626th played so far

Genre: Action/First-Person Shooter
Platform: Gamecube
Year of Release: 2004
Developer: Retro Studios/Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

After finding out that the first Metroid Prime game was best played on the Gamecube rather than Wii, we also tracked down a Gamecube copy of the second in the game (the third only being available on the Wii anyway).

The first game had some pacing issues for me and only lit up some time in, when the training wheels fell away and we completed the first full, separate-seeming level. Will this fix that?

Our Thoughts

Metroid Prime 2 did grab me faster a lot earlier than the first game. A big part of that for me is, I think, that you start off in the open world straight away. It’s still more on wheels from the start, in part because (of course) you lose most of your goodies after the first set of rooms. There is a door you can’t go through until an hour or two in, mostly placed there to give you an easier route back to the starting area – not useful at the time, but tantalizing and making it clear there’s more content hidden.

It means that there’s quite a bit of variation in the level, and again, bringing you there earlier works better. The rails don’t quite come off – the game is more backtracking to find extra secrets rather than allowing you to go anywhere, of course for a large part because you gradually unlock more areas – but the suggestion of different areas, where you pass through a part of it but get it fully later – works quite well.

The way the setting is created is, again, interesting. A lot of it comes down to scanning items in the area, which give you journals and logs. It feels more refined here than in the first game, with a first big power being given in an area that as much is about finding the logs of the crew members of this ship, explaining what happened and some hints at what went wrong. The area feels lived in because of it. Sure, it’s pretty walking simulator like, but that is what works to tell a story in games.

The power set is fairly Metroid like, with a bunch of standard puzzles, but it feels like there are a bunch of places where the game does new things with it. One area has you go into your morph ball and pinball boost you up a tower – without much work on your end – which isn’t even a set piece, just a neat use of the system that I feel I didn’t quite see in the previous game. The game makes excellent use of its powers to enable and strengthen traversal, in part making it feel like you’re going where you’re not supposed to go (even if that’s what it’s designed for), which makes it more interesting.

There’s of course plenty of combat as well, although it takes a while for options to really feel available, but as so often it’s not what I’d focus on, and doesn’t stand out as much for me. They’re decent shooters, but a bit fiddly with having to shoot some far away things, and it felt like it was mostly used with the right frequency to add excitement, but without becoming the focus of the game.

Final Thoughts

Metroid Prime 2 feels like a genuine improvement on the first game, streamlining the experience a lot and giving you access to more vital/fun powers earlier. By integrating the tutorial, you get past the worst of the first game, and the set pieces we came across were more interesting and plentiful in the early game. It feels like you’re both sort of exploring an interesting world and trying to do something useful.