I Love Going on Weblogs and Complaining About Video Games I've Never Played!

I am unreasonably excited about Metroid Prime 3. Why unreasonably? I've been eagerly anticipating the game's release since last November, counting the days it comes out from the moment we got a firm release date. And yet I have not finished Metroid Prime 2, nor have I even gotten very far into it. In the 9 months I've been squirming in anticipation for Prime 3 I've never booted up Prime 2 to give it another try. And it isn't that I found Prime 2 particularly bad, though others have so found it. I only played a tiny bit of the game before getting distracted and wandering off to do something else. Yet, for some reason, Prime 3 excites me to no end.

In my quiet moments, I acknowledge that the most likely reason for my Prime Excitement is that I am hoping that it will fill the empty void in my heart that is at present aggressively not being filled by exciting Wii software. The Wii has certainly had some fun games, Twilight Princess, Trauma Center, Wario Ware, and Super Paper Mario, to name a few of them. Well, most of them. And I do get a lot of use out of the Virtual Console, a fabulous service that allows Wii owners to discover exactly how many shooters were released for the Turbo Grafx-16 (the answer, it turns out, is "quite a lot"). Still, the Wii has unquestionably lacked for Grade-A exclusive titles (Twilight Princess was simulataneously released for the Gamecube and the Wii, Trauma Center was a remake of a DS game, Super Paper Mario was originally going to be a Gamecube game and was only Wii-exclusive because Nintendo is very actively trying to forget the Gamecube, and Wario Ware, while an excellent mini-game collection, has the misfortune of being the best in an over-crowded field on the Wii. That's a fancy way of saying "Nine of every ten games released for the Wii are mini-game collections, and most of them are unplayable"). I remain optimistic about the Wii's prospects, and I continue to believe that Nintendo stands at the cusp of revolutionizing the video game market. But, though I am a Wii-vangelist, months of mini-game collections have left me in need of something to bolster my faith, which has led me to cling to hopes for Prime 3.

By all accounts, Prime 3 looks incredible. Reports have, so far, been glowing about the Wii controls, which could lead to more and better-designed first-person shooters on the console. The gameplay videos that Retro Studios has been releasing are suitably exciting, and the plot teasers, which hint of Mother Brain factories, phazon enhancement devices, and plans within plans, have only gotten me more excited. And yet...

I'm a little concerned about the direction it seems to be heading. First Jeremy Parish's 1Up preview back at E3 implied that the game seemed linear and mission-oriented, in contrast to prior Metroid games's free-form exploration. Since then there have been lots of reassurances that, no, the game is still just as much about exploration as it always was, just on a grander and more diverse scale.

I remained cautious, but optimistic; Parish's preview broached the possibility that the game was heading in an exciting new direction, merging Metroid's feel with Halo's hard-core FPS sensibility. That seemed exciting, as I'm always interested in change and innovation in video games. But now the other shoe has dropped with Shane Bettenhausen's preview, also at 1Up. Shane is far more of a hard-core FPS-type than Parish, and his preview, while generally positive, reveals the crucial flaws in attempting to attack the FPS market with Metroid. First, the Wii lacks the graphical prowess that the 360 and PS3 can bring to bear, putting Metroid at a notable visual disadvantage when compared to, for instance, Halo 3. Second, the Wii in general lacks a strong multiplayer backbone, and Metroid Prime 3 lacks any sort of multiplayer. I love Metroid's single-player experience to death, but it strikes me that it will be very difficult to sway hard-core FPS players with just a single-player game, fantastic though it may be. Finally, as Shane hints at, story-telling in Metroid is different than story-telling in Halo and other FPSes. Retro's experience so far has been in revealing fairly simple stories through bits and pieces discovered in the environment while exploring, and if Shane is right this experience hasn't translated well into producing modern FPS-style dialogue-based exposition.

I remain excited about Prime 3, though that excitement is perhaps a bit more muted. I still have a pre-order down, I still plan to play through it as much as possible before passing judgment. I worry, however, that in making something that tries to be both a Metroid game and a modern FPS they might have created something that doesn't do either very well.

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on August 23, 2007 2:27 AM.

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