Metroid Prime: Corruption is the final part in the Metroid Prime trilogy, a subset within the Metroid saga that started its life on the Nintendo GameCube. More than twenty years passed since the first Metroid game was released but Corruption still feels strangely familiar, while at the same time making full use of modern gaming capabilities. This mix of old and new makes it an instant classic that belongs to the best the Wii has on offer.
See, I was there when the first Metroid game arrived on the NES. Times were different back then and with a paper manual as your only proper guidance you were supposed to save the planet from the Metroid invasion. The game was bitch hard, but ultimately rewarding. The Prime series moved their focus to other threats (the Metroid creatures are still here though), but the broad mechanics of the game haven't changed much. Walk around, solve puzzles, find upgrades for your suit and unlock previously inaccessible parts. And if you want all there is to find, there's plenty of backtracking to be done.
Corruption is no longer a 2d side-scrolling platformer though, but a combination of a third and first person 3d action game. While not exactly a first person shooter (the focus lies on adventuring, not so much on blasting enemies), the game does play like one. Now, before you start worrying that fps controls on consoles aren't that great, Corruption comes with a pretty novel control system that will make you forget mouse controls in a blink.
The nunchuk is used to walk around the levels, the Wii-mote is used to scan your environments. This makes looking around the place a much more tangible experience, pulling you into the game world like no mouse controls could ever accomplish. Once you get used to this setup (to be honest, it did take me a while) you can increase the sensitivity of your controls to maximize the experience. Making a full 360 still takes a little longer than necessary, but apart from that I've never experienced fps control this good, to the point where it actually defines the whole gaming experience.
Safe the somewhat boring intro and the dull human character designs, the game looks absolutely striking. The environments are detailed, unique and especially on Elysia the views are awe-inspiring. There's a great sense of culture radiating from the individual planets, more so than in previous Metroid games. There are also plenty nifty visual details (like the morph ball - fps switch or the visor reflection in scan mode) that liven up the overall look, making it a serious visual upgrade from previous installments.
The music too seems a bit more integrated. I've played through a couple of hours of Prime 2 and while there are more recognizable music pieces there, the integration with the game is somewhat rough and stilted. Corruption aims for full atmopsheric immersion, which pays off in the long run. The voice acting is rather tame though, but I guess that's something games in general should pay more attention to. American dubbing usually aims for budget or big names, quality is often a distant second.
As someone who isn't quite up to date with modern gaming mechanisms, Corruption is quite player-friendly, giving you plenty of pointers and hints to find your way and to solve puzzles. Maybe a little too much at times, but from what I gather it's something modern gamers actually expect from a game. Usually it suffices to scan the room for special objects to figure out how to solve a puzzles.
Boss fights can be a bit trickier. Bosses are huge and usually require a sequence of attacks before their weak spots can be targeted. Once you get used to the controls and to switching between attack modes (normal, morph ball, hyper) things get a little easier, but the first few bosses where tough as hell for me, often resulting in 15 minutes of blasting without putting any kind of dent in their health bar. In fact, bosses should be approached more like actual puzzles instead of typical cannon fodder.
Where Corruption also shines is level and puzzle design. Even though there aren't too many suit and weapon upgrades, the game makes sure that even though some puzzles might require the exact same actions, they still feel novel and exciting. This is also due to the scale of some puzzles, which can sometimes require you to reorganize whole gaming environments or make maximum use of all the object present.
Corruption isn't without a few little flaws. The map layout could've been a bit more player-friendly (mark backtracking spots for future reference), the action often revolves around dealing more damage than receiving rather than planning tactical fights, traveling between locations could be more streamlined and the introduction of the game is a bit lacking compared to the rest, but none of these elements are serious enough to detract from the overall experience.
Metroid Prime: Corruption is definitely one of the more immersive games I've played in a long time. The controls are stellar, the worlds to explore are sublime and the puzzles are varied and rewarding. The game looks great, is a tad on the easy side once you master the gaming mechanism but will last you quite a few hours when you include backtracking for missed power-ups. A great upgrade from the second Prime game and one of the best games the Wii has on offer. It's a shame the trilogy had to end here, I wouldn't have minded another sequel.
Check out a nice gameplay trailer.