Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

Samus' second adventure will take her into the dark depths of planet Aether.


The Lowdown

Pros: More of what you loved with Metroid Prime now with multiplayer action.

Cons: Isn't groundbreaking like the first title.

Purchase at Play-Asia

Purchase at Lik-Sang

When Nintendo announced a first person perspective Metroid game, the reaction was a mixed bag. They hired a newcomer, Retro Studios, to take on the hefty task of translating the Metroid world from a 2D platformer to a 3D shooter. Retro Studios didn't just stand up to the task, but they ended up making one of the most brilliant games for the Gamecube. They took the exploring elements of the Metroid series, large boss battles and successfully blended them together with first person action. Instead of getting a derivative shooter, gamers got a taste of a true first person adventure game. Now that Retro Studios has made a hit, what more can they do with next Metroid game?

There is the classic saying "if it ain't broke don't fix it" and that is what Retro Studios did. Instead of reinventing the wheel they made tweaks to their formula and added in some new abilities. The net result is that Metroid Prime 2: Echoes isn't a revolutionary title, but instead a game that expands on the core gameplay of the Prime series. The setting takes place sometime after Metroid Prime. Samus is flying her ship to investigate a help call by a group of federation troopers. While flying to Aether her ship is hit by an electromagnetic storm and she is forced to land on the planet. When she exits the ship she finds a bunch of dead federation troopers. After this scene the player is in control and it isn't long until you encounter the mysterious Ing. These shadowy creatures appear out of nowhere and steal parts of Samus' suit leaving her without many of the abilities she came with.

The Ing are in an interesting enemy. These shadowy creatures are known to sneak up behind you and sometimes pop out of nowhere. There are cleverly placed segments where the Ing appear and cause unprecedented trouble for Samus. They also have the ability to change the existing monsters on the planet. A basic space pirate all of the sudden becomes a powerful shooting machine after contact with the Ing. The dark atmosphere and the new villains give Retro Studios the opportunity to pull some scares, like a survival horror game would. Make no mistake, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is an adventure game, not a zombie buster.

To face new enemies Samus is going to need to get her stolen gear back. This phase of gameplay is similar to the other Metroid games, where you start out with a relatively weak Samus. This time you won't be completely out of luck. Samus will still have the Varia suit equipped, the charge beam and the morph ball power up from the start of the game. Really early on you'll reacquire the morph ball bombs, missiles and the jump boots. This makes Samus much more versatile early on than she was in Prime. The levels are designed to take advantage of this. At the start of the game there are plenty of morph ball areas and some morph ball cannons puzzles. There are even more areas to access once you have the jump boots. On top of all her previous equipment Samus will get access to new weapons and items. Two new weapons are the dark beam and light beam. The light beam will quickly dispatch oncoming Ing, but it won't have much affect on the creatures in the light world. The dark beam works the other way around, it gives the most damage in the light part of Aether. Both of these beams have a limited amount of ammo, so you'll need to use them carefully. In conjunction with the missiles Samus can pull combo attacks like the Dark Burst, which is a huge ball of dark energy.

Visors were one of the coolest part of the first Metroid Prime. These devices changed what Samus saw, which means you would things different on the screen. Some visors, like the scan visor are still important to the game. In Metroid Prime 2 almost every object is scannable. By scanning objects you'll start machines, solve puzzles, find enemy weaknesses and even fill in pieces of the story. Samus also has two all new visors to use. The Dark Visor gives Samus the same effect as heat vision. She'll be able to scan the area and see where enemies are lurking. The Echoes visor is an interesting addition. Instead of detecting anything visible, the echoes visor detects sound. You won't be able to see much on screen when wearing it, but you'll gain the ability of a sonar every couple of seconds. This visor is essential to solving in game puzzles.

Even with all of the new additions Metroid Prime 2 is still Metroid Prime. It's a first perspective game that sometimes acts like a first person shooter. You will be shooting stuff with your arm cannon, but there is more to the game that just lock on and blast. There are plenty puzzles to be solved to progress through the game. Metroid Prime 2 still has a lot of jumping from its platfomer roots, maybe a little too much. The large areas in the game give Retro Studios plenty of room to hide energy tanks and missile expansion units. These extra items will keep players busy long after they beat the game, so they can collect 100% of the items.

Even when you're done with the entire game and gotten the best ending, there is always the multiplayer mode. Metroid Prime 2 has two different multiplayer options, the first is your standard deathmatch. In this classic battle royale four gamers can battle against each other. Every "Samus" starts with the standard power beam, morph ball and Varia suit. You can collect weapons like the dark beam, light beam and annihilator within the level. There is even the special death ball item, which will allow you to kill an enemy by touching them with the death ball. The other mode is called bounty mode. Instead of racking up kills, you'll rack up coins that other players drop when they're shot. The multiplayer mode is a nice addition to the game, but it's not as well tweaked as other four player shooting games. There are only a handful of levels to select from and the lock on firing makes killing another player really easy. Still, having some multiplayer mode is better than none.

Metroid Prime 2 is a great looking game. The light world is a rich world full of plant life and bright environments. While the dark world is a mirror image of the light world, Retro Studios has done a good job making it eerie. The environments have plenty of detail, too. In one area you can glance down off the peak of a giant cliff to see a vast field of mountains and there are winged creatures flying around. The team of artists that designed this game made Aether look like a true alien world. The rich textures and plenty of detail like sand waterfalls make the world of Metroid come alive. The in game music is similar to the score in the original Prime. It has a lot of atmospheric effects, but it changes at tense moments. Atmospheric sounds when exploring and tense electronic guitar when caught in battle. On the other hand the sound effects in the game have been reused from the first and the addition of voice acting is another potential improvement.

As an entire package Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is one of the most outstanding Gamecube games out there. It's an action packed hit for the people who liked the first game. If you weren't into Metroid Prime, you should still give this game a chance. It's not as slow paced as the first game. You start the beginning of the game with a lot of abilities and there are lots of enemies to shoot. There are even more areas to explore and the new multiplayer mode seals the package. Overall, this is a game that every Gamecube owner should pick up.

Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 0

We have the US version, since it came out in the US first. How language heavy the Japanese version is yet to be determined.

US Bound?

It's been out since November 2004.

Overall

Metroid Prime 2 offers a larger and more challenging adventure than the first title. Even though most of the gameplay additions are tweaks off the original game Metroid Prime 2 is still an amazing title.