GAMECUBE REVIEW: METROID PRIME 2: ECHOES

Unlike the Classic NES version of Metroid that was recently released for the GBA, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes will not suffer the same humiliation bestowed upon it by Cole. If I read his review correctly I believe he was angered more that the game was even released on the GBA since it's available as a free unlockable in Metroid Zero Mission. I have to agree that some old games should just stay in the past where they belong.

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is the evolution of Metroid. Presented in 3D, this action-based, exploration shooter is an excellent example of a sequel as well as what the advancement of technology and the marriage of imagination can accomplish. You can't even compare the original Metroid to Echoes - and that's a good thing.

Comparisons begin and end with Metroid Prime, the surprising and stunning game that was created by Retro Studios a couple of years ago. Echoes picks up where it left off and makes up for lost time. There are new characters, locations and weapons in addition to a new storyline.

If you're looking for non-stop action, Echoes only delivers in waves. As an adventure game you will spend a lot of time exploring, collecting, amassing clues and solving puzzles. When the action hits, it hits big time. The relatively quiet and isolated stretches in between make the action appear more intense. If you like diversity in your gameplay this is the game for you.

Samus Aran reprises her role as the infamous, interplanetary bounty hunter. Called to investigate the disappearance of soldiers on the planet Aether, she finds herself in the middle of a war between the planet's two main inhabitants, the luminoth and the ing. The luminoth are light beings and exist in our dimensions. The ing are dark beings that belong to a different dimension but are able to cross into the luminoth's world to possess beings and spread their terror. To make matters worse, Samus's old foes, the space pirates, are also on the planet.

Through exploration you will uncover various bits of information relating to the war and other secrets about the planet. The environments are large and detailed which means you'll have a lot of exploring to do. An auto hint will help you along if you're flailing around for too long although this is an option you can disable if you'd rather do things the hard way. Trust me, some of these puzzles can be very esoteric and unless you've got a lot of time on your hands you'll be begging for some hints.

Samus is loaded with weapons and gadgets. As in the original game you can expect the wave and ice beams along with the morph ball, grapple beam, cannon and the requisite missiles and bombs. New weapons include Dark and Light beams that have to be used on dark and light enemies. Not all of the ammo is unlimited which will add more strategy to your gameplay as you must plan for conservation. Fortunately this is only for some secondary weapons. You will also have to know which weapons are more effective against certain enemies. You have lots of equipment at your disposal but not all of it is useful in every circumstance.

An auto targeting system frees you up to perform other tasks such as combat, escaping or accessing new areas. All stats will appear on your helmet HUD which allows you to share Samus' perspective. You can scan every room with various visor filters. They will allow you to see both dark and light enemies and there's even an echo visor that amplifies sound waves. The use of gadgets is reminiscent of Mission: Impossible.

Aether is a huge planet made even larger by the extra dark dimension. Both light and dark regions are believable. They are extremely well detailed although not entirely interactive. There's not a lot of character interaction either, which perfectly accentuates the mood. Deep ambience is created by the haunting soundtrack which kicks into gear when the fighting begins.

Samus looks great with sleek lines and smooth animation. The aliens are ugly and unsettling to look at. It's a nice feeling when you lay them to rest. The controls are tight and framerate is steady. Echoes is an impressive game on all counts with the exception of the multi-player mode. You can split the screen for four players to play Deathmatch or Bounty mode. However, it's the single-player mode that's worth the price of admission. The multi-player modes are just add-ons where the true feel of the single-player mode fails to permeate.

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is the epitome of impressive sequels. It's definitely going to be a consideration for GameCube game of the year.

Preview by Chris

There is a lot of buzz about new games slated for release. The sad part is most of the games that are getting the attention are not even slated for a GC version. Now some may read this and take that as a knock against the GC. I am not knocking the GC. I will say that Nintendo needs more "Killer Apps" and less been there done that sort of titles. Nintendo is trying to bring new things to the games. The problem is most of the games are old characters in a new game. Of course sequels are nothing new for any game company and they do sell. I just wish there were more new and fresh ideas rather than the same old thing for the GC system. Truth be told, I am sure Nintendo could care less about my thoughts of their marketing tactics or anyone else's for that matter. They do know how to build up hype and sell games. One game that has received some attention is the newest sequel to the Metroid Prime series. Echoes will allow players a chance to play a single-player adventure as well as a 4-player split screen mode.

Metroid Prime 2 looks like it will offer a few new things while keeping the same basic controls and weapons fans have enjoyed in the past. News from E3 on this one was mixed since they only had one map to play and see what is going on with the game. I have heard a few concerns about the Death match mode. Nintendo has decided to go with an auto lock-on system. I am not a fan of this option; however, when reading the information, the game seems to also require skill since there will be a ton of places to dodge oncoming weapons. It may be cool to have a chance to compete in a timed "DM" match. Nintendo has also decided to add coins to this mode. When a player hits another, coins will fall and range in value from 1-10 points each. The player who gets the most points wins. This may offer a few new challenges to the basic "DM" mode.

Echoes is a long way off from the release date so they have plenty of time to add to the 1-player mode and the new 4-player modes. Details are limited and this should be no surprise since Nintendo loves to keep gamers guessing. I will say so far the screen shots look good although a little more information on the 1-player mode and the new weapons would be nice. For now take a look at the screen shots and stay tuned. We will have an updated preview once more details are released. It's no Halo 2 but it may be good news for fans of the Metriod series.

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System: GameCube
Dev: Retro Studios
Pub: Nintendo
Release: Nov 2004
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Stew XX
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
4.5
CONTROL
5.0
MUSIC/FX
4.0
VALUE
2.5