Metroid Prime: Hunters
Developer: Nintendo Software Technology
Genre: First Person Shooter
|FIMP: Metroid Prime: Hunters [NDS]|
Anyone who hasn't played Goldeneye: Rogue Agent on the DS, or the First Hunt demo that was packed in with early Nintendo DS retail units, will have to come to grips with the lack of auto-aim and the learning curve that comes with free-look. This will particularly entice PC first-person shooter fans - yours truly included - as there is now the true precision aiming that has been forever missing from all first-person shooters using analog sticks as a substitution for mouselook.
Throughout my first two hours of the game, I found myself alternating between the little thumb-shoe that comes with the wrist-strap and the stylus for aiming. The thumb-shoe allows you to hold your DS more comfortably while maintaining precision aiming, but you might find yourself "running out of room" to slide your thumb around as it creeps closer and closer to the lower corner of the DS touch screen. The stylus allows the same precision at the expense of having to hold the DS with one hand and your other pinky. It also feels more "detached" in a sense.
The controls will take some a bit of practice to get used to, though I found myself laughing at how easily I dispatched my alien foes. The true FPS control, however, belies the nature of the single player game. Yes, it's a shooter - but only sort of. It's not very frantic or meaty at all, even. It's a sort of weird, blobular mix between a cerebral FPS and your typical Metroid Prime game. The extremes are not present. You do a bit of exploration, a bit of door unlocking, some blasting of small baddies coupled with one or two intense fights here and there. This is not the Doom of old, this is not Serious Sam, this is not Half Life 2 and this is not Ghost Recon. On the flip side, this is not entirely Metroid either. It's just weird, and although the single player game is fun, I really hope that a future installment includes either a full-blown frantic shooter experience or a full-blown exploration experience. Or maybe both. Hey, it CAN be done.
The multiplayer, on the other hand, really is the full-blown frantic shooter experience - something I'm very happy about. I've only been in one online match thus far, and tied with the guy 4 frags to 4. But I felt like I was back in the good old days, running around in Quake 2 on The Edge. No-holds barred shooting with jump pads, power ups, armor and under-the-breath cussing. If there's a game to get onto Nintendo's Wi-Fi connection for, this is it. This space will surely be updated once I get a hold of the other multiplayer modes.
Aesthetically, the DS is really straining hard to give us more than we could expect. The visuals are very, very pleasing - possibly the best 3D graphics on the system so far. The environments are all varied and colorful, and although the lack of texture filtering makes surfaces look really ugly up close, NST did the best it could in making everything look detailed. Polygon counts are surprisingly high for a DS game, and I've yet to see the game dip under 60 frames a second. I've heard that it does, however, so I'm bracing myself for that moment. Distant objects do tend to get grainy, and this is where I wish for a higher-resolution DS screen.
The sound, so far, has been almost flawless. I'd be hard-pressed to differentiate the ambient music and noises from a Gamecube Metroid Prime game. The music, on a compositional level, isn't as intriguing so far. The quality of the sounds, however, is high enough to possibly surpass the visuals in terms of fidelity. We'll have to see how things pan out as I continue to play the game.
So far, Metroid Prime: Hunters lives up to many of my expectations, and lets me down on a few key ones (namely the meatiness of the single player combat). Still worth a purchase, still a great game. But if the single player game continues its current trend, there's no doubt that I will want a better effort for any sequel NST decides to develop.
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