Reviews// Metroid Prime 2 Echoes

The Marmite factor

Posted 25 Nov 2004 17:23 by
The significant twist for the sequel is the introduction of dark and light sides to the world (Aether) and corresponding dark and light beams used for opposite effects in each. The light world is more closely related to traditional Metroid Prime, whilst the dark world adds a more devilish pace to the action. It still doesn’t resemble a normal FPS, but the increased number of alien foes certainly heats up the mix. And that same dark/light separation can be vaguely applied to this review. Parts of Metroid 2 make us feel dark, angry and moody; whilst other parts fill us with a warm satisfying glow, turning the world around us into a place of contented peacefulness.

The control system, for example, is always an issue of contention when discussing the merits of the set-up. If you’re trying to play it as an FPS, it can easily rub you up the wrong way, just by being too different in its simplicity. If Retro had included customisable control options, this could so easily have been circumvented, appeasing those with strict FPS habits in the process. However, on the light side, fans argue that this lock-on style is the most suitable control mechanism that could possibly have been opted for, and that you really ought to play it like this. Indeed, once you’ve got used to it, it does work more efficiently than it might appear to on paper.

There’s a similar debate over the emphasis on exploration. In a dark mood, this will bore you witless and potentially usher you into a state of slumber. Alternatively, from a light side perspective, this exploration focus is wonderfully calming and truly reminiscent of Metroid’s earliest outings. The back-tracking phenomenon was born through technological restrictions and the actual need to re-use environments, so Prime 2 arguably shouldn’t make the player wander back and forth as much as it does. However, it does mean that you get the chance to really get to know your environment, which is vital in making the exploring bits more gratifying. When a new area opens up to you, it can seem a little daunting; but it does feel like you’ve just landed on an alien planet and you’ll be keen to work out how the various tools that you find along the way aid your progress. What’s more, this new world has been designed with all the talent and passion you would expect from a key Nintendo franchise: and so you do genuinely want to explore it.

The third and final niggle is that bloody scanning malarkey. For a game often reliant on ‘find the key, then find the lock’ type gameplay, this can prove rather tiresome. Let’s say you enter a new chamber, and you can see a corpse you want to investigate. With most other games, you’d position your avatar near the body and press a button. That would be it. But with MP2E, it’s a whole lot more complicated. First you’ll need to position your line of sight with said object, then switch from battle to scanner mode, then focus on the object, then press and hold L1 until all the details are reeled off. But, of course, they’re not reeled off directly onto the screen. Instead, you then have to switch to the pause menu, and then select the logbook, and then churn through an overly ornate three-dimensional menu and submenu system in order to find the new data you just found. And then, quite probably, you’ll realise that the data was irrelevant storyline-filler anyway. Sheesh!
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Ditto 26 Nov 2004 11:21
Another cracking review Spong!

Just a couple of points:
* If you scan by holding down L and then keep the button held down while pressing A you can read the text on-screen without going into the menu. Much easier. The scanning is a way for making you explore rather than being spoon-fed all the information needed to complete the game - important in making an in-depth game.
* The controls are amazing. I love Metroid Prime's controls. Having spent far too long playing 2D games I just cannot use the controls of most FPS - they're beyond me. Metorid's controls are perfect for the exploration theme of the game and are easy to pick up and use. My main worry for Prime 2 was that Retro would remove the amazing control scheme. It plays like the 2D version.

Otherwise an excellent review which will hopefully convince people to try one of the best two games of the current generation.
bunny goes squish 26 Nov 2004 15:50
Excellent review, especially the analogy to cigarettes - absolutely spot on.
I myself had a copy of the first Metroid Prime sitting at the bottom of my stack of games, barely played for a long long time wondering why the hell it was so highly rated. Sure it looked pretty but so much of it was extremely frustrating. I'd start the game, get so far in, get frustrated/bored of it and not touch it for ages. A couple of months later, I'd try to get into it again, load up an old save file, realise I'd forgotton where I was upto or what I was doing, get annoyed again and leave it for another week. It'd then tempt me back once more, i'd restart, play it again but get that bit further.
It wasn't till the third time around the above cycle, that I actually properly got into MP, understood what it is all about and completed it.
All its elements fit together perfectly and it's only when you begin to look at them as a whole, rather than individual bits, that you truly succumb to its' wonder. The first is one of the most perfectly formed games I've ever played and I cannot wait to get my hands on this sequel.
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Ditto 26 Nov 2004 18:04
Having played this game a bit more throughly now, I think that it's good but not as good as the first one.

I miss the old scan visor with small coloured blocks rather than ugly lumps and your comment about the absurd menu system that becomes very irritating very quickly is spot on. It also sets itself to multiplayer at the beginning when most peope will want single.

I get the feeling less care was taken in this game's production that the previous game. The storyline at the start doesn't hold together, and I don't have the same sense of wonder as I got in the first. There's also less scan text.

But still good - a tad disappointed though.
Ditto 30 Nov 2004 08:56
Ahh! I've got it - sorry about making another post.

When you scan something that is "sent to the log book" you don't need to go through the annyoing menus. Simply press Start.

Above the text it kinda flashes "press START to go to the logbook" - press Start and it takes you directly there.

I must admit, it took me a while to get that!
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