Metroid Prime Trilogy Review (PART 2: ECHOES AND RESKINS)


Ah, Metroid Prime 2, perhaps one of the most (if not THE most) underrated triple-A Nintendo titles (and especially sequels) in recent memory...and also easily one of the best. So, how does it hold up when compared to Metroid Prime 1, IE the game that it is very clearly being dragged behind with a leash? Well, let's spend approximately half an hour analyzing it with our Scan Visors and see.

STORY: Taking a noticeably darker and edgier approach to storytelling than basically any other Metroid game (yes, even Fusion and Corruption, even if those two technically have much more disturbing THEMES behind their storylines), Metroid Prime 2 starts right off the bat with Samus crash-landing on an incredibly creepy and very clearly dimensionally-fluxed planet called Aether, which actually quite probably has even MORE pronounced elements of the classic "abandoned wasteland" trope than the Fallout games' settings, and during said crash-landing, her ship gets hit by so much lightning that it ends up being completely disabled and having to resort to its ridiculously slow auto-repairing process (that takes literally the ENTIRE roughly twenty-five-to-thirty-hour-long game to finish, mind you) in order to become functional again.

Of course, naturally, she conveniently crash-lands right into the nearest carnivorous space-insect hive, where she finds god-knows-how-many of her fellow Galactic Troopers' corpses being webbed up and eaten by the aforementioned Splinter bugs, with the local dark energy later coming along and mutating several OF said corpses into zombies, just to set the tone for future segments of this game (which believe me, this is by far one of the LEAST dark moments of this game).

Shortly before finally making it out of the hive, Samus gets sucked into a dark portal (where she is ridiculously conveniently introduced to the new Safe Zone mechanic) and is confronted by Dark Samus, who (after glaring at her cowboy-western-shootout-prelude-style for several seconds) promptly proceeds to shoot the power crystal that just so happens to be generating Samus' Safe Zone forcefield, allowing the Dark World's local Ing monstrosities to violently maul her and inexplicably steal nearly all of her abilities in the process (seriously, how does that even WORK?).

One elevator ride back to the surface later, Samus finds herself at the unsettlingly deserted grounds of a massive space temple that she's never seen before (and also one that is shockingly NOT former home to the Chozo for once), where, after trudging through quite a few MORE Galactic Federation trooper corpses, she finds (what's left of) the GF cruiser that said troopers arrived on planet Aether in, before they were all completely wiped out by the local Dark Splinters (thank god SAMUS never has to worry about running out of ammo...oh, wait...)

One admirable but still poorly executed attempt at making the player feel bad for the Galactic Federation troopers later, Samus trudges through several more corpses and environmental puzzles until she finally reaches the temple itself, where, after finally defeating the local Splinter queen (sigh), she takes yet ANOTHER elevator up to the top floor and meets the very last remaining member of the ancient Chozo, I mean Luminoth race (yes, you will also find THEIR corpses strewn about all over the place), who gives her an obnoxiously long exposition spiel about how in order to restore the planet to its former dimensional tranquility (blah, blah, blah), she needs to collect a bunch of keys in the Dark World in order to unlock its twisted counterparts to the Light World's temples, so that she can then steal the energy from said temples, return BACK to the Light World and then finally tediously trudge all the way BACK to the Light Temple so that she can transfer the Dark Temples' energy into the Light Temples.

(Yeah, it's an EXCRUCIATINGLY tedious process; even the most diehard of Metroid fans can agree on this.)

In short, Samus' adventure takes her through a whole cavalcade of exceedingly generic "abandoned wasteland" environment archetypes (and one REALLY fracking cool area where literally EVERYTHING is made out of computers, which even then is still incredibly creepy in its own right) where she bumps shoulders with Dark Samus several times and discovers that the local encampment of Space Pirates in the game's desert area have been using Phazon to fuel her superpowers.

Yes, this still ends up culminating in an amazingly epic final battle (that I'd rather not spoil, even though it's ridiculously similar to that of the first game), but once again, the REAL meat of the story is in the countless Luminoth lore logs (and Pirate logs, and GF Trooper logs) that Samus is able to scan into her Logbook with the Scan Visor, so be sure not to miss any of those.

GRAPHICS: I really don't know how to feel here, honestly. While Metroid Prime 2 might TECHNICALLY look quite a bit (EVEN) better than its predecessor, the aesthetics have been rather noticeably downgraded (if not outright butchered altogether) by comparison.

That being said, however, Samus' suit design is still pretty decent (heck, if I wasn't comparing it to that of the first game, I would probably say it was great) and becomes absolutely AMAZING once she acquires the Light Suit, the textures and animations are top-notch as always, the special effects are once again phenomenally well-done, and the environmental design (although thematically a bit uninspired to say the least) is easily (almost) just as good as it was in the first game.

SOUND: When it wants to be, this game's soundtrack is EASILY just as good as those of Prime 1 and Super (Torvus Bog theme, the Upper/Lower Brinstar remixes, Item Room Ambience, Sanctuary Fortress 1, the boss themes, etc); however, when it DOESN'T feel like being amazing, the soundtrack has a tendency to be exceedingly dull and forgettable, albeit still remarkably atmospheric (Agon Wastes, Temple Grounds, most of the Dark World music excluding boss themes, etc). Yeah, it really just depends on which songs you're listening to in this case.

GAMEPLAY: Easily the most controversial thing about this game, let me just say right now that overall, I actually really, REALLY enjoyed the gameplay of Metroid Prime 2...but yeah, it's got a LOT of issues.

While the core gameplay is still just as polished as it was in the first game and is in many ways a massive improvement in terms of level-design intricacy, there are just a LOT of underlying things about this game that might have sounded like a good idea on paper but are just ungodly frustrating in practice. (Please note, however, that there is a MAJOR difference between a frustrating game and an actually difficult one.)

For the most part, none of these issues are initially present in the game's Light World (well, besides the game being an EXTREMELY blatant rehash of the first, that is), but once you get your first taste of how lazily designed the Dark World is in Agon Wastes, that's when they REALLY start to rear their ugly Ing-possessed heads out of the woodwork and reveal themselves.

Basically, when you first enter the Dark World (read: when you only have the Varia Suit, this game's equivalent to the Power Suit, to protect you), you are forced to CONSTANTLY stay in the safe zones at all times, as the extremely poisonous local atmosphere outside of said safe zones will sap your health to zero in absolutely no time flat.

Thankfully, once you get the also incredibly cool-looking new Dark Suit from the very clearly Zelda-inspired boss of the Dark Agon Wastes, which effectively slows the Dark World's health-draining rate to a crawl, this more or less stops being a problem...however, the next major issue also comes into play not terribly far INTO the exact same area when Samus acquires the Ice and Plasma Beams...oh, sorry, I meant to say the Dark and Light Beams.

In addition to being blatant recolors of previous beams from the first game, as well as being conceptually some of the lamest and least interesting weapons in the entire series, these beams also require ammunition in order to use properly. Yes, you heard me right, BEAM AMMO. (And no, the fact that these two beams can still technically be fired when depleted via the Charge Beam functionality doesn't fully excuse this either, although I do rather like the new mechanic of killing/destroying things with one beam type in order to get ammo for the other.)

And that's not even mentioning how infuriatingly stingy the game can often be with save points either (or how insufferably irritating those godforsaken Boost Guardian, Power Bomb Guardian and Spider Guardian bosses are, for that matter).

Worst of all, while the Chozo Ghosts from the first Prime were thankfully mostly restricted to only appearing in ONE specific area (Chozo Ruins, obviously), MP2 reskins him into the amazingly even MORE obnoxious Pirate Commandos, who now appear in literally EVERY area and literally will not allow you to leave the rooms that they appear in until they're gone (just to add insult to injury). Granted, all it takes to defeat them is one good charge shot from the Dark Beam and a well-placed Missile, but dear GOD was I getting tired of seeing them towards the endgame.

Also, probably as yet another result of the game being horribly rushed in development, the Dark World is just plain boringly designed compared to the Light World, and is also (albeit obviously for puzzle purposes) HORRIBLY disjointed, not really allowing you to freely explore it even when you finally DO acquire the Light Suit. And when you do, believe me, you'd better be ready for a Sky-Temple-Key-collecting easter egg hunt so mind-numbingly tedious that it actually makes the first Prime's artifact hunt look like the most fun part of THAT game by comparison...

All of that being said, however, this game really isn't that hard at all, even with the Gamecube controls; it's mostly just incredibly difficult COMPARED TO other Metroid games that aren't the first two, sort of like how Breath Of The Wild is incredibly difficult COMPARED TO other Zelda games that aren't the first two.

OVERALL: Metroid Prime 2, while obviously massively less innovative/inspired and INFINITELY more frustrating/patience-testing than the first one, is still overall just as good of a game objectively (and, when it wants to be, just as much fun) as its predecessor, with vastly more fleshed-out puzzle mechanics at that. Just make sure that you're a BIG Metroid fan before playing it, because the ungodly massive amount of backtracking and length-padding packaged into it will probably end up being profoundly difficult to tolerate if you're not.

Personally, as one of the Metroid franchise's biggest fans, 9.6/10