If for some bizarre reason you thought Retro Studios would pull a Sam Raimi and ruin the entire Prime series with its trilogy closer, then think again. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is an excellent continuation of the series that propelled Samus into the 3D realm five years prior. Surprised? Truth be told, Corruption offers little innovation from a design standpoint, and may not deliver the same sense of awe as when you first stepped foot on Tallon VI, or entered the gorgeously-realized Phendrana Drifts. But nevertheless, combined with terrific controls that rival, no, obliterate, the dual analogue set-up and an epic quest that spans multiple, exotic worlds, Corruption may very well be the Wii’s best adventure yet.
If you’ve been along for the ride twice already, then you’ll feel right at home with Corruption. Aside from a Halo-esque opener that sees Samus aboard a federation vessel, calibrating her beam gun and interacting with the ship’s crew, Corruption remains faithful to its predecessors, for better or for worse. You’ll still explore exotic locales, search for suit upgrades that ultimately unlock new areas of the map, all the while backtracking great distances to complete your objectives. Indeed, the formula that has been the series’ staple for over a decade now is well intact and the game is both visually and artistically comparable to its predecessors, but don’t let this truth discourage you from diving head first into Samus’ latest and perhaps final adventure on Wii.
I’ll spare you the in-depth story details, but suffice it to say, Dark Samus is up to no good once more. Samus, along with her bounty hunter companions, must work to restore peace to the galaxy. To say any more would spoil the goods, not that the Prime series was ever meant to reach epic Asimov or Bradbury-like proportions, but in the end it’s the journey itself that’s going to propel you forward, not the occasional cutscene or lore scan. And what a journey Corruption is. It’s clear from the moment you set foot on the Tallon VI-like planet Bryyo, or zipline through the skytown, Elysia, that exploring the Metroid universe is as engrossing as ever. Collecting items and upgrades and vying for that coveted 100 percent completion rating becomes an obsession, and to that, Retro has done a fantastic job, even if, artistically speaking, Corruption doesn’t achieve a level of innovation on par with the original.
At its core, the item and exploration aspects of the series remain intact. Upgrading Samus and exploring every nook-and-cranny is what the series is all about, but fortunately Retro has made a few subtle additions to the formula that ultimately affects both the game’s puzzles and how you dispose of your enemies. For example, early on Samus receives a suit upgrade that allows her to manipulate the Phazon corrupting her body and use it to her advantage in battle. By holding down the + button Samus enters Hypermode. Here, you can shoot a barrage of Phazon blasts to mow down anything in your path, but at a cost. As much as Hypermode can turn the tide in your favour, you also have to be conscious of a few things. For one, you only have a short period of time to take advantage of this god-like power. Two, every time you enter Hypermode, you lose, in most cases, a full energy tank in the process. Finally, if you enjoy your Phazon-induced stay for too long, Samus becomes corrupted and the game ends.
As for the puzzles themselves, expect plenty of elaborate spider ball tracks and back tracking trips that will have you scratching your head, but unlike its predecessors, Corruption utilises Samus’ ship as more than simply a save station. In fact, later in the game the ship actually becomes an integral part of a few of the puzzles, requiring you use the ship’s own Grapple Beam to pick up and combine a series of relics in sequential order. Further to that, the ship can also be commanded to land at specific points in the map, which makes backtracking through Corruption’s massive locales much more bearable.
As well crafted as the puzzle and exploration elements are, Corruption’s greatest strength lies in its much-hyped Wii-enhanced controls that are so incredibly intuitive and responsive that going back to a dual analogue set up feels especially archaic and terribly clumsy. In fact, Corruption is the first true example of the Wii’s potential for first-person titles and obliterates the set up we’ve seen in such masterpieces as Far Cry and Red Steel. Although you’re given a couple of control schemes to choose from, we couldn’t possibly praise and recommend the Advanced set up enough. By selecting the advanced controls, you can aim the cursor with a much more heightened sensitivity allowing you to plough through enemies and navigate the game’s many corridors with ease. That said, we did find a few nagging issues with the button layout and lock-on systems. Firing missiles, for instance, can be a bit awkward as you have to press down on the d-pad, and the lock-on feature, more often than not, can’t keep up with airborne enemies.
Nit picking aside, above and beyond simply aiming the cursor and moving about, Retro has done wonders to capitalise on the Wii’s motion-sensing capabilities, requiring you to manipulate the Wii-mote and Nunchuk to push, pull, tilt and tug away at the many interactive objects and panels located throughout the game world. These gestures work extremely well in establishing an immersive experience and are a blast to pull off. One of best examples we can think of is using the Grapple Lasso, which you acquire very early on in Samus’ adventure, to latch on to panels and enemy shields and yank them away using the Nunchuk like a whip. All you have to do is lock on to the object and motion the Nunchuk forward as if you’re throwing a ball. Once the Lasso has connected, pull the Nunchuk back to remove the object. The entire process is incredibly satisfying to pull off and never gets old, even after you’ve yanked off seemingly dozens upon dozens of enemy shields.
As for the visuals, Retro clearly knows the Wii technology inside and out and the results speak for themselves. Corruption sports highly detailed and much larger environments to navigate, complete with plenty of snazzy particle effects and some truly expert use of bloom lighting. But it’s the subtle, well-defined features that won us over, like the reflection of Samus’ face in her visor, in which you can actually see her eyes following the cursor, not to mention the fantastic blur/static effects. With that in mind, as beautiful as Corruption is, it admittedly bears a striking resemblance to its GameCube brothers, both visually and stylistically, which is more of an observation than criticism since Prime one and two were both visual stunners in their own right.
As pleased as we are with Samus’ final journey, we do have a few minor gripes that need to be addressed. The sheer amount of scanning required in the game is a terrible annoyance as it’s not unusual to have to scan the same object two, three, even four times. Worse yet, the majority of scans offer absolutely no informational value whatsoever, instead, pointing out the obvious like how a machine has been turned on, or how an object has moved from its original location. So in order to get the best ending, you’ll have to have your visor equipped before entering practically every room. Also, Corruption suffers from a serious lack of save points. Even with the newfound mobility of your ship, it’s not unusual to go one or two hours without being able to save unless you abort your objective, do a 180 and hike it back to the last station.
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise to hear that Corruption is another fantastic effort by Retro Studios. The streamlined, pin-point accurate controls set a new precedent for first-person games on the Wii, and the game itself will keep you busy for more than a few weekends with its excellent achievement-like reward system and lengthy quest that easily took us 20 hours to collect every item, scan every object and obtain the best ending. Corruption may not be much of an evolution of the series, and it’s not without its flaws, but remains one of, if not, the biggest reason to own a Wii.