Search

Looking back at Metroid: The spreading Corruption

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I enjoy Corruption almost as much as I enjoy Echoes, but for opposite reasons. Echoes took the cerebral elements from Prime and expanded on them, resulting in a content-dense, if slow-moving game. Corruption took the action-oriented parts from Prime and streamlined them, resulting in a fast paced, but simplified romp. This is something I need to state up front, as my review of the trilogy's final game contains the highest amount of criticism.



I really find Corruption fun, but I do not find it as satisfying as its precursors. In many ways, Corruption is very different from Prime or Echoes, demonstrating a versatility of vision and execution within the Metroid framework. Corruption distinguishes itself from the previous two games right from the start with the plot.

No mystery greets Samus when she arrives on the scene in Corruption. It is made clear in the opening cinematic that the Dark Hunter is alive and well. As soon as I have control of our heroine, I guide her to a meeting with three fellow bounty hunters and Admiral Dane, who leads a fleet of GFS battleships. The admiral briefs the gathered hunters on a pirate attack on the GFS Valhalla, which preceded a strange computer virus infecting the Aurora supercomputer network that the Federation relies on. The admiral barely finishes speaking when Space Pirates assault the fleet and Samus is thrown into action. The first goal is simply to make it back to her ship, rescuing space marines along the way (if you're quick enough). I enjoyed this quite a bit, both as a change of pace and on its own merits. Saving endangered marines is satisfying and passing by Samus' fellow hunters, kicking pirate ass in their own ways, is fun. Reaching the ship required, in true Metroid tradition, an inventive detour. Finally aboard, Samus flies to planet Norion to join the battle raging inside a military base.



Planetside, Samus is given new orders. Here, she must help reactivate the generators that power a cannon capable of destroying orbiting ships. The time she has to do this is short, as a new menace called a Leviathan is hurtling towards the planet. While working to bring the cannon on-line, Samus battles Ridley (not dead yet) and interacts with her peers: the hunters Rundas, Ghor, and Gandrayda. I like the little exchanges between Samus and the other hunters. Rundas and Ghor especially interest me, which makes their ultimate fates quite bitter, if not unexpected. It would have been nice if Retro had allowed the gamer the chance to bring about different outcomes when forced to confront the hunters after they'd been corrupted—unfortunately, the storytelling remains static. The fast-paced intro segment ends with the planetary cannon destroying the Leviathan ship in the nick of time, but not before Dark Samus shows up and blasts the good guys and gals with Phazon. A month later, Samus awakens with a new suit, and a new burden.

Plot plays a much more direct role in Corruption than it did in Prime and Echoes. Rather than flowing freely, the storytelling emphasizes objectives, handing out missions to Samus through cut scenes and (for the first time) fully implemented voice acting. If there's anything I find disheartening about Corruption, it's how intrusive some of the storytelling is. I have no problem with the cut scenes; what annoys me are the transmissions Samus receives. Apparently, in the world of Corruption, the purpose of supercomputers is to tell you the obvious. A lot of the information on where to go and what to do is unnecessary (example: being told I need to find a way to unlock a door separating me from my target. No, really?) In games like those of the Metroid series, where exploration and discovery are among the main draws, having the feel of someone's hand on my shoulder guiding me through the world step-by-step is incredibly detrimental to the experience.



For those who do need prompting, Corruption, like the past two games in the series, employs a hint system. Unfortunately, Corruption weaves the hint system into the narrative, and there's no way to turn it off. Certainly, I can toggle off the hints option, but the only effect is a question mark not being added to the map when the Aurora Unit interrupts Samus' investigations. I could ignore the prompt to open my map or the prompt to listen to the communique, but the "press button" message displayed on the screen obstructs part of my view and I just want it gone. Might as well let the game force me through the map view or listen to all the jabber just to get it over with and out of my face.

Once Samus is finally released from the care of the Federation and set loose upon the galaxy, her missions take her to a handful of planets and one very creepy space ship.

...continues on next page
 
Page 1 | 2 | 3