This is one you cannot afford to miss.
You've been hearing a lot about how great Bioshock is but you haven't been hearing enough about how great Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is. Kiwi gamers may have to wait until the end of October to play it but that didn't stop us from getting some hands-on time with an import version. Metroid Prime 3 is exactly what fans of the series have been clamoring for.
Admittedly, we've only managed to blast, bomb and grapple our way through the first ten hours of the game (roughly 40% completion rate), but even with our brief stay, it's very clear that Retro Studios has done wonders to capitalise on the Wii's strengths while simultaneously expanding upon the Metroid universe with a richer, far more interactive story.
If you've been along for the first two rides, then as soon as you boot up Prime 3 you'll immediately feel at home. From a design standpoint, Prime 3 plays out exactly how you'd expect, meaning you'll traverse through exotic, alien terrain, scan through every nook and cranny in search of item expansions and revisit many locales after acquiring new upgrades to unlock new areas of the map to explore.
That said, Retro has also made a few notable changes to the formula and although I swore to myself before writing up this preview that I wouldn't mention the word Halo, the comparisons are inevitable and justified - at least for the first hour or so of play. Unlike Prime and Echoes, where you were thrust into the game's universe immediately upon start-up, Corruption instead begins with Samus aboard a federation vessel where you'll be able to explore, scan and speak to the many soldiers and scientists before embarking on your journey. Unfortunately, your stay aboard the S.S. Olympus is short-lived as the ship is quickly boarded by space pirates, forcing Samus to spring into action. It's here that you'll get your feet wet with Prime 3's new Wii-enhanced control scheme, and we're happy to report that Retro has done a fantastic job at bringing near mouse-like performance to consoles. In fact, aiming is so quick and precise (provided you've chosen the advanced configuration) that after playing Prime 3 for a mere hour, we found it surprisingly difficult to go back to the seemingly archaic dual analog set up found in other first-person titles.
On top of that, the Wii controller is often used above-and-beyond simply targeting enemies. At various points in the game you'll be required to use motion gestures to unlock doors, guide Samus' hands to enter in keycodes and remove debris and panels using the nifty Grapple Lasso. Speaking of which, the Grapple Lasso will quickly become your best friend during the earlier portions of the game. The way it works is simple: lock onto an object highlighted with the classic grapple icon, then quickly swing the nunchuk forward to latch on to the object and back to remove it. Similarly, some enemies come equipped with shields, so you must use the Lasso first to yank the shield from their hands before blasting away at their bodies.
I'm equally happy with some of the new design choices Retro has made, particularly in regard to the level of interactivity you'll have with your Hunter-Class Gunship. Instead of your ship simply being another save point, you'll now be able to use it to travel to multiple planets and, better yet, you'll gain access to a handful of landing zones for each, greatly reducing the need to re-traverse large portions of the map for a single item.
As far as the planets themselves, Retro has outfitted each with wildly diverse terrain, puzzles and enemies. Norion, for example - the first planet you'll visit - has Samus working with another group of bounty hunters to traverse through a futuristic military outpost to activate a series of generators, and also happens to be where you'll have your first encounter with Samus' winged nemesis, Ridley - straight from the demo first shown at E3 2006. Bryyo, on the other hand, the second planet you'll need to visit (though you can also travel to Elysia from the get-go) is not unlike Tallon IV with its sprawling alien architecture, and barren, desert-like landscapes.
If I had to choose one aspect of Corruption that I'm not particularly fond of, it would have to be the sheer number of scans required to get the precious 100 percent complete rating. Granted, this system has appeared in full force since the original, but Corruption takes it to a whole new extreme, requiring you to scan dozens upon dozens of objects - in most cases, multiple times - and because you can only scan some objects once, if you want to snag the best rating and ultimately get the best ending, you'll need to have your visor equipped before entering practically every room.
With still another 10 or so hours to go before Samus' epic adventure comes to a close, I've still got plenty of sights to see, easter eggs to find (look for two hilarious hidden messages from Iwata and Miyamoto, though both are in Japanese) and bad ass bosses to dispatch, but it shouldn't be much of a shock to fans to hear that Corruption absolutely rocks.