Metroid Prime 2: Echoes GameCube Review

Have you ever seen the TV series called Monk, you know that program with Tony Shaloub playing the character Adrian Monk who is suffering an extreme form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? You see, to Adrian Monk a room is a puzzle and a puzzle that must be solved as soon as possible, every item in the room is a blip on his “radar” and every item must be looked at and examined in intensive detail, all the information must taken in so once we reach the end of a episode everything will make sense. Adrian Monk does all this examination immediately upon entering a room; it comes as second nature to him.

2 Hours ago I was Adrian Monk; you should have heard me “Must Scan Everything!!! Now!” I was running around like a maniac looking for something to scan that probably wasn’t even there but I would be damned if I was going to finish this game with a 99% completion rate. Retro have crafted MP2 with precision perfect pacing; it is not a game you will rush through I can guarantee you that, but I can also guarantee it will bring out the worst in you.

Damn! Now I just noticed I got 125 keys on my keyboard, 4 dead pixels on my monitor and a spider that for some reason has 7 legs running up my wall! I must record that in my log book! Wait, who took my logbook!!!

Graphics

Phenomenal, breathtaking, out of this world! You would run out of superlatives trying to describe the graphical marvel that is Metroid Prime 2. Not only is Echoes a graphical tour de force on GameCube, it is a masterpiece of graphical delights on a multi format level. There is no doubt Retro Studios has pushed the GameCube hardware to its absolute limits with sharp, flamboyantly comprehensive detailed environments without a hint of slowdown. Retro Studios has once again created a magnificent brand sparkling new fresh world for gamers to explore. We all know game worlds are made of millions and millions of polygons but with the work Retro have put in your eyes begin to deceive you, those polygons turn into living organic worlds with each surface having its own distinct characteristic and its own fresh feel.

With every step you take through the world you will find something new, something more awe-inspiring than you have seen before. Some people say graphics don’t make a game and while they may be right, they certainly can help to immerse you in a world and Echoes is certainly one game that draws you in and it doesn’t let go!! There is now a significant increase in the amount of enemies and objects that can be on-screen at once, the animation of the enemies is now improved as well, making some other games seem robot like in comparison.

Gameplay

Echoes is classic Metroid in every way. Most of you should know the story by now – Samus’s gear gets robbed early in the game, you must hunt it down, you must get stronger, wash, rinse and repeat! But gladly MP2 does not rely on just the classic style, it adds so much more to the formula, even more than its 3D predecessor of 2002.

The opening scene sees you once again stepping into that tight fitting suit that covers the intergalactic heroine Samus Aran as she investigates a mysterious distress signal. Samus then finds her way to a mysterious planet called Aether. The inhabitants of Aether, the Luminoth, have had their planet split into two dimensions. The major change in Echoes from the Metroid titles that went before is the necessity to traverse these separate dimensions of the same planet to unlock different new areas, find new weapons and unlock abilities.

Many of Samus’ main abilities return, like the power beam, missiles, double jump and morph ball. Due to these returning abilities fans will be right at home the moment they drop the game in the disk tray; even the brand new abilities for a 3D version of Metroid, such as the Screw Attack, are easy enough to use after a few goes. Retro have done a lot to make the game feel “in-depth” but easy for beginners to play. While combat is still high on the agenda of things, Metroid is all about exploration. The game is littered with thoughtful puzzles, some of which may get your grey matter working more than you’d like, but I believe none of them are unfair.

With the addition of the light and dark worlds new weapons are brought into the fray. They are affectionately called the light beam and, you guessed it, the dark beam. These weapons actually have limited ammunition, which I believe is a first for the Metroid series. You can gain dark beam by fighting enemies with the light beam and vice versa. Other new equipment is the dark visor, the rapid-fire, powerful annihilator beam which does exactly what it says on the tin and the Echoes visor which acts like a sonar type device.

Echoes provides something new to experience around every corner and it is a bigger step up from Metroid Prime than most seem to give it credit for. Although it feels slightly familiar in places there is never feeling of been here, done that. The game has always got something new and exciting to offer. Whether it is a new exhilarating boss battle, a new weapon, or even just entering a new skilfully designed area when playing Echoes it always feels like you playing something special and that is always a sign of a top quality game!

Sound

Whoosh, Oomph, Bang, Crash! Unlike one of those retro episodes of Batman, all sounds in MP2 bear relation to the happenings on screen extremely well, all the effects are fitting to the game style and atmosphere and are implemented to enhance the gameplay remarkably. There is no doubt that the further you venture into the game the better it gets. None of these sound effects ever seem out of place everything is as you expect it to be, fitting the vibe of the game just right. Because the sounds are implemented so well it adds immensely to the game’s atmosphere. The feeling of solitude and battling against insurmountable odds is magnified so greatly with the placement off a few correct sounds and tunes in the right places. Additionally the game supports Dolby Pro Logic, so everything can be heard in rich atmospheric surround sound for those of you that have it.

Lifespan

The difficulty level of Echoes is just about spot on. It is an extremely challenging game at times but it builds the player up to the harder moments with a nigh on perfect learning curve. Due to this fantastic pacing there is thankfully little to no infuriating trial-and-error moments contained with in the 25-30 hours of gameplay.

Also once you unlock the hard mode after your first play-through you have the opportunity to undertake an even more daunting adventure that could last at least another 25 hours if not more. Then there is the new fangled, if slightly underwhelming, multiplayer mode for you and a few mates to mess around with. There is no doubt you get a lot of good quality gaming for your money from Retro’s latest effort. MP2 will remain warm, snug and cozy within your GameCube and will not come out until the harsh Christmas weather has passed by.

Overall

For a game that sports Echoes as a subtitle, you would be forgiven for thinking that you are about to relive Retro’s 2002 effort all over again but MP2 does little to substantiate the appropriateness of its title. An echo can be classed as a repetition or an imitation but to me MP2 is 20% an echo of its 2002 counterpart and a salient 80% advance in innovation and improvement over what came before. The fundamental core elements of the original cube title are still present, however so many impressive enhancements and clever upgrades have been integrated to propel a once great title closer to those remote, unreachable arms that is gaming perfection.

9.6 out of 10

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