GameCube

  News 
  Reviews
  Previews
  Hardware
  Interviews
  All Features

Areas

  3DS
  Android
  iPad
  iPhone
  Mac
  PC
  PlayStation 3
  Vita
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Media
  Archives
  Search
  Contests

 

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

Score: 95%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Retro Studios
Media: GCD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: First Person Shooter


Graphics & Sound:

Retro Studios has really outdone themselves with Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. The rich, alien landscapes presented in the original return and have even been tweaked to give the game even more color and life. The game’s art direction is still among the best and shows some real high points in design. Each area Samus travels to has its own unique look that helps to make it feel like a completely new environment, all the while still feeling like one part of a greater whole. Traveling from the light world into the dark world is a trip in of itself. The light world areas may look weird, but it all breaks loose once you see some of the tricked out areas in the dark world.

The game’s soundtrack is as unique as its art direction. Familiar themes from the original games are carried into the follow-up, as are some new tracks. Each stays true to the techno-inspired music from the original and really helps to set the mood of each area. Sound effects should be familiar to fans of the series and fit in with everything else. Everything about Echoes’ presentation falls right into place and doesn’t miss a step.


Gameplay:

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes finds Samus on a mission to the planet Aether; a planet once hit by an asteroid, leaving it split into two mirroring sides: one dark, one light. The Luminoth, who inhabit the light side of the planet, are at war with the Ing, the residents of the dark side. After a group of marines go missing on the planet, Samus is pulled into the conflict. She is drawn deeper into the fray when the Luminoth enlist Samus to help repair the split and reunite the world.

Fans of Metroid Prime, or really any of the Metroid games, should already be familiar with the game’s play-style. Samus begins her adventure in standard armor with her mission to unite the two sides of Aether. As she explores the world, she will earn new powers and abilities which will help her reach new areas and her goal. The big twist in Echoes is the split between the two mirror worlds. Throughout her mission, Samus will have to pass between the light and dark worlds in order to solve puzzles. Though each world is a mirror image, each has small differences. Traveling into the dark world isn’t as easy, at least at first. Due to the harsh conditions in the world, Samus must travel between light “bubbles” set up in the dark world. Once she acquires the right armor, she can travel freely in the dark world.

Echoes includes the same variety of weapons and gadgets found in other games, and adds a few new wrinkles. Playing into the light/dark theme of the entire game, Samus now has use of light and dark beams. These are used to solve puzzles in different worlds, as well as deal extra damage to enemies with opposite attributes (i.e. the dark beam does more damage to light enemies). Adding a new twist to the game, both cannons have limited ammo (similar to missiles) -- so use them sparingly. Other useful gadgets include a new visor mode that allows Samus to see better when on the dark side of Aether; there’s also a sonic viewer that allows her to see sound. The ability to “see” sound makes finding invisible enemies easier and plays a part in some puzzles.

Adding to the new concepts in Echoes, a multiplayer mode is also included. Unfortunately, these modes are some of the weaker aspects of the entire game and help to drag it down. Multiplayer includes a deatmatch mode where you can compete in split-screen matches or a coin collection mode. The modes can be fun for a little while, but Echoes’s non-FPS-like control scheme doesn’t really work for the fast-paced action needed in FPS deathmatches.


Difficulty:

Hardened Metroid vets will find Metroid Prime 2: Echoes to be just as challenging as previous games; maybe a little harder. Exploration is still the name of the game, as is constant backtracking. The game is pretty straight-forward and easy to follow if you’re just trying to complete the game, but in order to unlock everything Echoes has to offer, expect to do a lot of hard-nosed exploration and sleuthing. Even more casual players who aren’t hell-bent on finding every last energy tank and missile will still have to do a little searching to get the necessary upgrades needed to take out some bosses. Boss fights are mostly about trial-and-error and will require you to employ some pretty complicated tactics in order to proceed.

The save system used in previous games also returns, which could cause some unneeded frustration for some players. Save points are scattered throughout the world, so it’s a good idea to save whenever you see one. Otherwise, you may find yourself having to backtrack even more and replaying some areas multiple times.


Game Mechanics:

When it came to controls in Metroid Prime, players either loved it or hated it. I wasn’t a big fan of the system in the original, but found that it grew on me in Echoes -- somewhat. The main problem lies in the aiming system. Unlike other console FPSs, which use both analog sticks to control and aim, only the right analog stick is used. Aiming is handled by pressing a shoulder button to lock-on to a target. Many of the problems in Echoes stem from the system, which is functional but unnatural. When facing slow moving enemies, there is no problem. But when you get into hectic battles, there’s still that instinctive reaction to aim towards it with a flick of the c-stick. There were times in the game where I was tempted to thumb around with the c-stick in order to better see my environments.

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is faithful to the series and also manages to sneak a few new ideas into the game’s well-worn exploration. Echoes is everything fans could want from the series, but control issues and constant backtracking may leave some more casual players feeling left in the dark.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Sony PlayStation 2 Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 Windows Half-Life 2

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated