Review: Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

I need to start by saying one thing: If you didn't like Metroid Prime a) you are wrong and b) don't even bother reading this, there isn't a hope that you will enjoy this game. Having said that, I would hope most of you would be open minded enough to give it a go, and see just how great the Metroid Prime series is. Another quick rant also I'm afraid. Can people stop complaining about backtracking?! I feel it makes the game feel more realistic, and it means you get to explore every nook and cranny of the amazing world that Retro has made.


Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is the most direct sequel I have ever seen. It uses the same engine, most of the same SFX, character models, some of the same architectural details and is set immediately after the effects described in Metroid Prime. However, it is also much larger, much harder and has a really fantastic story.

Before I launch into the full review, I thought it would be interesting just to consider the history of Metroid. It would also help to discuss Metroid Prime, as Echoes owes so much to it.

A Short History Of Metroid

The Metroid series has gone through a lot of changes in its remarkably long history – the first Metroid game was released on the NES, way back in 1986. Back then it was a 2-D adventure platformer, much like the early Zelda games. It was a great success, and had many gamers hooked. Then there was a 6 year wait for the GameBoy sequel and a further 2 before 1994's release of Super Metroid on the SNES.

Then nothing… for years. Many people new to Nintendo stared in confusion at the Super Smash Bros character selection screen at this mysterious 'Samus' character. Who was she? Where did she come from? This was a clear message from Nintendo, Gunpei Yokoi (the creator of Metroid, and many, many other remarkable things) may have died, but the series hasn't. So, a new sequel was on the cards.

Make way for Samus.

The technical term for what happened during the making of Metroid Prime is 'Developmental Hell'. It was torn apart and rebuilt on more than one occasion, the company was nearly disbanded and the first screen shots were not met with universal approval. Many thought there were too many questions unanswered, and couldn't see how the series could survive the switch from 2-D platformer to 3-D FPS. As the release got pushed further and further back it hampered still further by several Nintendo bigwigs publicly stating their dislike for the new game.

Finally Shigeru Miyamoto was sent in to sort out those pesky chaps at Retro Studios. What a job he did! The wave of screen shots that came out after he flew in was greeted by gasps and wonder. Suddenly the world was glad this game was being made and everyone was looking forward to it. After the first playable demo was shown at E3 the questions were answered – it's not an FPS, it's a whole new genre of first person adventuring.

Not only did it play well, it really looked the part. The graphics were some of the best to hit the 'Cube, with intricacies and atmosphere building graphical touches everywhere. Just walking along a corridor you could see that the person who made it had cared about it. Nothing was rushed or incomplete, and all the decoration was appropriate. It was finally released in 2002.


The story of Echoes is very interesting, and a lot darker than what we have seen before in Metroid games. It takes place on the Planet Aether, which Samus was passing on her way back from Tallon IV. After picking up a distress signal she landed on the uncharted planet, however heavy storms destroyed her ship, leaving her stranded. Soon she discovers that something is wrong. Dead bodies litter corridors, and mysterious 'Dark' creatures appear. There are clearly strong forces at work here. As she continues her quest a Chozo-like force, the Ing, guides her. Aether has been torn apart by a 'Trans-dimensional rift', creating a parallel planet, or Dark World. This world is toxic to anything that hasn't evolved to live there. Parts of the dark power that controls the world can leak through, and absorb creatures in the light world, making them stronger and harder to kill. Littered through Aether are portals, where Samus (and other creatures) can jump from one world to another. The story gets even stranger upon the discovery of a 'Dark Hunter'. But… I don't want to spoil any more of the story for you, trust me; it's very, very exciting.

A new story and new world also means new weapons and power ups. The weapons system works differently, in addition to the basic blaster and missile you also get 'Light' and 'Dark' weaponry which has a limited amounts of shots. Ammo for these weapons is scarce, plus some creatures are invulnerable to different types of gun, so you need to think carefully before making your choice of what weapon to use.


To progress through the game there are a number of puzzles that must be solved, much like Metroid Prime. These have got considerably harder, not simply because the skill level required to complete them has increased, but also due to the introduction of the parallel universe. You have to remember that what you change in one universe may change the other universe. In some situations you want this, but not always. There is a HUGE amount to be scanned if you want to complete the game with 100%. Thankfully the scanning system has been tweaked slightly, so you know what you have scanned and haven't, so you don't waste valuable time scanning a Space Pirate for the umpteenth time 'just to make sure'. However, if you aren't going for 100%, there is some but not excess amounts of mission critical scanning so don't worry if you hated it.


So the gameplay is much like Metroid Prime, just much harder and longer, what about the rest of the game? The SFX are still excellent. For me the music in Metroid Prime was one of its strongest points. It set the atmosphere unbelievably well, creating tension with the flick of a switch. In Echoes it is the same. In fact it really is the same. Virtually all the music and SFX are lifted straight from Prime, which for me removes some of the shine of the game. It would have been nice to hear some new music as the environments are very different. However, the music still works very well, so it's not a major issue.

Graphically it is superb. Runs smoothly, zero loading times, detail on every surface – a joy to visually embrace. In fact the only thing stopping me from giving 5/5 for the graphics is the fact that I have seen Resident Evil 4, which runs just as well, but looks even sweeter. However, as with the sounds there is a slight feeling that maybe they could have tried to do something more to the graphics, as surely in the 2 years they have been working on the game they have become more familiar with how the 'Cube works and how to get even more out of it. Again it's no major issue, just a nagging feeling that the same care and effort hasn't been put into the game, unfair perhaps as it is still visually stunning.


The biggest change in the sequel is the inclusion of a multiplayer mode. There are a variety of different maps all with their own distinct characteristics. A favourite of mine is a map based on the Space Station Samus begins her quest on in Metroid Prime. The maps are large with a number of routes, power ups, levels and morph ball paths. The one problem many people had with the thought of a multiplayer mode is the lock-on aiming. I am pleased to say that the lock-on system of aiming doesn't remove the skill at all, just remember how agile Samus is and you'll realise lock-on is the only way you would ever hit her. As a result, battles are very fast paced and agile affairs and are very enjoyable. There are several gameplay modes, ranging from normal death match to bounty mode, which is essentially the same as the coin collection mode in Smash Brothers. Whilst it doesn't come close to Timesplitters 2 for sheer multiplayer joy, it doesn't do a bad job and seems an excellent way to waste away the Christmas break.

Overall, this is a truly excellent game. It is very well made, challenging, long and so amazingly atmospheric. Sadly, there is a small voice at the back of my head, when ever I see or hear something lifted from Prime, nagging at me, asking why Retro couldn't have just put a tiny bit more effort in and given us a completely new game. The amount of effort put into Metroid Prime was simply staggering, with a variety of people, all very well respected in their industries called in to help with each part. Rather than call these people in again, they have simply just used what they did before. Whilst this still leaves a AAA game, it just leaves the cherry off the top of the cake for emphatic Metroid fans.

N-Europe Final Verdict

I guess I'm being harsh and fussy. Prime was great, and I am thrilled at the chance to play more of it. But maybe they could've called this Metroid Prime 1.5: Echoes.

  • Gameplay5
  • Playability5
  • Visuals5
  • Audio5
  • Lifespan5
Final Score



Good multiplayer
Great fun


If anything, as good as it is, it doesn't look like the result of 2 years work.

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