corporation for Christ’s sake.”

And don’t come at me with, “well what do you expect him to say?” I expect honesty and bringing free speech into something that has nothing to do with free speech is infuriating.

Dream On

Earlier this week Billboard did a story about the new album from ageful rockers, Aerosmtih. Toward the end of the piece, the Amazing-Crazy-Cryin’ artists mention that they were working on Guitar Hero IV, adding that the game was going to, in fact, feature the band.

Really? Aerosmith? Yeah, Activision is going to feature a band that hasn’t had any rock “credibility” in decades. I guess if Guitar III is subtitled Legends of Rock, Guitar Hero IV will be subtitled: Corporate Legends of Rock. Hey, maybe I’m wrong and Drum Hero will feature Phil Collins.

Now in all reality, the creators were probably schmoozing the band and there will be some master Aerosmith tracks included with the game. But really, Aerosmith?

That’s all for now.