Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GameCube) Preview

By Adam Riley 20.10.2004 2

Review for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes on GameCube

Samus Aran has been roaming outer space now since the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System, always working on a mission related to Metroids, Space Pirates and, more often than not, Ridley and Mother Brain. The GameCube's first adventure for the bounty hunter, Metroid Prime, took the series into a new first-person direction and instantly became one of the most popular titles for the Nintendo GameCube and put Retro Studios well and truly on the development map. But can the home console sequel work the same magic as two years ago?

Many will remember that Metroid Prime was plagued with troubles right from the start. It appeared that the transition from 2D, side-scrolling multi-pathed adventuring to full-on, sprawling 3D world first-person action. The effort received more than a lukewarm reaction upon its first ever showing and the swarming critics pounced on Nintendo and the Austin, Texas-based team for whom this was their first ever project. It looked like after an eight-year hiatus, the Metroid series was being dragged into the new millennium only to be ripped to shreds. However, after the its other on-going projects, including the highly promising Raven Blade, were put on indefinite hold, matters took a turn for the better and an enviable piece of software was eventually produced and managed to even become many people's Game of the Year for 2002!

So, now the pressure is even greater. After dragging themselves back from the brink of doom and causing Nintendo massive embarrassment, which many deemed a miracle, Retro is now being called upon to deliver another marvel in the form of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. A quick FMV trailer was glimpsed originally and sent shivers through the spines of fans the world over, then shots of a four-player mode were leaked onto the Internet, although many believed there were ultimately fake without doubt since the Metroid series would never work in multi-player. How wrong those naysayers were, though...

In this new version, a squad of Galactic Federation Troops has gone 'absent without leave' and the only person suitable to carry out the recovery mission is none other than Ms Aran, bounty hunter extraordinaire. However, her dynamic return to the Nintendo GameCube see her being plagued by a shadow or herself, rather like the Italian plumber's trouble in Super Mario Sunshine, yet much more sinister. After discovering exactly where it is she has to travel to, Samus discovers that the planet Aether is currently suffering from a state of trans-dimensional flux (like a common cold, but slightly more annoying...honest!). Basically this means that it is co-existing with a 'dark' version of the same world. This would have been no problem, if the Space Pirates had not become involved. Yet, in typical villainous fashion, they did interfere and now their visit has not only alerted the native beings of Aether, the Ing Hordes, but another mysterious figure that has been termed as the 'Dark Hunter'. This hunter bears a striking resemblance to the lovely Samus Aran who everyone has come to know and love, complete with power armour, except garbed in black. Who Dark Samus actually is, where she comes from and what exactly she wants is completely unknown, but it surely cannot be anything good.

Screenshot for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes on GameCube

This all goes towards setting the scene perfectly for what could indeed be the 'Link to the Past' of Metroid games, switching between Dark and Light throughout play. The game once again takes place in the form of a First-Person Adventure title that is played out within the open field of a completely three-dimensional world. Taking control of Ms Aran looks like being every bit as spectacular as it was the first time round, with a graphical level that just about manages to out-do Prime on the surface and blows it into outer space (how appropriate!) when inspecting matters on a closer level. The artists and programmers have, as stated by themselves in a recent interview, stripped the original down to its basics and re-built from the foundation upwards, resulting in a somewhat familiar look, yet a stunning extra sheen that is overwhelming when viewing the movie clips released so far.

It is not just the graphics that have received an overhaul, though, with a multitude of new abilities at hand, Samus is more of a fighting machine than ever. With such an array of firepower, the phrase being flung around 'Don't send a man to do a woman's job' seems quite fitting as Ms Aran is more than capable of handling herself in any situation she is faced with. However, you will need to hastily learn which weapon to use in which scenario, as the new Light and Dark beams are only effective in their counter-atmospheres, with the Light World creatures being devastated but the Dark beam and vice-versa. The same applies to surrounding objects, adding to the puzzle factor found in the Metroid series considerably.

As already mentioned, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda III: A Link to the Past in the way that the game involves travelling between two worlds and seeking out weapon and health upgrades that can be collected by searching for secret areas and working each specific area to your advantage. But it is imperative that players heed that warnings about the Dark World, ensuring that the constantly remain on the lookout for the protective bubbles that exist at various locations there. These prove to be vital to Samus' survival in the treacherous conditions of the wholly unfriendly and not at all welcoming environment. Thankfully, one of the ultra useful manoeuvres from the SNES' Super Metroid, the Screw Attack, makes a return and is just one of the upgrades that her power suit can be enhanced with when coming across expansion pods.

Screenshot for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes on GameCube

Final Thoughts

Retro Studios has clearly pushed to make Echoes more than just a rudimentary second outing in order to push sales of the GameCube up. A lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into perfecting what was already an astounding game. So as soon as the 26th November rolls around in Europe, you would be absolutely crazy not to make this one of your essential Christmas purchases!

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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