Review: Metroid Prime: Hunters

DS Review

It's finally here; the first online shooter for the Nintendo DS… the second multiplayer Metroid game ever. Is this another must-have title for the DS? And where did all the Metroids go?!

In the philosophy of the DS, this title is a strange one. The often-used motto 'easy to learn, hard to master' doesn't apply here at all. Metroid games simply aren't that easy to get into. Not if you compare it to a Warioware type of affair. There's a lot of finger work involved in getting Samus Aran moving in the right direction. This is something likely to put 'casual gamers' off at first. After just a couple of plays, things do get easier and more natural, the question is; are 'casual gamers' prepared for the difficulty and self learning? Metroid just isn't as charming as, let's say, Mario Kart. You may say that this game serves a different audience.

Remember the often made comparison between controlling an FPS on the pc and playing one on the DS? Well, it's true. The stylus easily mimics the mouse – used to precisely aim and look around whist the analogue buttons– just like a keyboard - are to move Samus back and forth with the left shoulder button firing your weapon. This is one of the configurations at least, and probably the most favourable, though there are other styles so do try them out to find your preference. The controls do feel natural after a couple of play sessions, but yet another phenomena pops up after some time. Cramp. Holding your hands in the same position for a long time becomes inevitably painful. Especially when tension is rising and fingers get stretched. That being said, you just know this game is going to be worth the effort…

'Graphics aren't important' is one of those sentences often used by Nintendo and fans. However, Metroid Prime: Hunters is so good looking it's hard not to slobber. It's a lot more polished than the Metroid demo buyers received with their DS one year ago and frame drops only occur when the action gets really over-crowded, which is not too often. The sound is another high quality aspect. Players of Metroid games know how important the right music to the Metroid atmosphere and in this game everything falls in the right place.

Let me highlight the multiplayer aspect of the game first, which is a huge focus of the game. There are a total of seven game modes, available both off and online through WiFi. With inclusions of modes like survival, capture and defender; a similarity to the Quake games shows. The modes are enough to keep your heart pounding for a long period. With a maximum of four players battling, a choice between seven hunters to control – all with their own special abilities – and the availability of up to 26 arenas, there's nothing to complain about. Even one game card is enough to play multiplayer with friends. For the lonely ones without an internet access an option to add bots is included to keep them entertained as well.

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The online system is great. Matching up, registering friends, adding rivals… it's all so easy and fun to do. You'll be shooting strangers in no-time. In my own experience opponents haven't been as eager to disconnect as in Mario Kart. Everything you do is recorded in one big file – even any disconnects – so most of the players want these stats to be good. And for those who still wonder if the Metroid universe is fit for multiplayer gaming, with the new hunters and weapons, it now definitely proves it is. The new types of weapons never seem out of place.

In space nobody could hear you scream, with the microphone now you can. During the game voice chatting is disabled but in pre and post match discussion you can talk to the other hunters as much as you like. The voice-chatting works with the walky-talky principal. Push a button when you want to talk, let it go when you're finished. The quality is reasonable. You can only talk to those added as a friend or rival. This is Nintendo after all and they don't want you talking to old perverts and hairy strangers. Luckily you can add strangers you battled against to your rival list now, and if the pervert old man agrees, you can talk to him later as a rival. Lucky you.

Next to the multiplayer modes there's a single-player adventure available. We really should see this as an extra, as for a long time we wondered if there even was going to be a single player adventure. It's not that bad, but in no way comes close to the two GameCube adventures. You're not exploring a huge planet here, but a couple of little planets and space stations. Its Samus' task to collect Octolith's before rival bounty hunters find them. Most parts of the planets are based on the multiplayer arenas. Saving can only be done in one place, inside her gunship which sadly means lots of backtracking, especially annoying when you need to get off the bus.

Samus doesn't need to collect her traditional outfit during these explorations; instead, now finding new powerful weapons is required to open up new territories. One thing that bothered me in this adventure was the end-bosses which were a highlight of the GameCube adventures. In this game the same bosses keep coming back in somewhat harder-to-beat forms. It can be a pain in the butt having to fight the same 'terrifying' boss over again. Personally this is a big let down for me. Next to this, the single player mode is relative short. Seven or eight hours should be enough for you to finish it.

Calling this one-player mode a failure however doesn't do it justice. The game world does look beautiful thanks to the amazing graphics, you really wont believe your DS is capable of such graphics of this magnitude… Nintendo have really raised the bar, the DS has got skills! There are some exciting moments in there too, and the wide areas – though smaller than the GameCube ones - probably are the best the DS can create. It's a nice intermission for the heavily intensive multiplayer fights, but it just didn't fulfil my need for a new massive Metroid adventure.

The multiplayer focus really is the most important part of Metroid Prime: Hunters. If you're looking for a game to entertain you hours and hours in the single player then just be notified that this may not be that game. On the other hand, if you've access to WiFi and you dig shooting other players – or friends - from all around the world to pieces; this is the perfect game for you. The online system works perfect, controls are fluent and the Metroid atmosphere is achieved greatly. Heck, even the absence of original Metroids can't spoil the fun anymore. This is the new WiFi master.

N-Europe Final Verdict

The most explosive (and fun) multi-player game out there for the DS. You will love it if you strive to master the controls.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability4
  • Visuals5
  • Audio5
  • Lifespan4
Final Score

8

Pros

Great online system
Best looking game on the DS
Metroid atmosphere's holding up perfectly

Cons

Relatively short adventure
Cramp makes long play sessions hard
Playing well curve


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