Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GameCube) Preview

By Karn Spydar Lee Bianco 30.06.2004 2

Metroid Prime was easily one of 2002's greatest GameCube titles. Two years on and the sequel is already well into development and supposedly ready for a UK release by the end of the year, excellent news for fans of the series, and newcomers alike if they have any sense.

E3 hosted a playable version of Echoes; this consisted of one single player mission, and a couple of modes of multiplayer to try out. The game features a brand new plot, which follows straight on Metroid Prime. Samus has been assigned to a new exploration mission, based on the planet Aether. The order came from the Galactic Federation after they recently lost contact with Trooper squad Bravo. This is no ordinary planet though, as it has been divided into two separate dimensions (light and dark) by a massive Phazon filled meteor that struck its surface. There are two alien races inhabiting the different dimensions, these are the Ing and Luminon that inhabit the dark and light dimensions respectively. The two are engaged in a massive war, which is where Mrs. Aran comes into play, she is hired by the Luminon to stop the Ing from succeeding in their plan of world domination. For helping them, Samus is rewarded with new upgrades to her equipment and weapons, which will all become essential throughout the game.

In the version we played the game kicks into action with a stunning cut scene similar to the original. Samus lands her spaceship through a rather deadly looking storm and onto the planets surface. Then after some 'show-off' camera angles we gained control. From these brief moments it was already becoming apparent that the game featured far more detailed visuals than the original, Samus has never looked so gorgeous! Everything just runs so smoothly, and it was seriously difficult to stop ourselves drooling all over the equipment. From the very start of the game you have access to none other than the legendary Power Beam as well as the all knew Light Beam courtesy of the Luminon's. Later on in the game the Dark Beam will also become available, the combination of these two will add a whole range of puzzling possibilities. For example Light and Dark guns are most powerful when used against the opposite type of enemy, as well as this certain objects will react differently to each kind of Beam. In a twist from the original these two weapons will have there own specific ammo limitations.

Screenshot for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes on GameCube

Getting straight into the action we are confronted by a group of menacing Space Pirates. From this point there was some more of that all so familiar exploring, with some Morph-Ball sections as well to help split up the action. These consist of the same side on view that the original encompassed, they can be quite tricky if you're not careful. After this and yet more exploration you are treated to a brief glimpse of the creepy looking Dark Samus, last spotted at the end of Metroid Prime. She/It escapes through a portal to the Dark Dimension, despite being aware of the various dangerous of this mysterious place, you follow suit. To avoid getting yourself killed by the deadly environment, you must use your Light Beam to your advantage. As mentioned earlier it reacts with certain objects, for instance in the scene we played it was essential to shoot strange crustaceans that then provided a bubble of light in which you would be safe. At this point the evil Ing decide to make an appearance, more like a large blob of Darkness than anything else, these really are quite terrifying. They are vaguely Reminiscent of the Dementors from Harry Potter or the Ring Wraiths from the Lord of the Rings, only with a less humanoid appearance. Not only do they look evil, they are real tough buggers to get rid of! The Light Beam does of course inflict most damage, but should you run out of ammo and not have a chance to refuel it, then the basic Power Beam will do the trick. After disposing of them it was back to the light world again...

Just when you though you were safe, none other than Dark Samus pops up for a 'chat'. After a lovely tension-building cut scene, we were let loose at the evil looking version of our fine self. If you thought the Ing were tough, you haven't seen anything yet! Retaining both a mighty powerful Beam of some sort, and a Phazon Shield as well as the ability to float in mid air while charging it up, mean you're going to have to do some thinking as to how to dispose of the devil. Once we managed this boss battle, the demo ended, and we were most certainly left wanting more. Luckily however there was more, in the form of multiplayer! The lack of which was one of the biggest criticisms of the first game, Retro Studios definitely listened to the fans on this one, and we are oh so glad they did.

Screenshot for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes on GameCube

The version we play-tested consisted of two players only, four players was not available at this point. Despite this we got a very good feel for how the overall game is going to work with multiple players. It all runs just as smoothly as the single player game, although this is largely due to the decreased textures on your surroundings and character models etc. Many were worried as to how Metroid would work in multiplayer, especially seeing as the first 'Prime' was so reliant on scanning and exploration. Thankfully everything works excellently, and is extremely fun in all of its various elements. We started off with the Morph Ball and Power Beam, and were able to collect numerous Missile Pack upgrades throughout the demo as well. One of the brilliant new features is the inclusion of some rather large cannons, that while in Morph Ball form, allows you to fire off to previously unreachable areas or just the other side of the map if you want! This works very well for escaping your foe(s) when your health is depleted, or if you just feel like annoying the hell out of them!

Screenshot for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes on GameCube

There were two modes on show to us, one of which was the classic death match mode while the other was a sort of coin battle. The first is pretty straight forward as you would expect from any shoot-em-up title, and the second is similar but different enough to perhaps alter the way you might confront your opponent. For example rather than just trying to decrease your rivals health to zero, and in doing so scoring yourself a point, you must collect coins that they drop each time you hit them. The more powerful the hit the more coins they drop, for example a charged shot or missile will loose them more than a simple shot from the Power Beam. Strafing around each other firing off random shots hoping to pick up some extra bounty before legging it in fear of dying is great fun, but be warned can put players into a very competitive mood!

Screenshot for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes on GameCube

Final Thoughts

Well there are the main parts of the version we played covered, however Nintendo and Retro studios have been releasing many details over the past few months. First off the Screw Attack from the original 2D Metroid titles will be making a return as well as the Wall Mount which allows you to jump from wall to wall so as to reach higher areas. The two should be used in conjunction for best results (apparently), it's a shame these weren't included in the E3 demo, but sound very interesting regardless. All in all the game is shaping up VERY nicely indeed, and the announcement that Nintendo will be releasing the game over here in Europe before the US is the icing on the cake. With only a few months left until release, remember to keep eating, sleeping and forfilling and other duties you may be require to do so, as ignoring these will not make the game come any quicker. Unfortunately.

Developer

Retro

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (127 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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