An epic adventure that helped me understand the genre
Metroid Prime sure is a Metroid game, just a different kind of one. It definitely helped me to understand the series as a whole. I'd definitely recommend this game as everyone's first Metroid game to try - it isn't as hard as the previous games and is interesting all the way.
The controls are great. Even if, in FPSes, I can't really hit anything without a mouse and keyboard, the controls were never a problem for me. The controls emphasize *strategy* rather than reflexes - the point is to know *how* to blast the creatures away, to *try* to hit things.
The graphics are some of the best I've ever seen. *Everything* looks great. Lots of attention to details. I especially liked the various weather effects and visor effects (the face reflection spooked the heck out of me the first time I saw it).
The music is also pretty good. I didn't like it at first, but after you get to the planet and do some major moves, the music in general changes to something *indescribably* great.
There's some great pacing. As I say below, only the bosses were demotivating, every other challenge in the game seems just *right*.
I also found the game pretty good plot/narration-wise - the approach of collecting scraps of information on what really happened is a good idea.
There was just one thing that I really didn't like about: The boss fights were, shall we say, demotivating. They weren't *impossible*, but they were just, at first, humiliatingly difficult. And by "humiliating", I mean "embarrassing enough not to make me touch the thing for weeks". Of course, once I *did* beat, say, Flaahgra and Thardus, and even the last boss without getting completely clobbered in the first phase... well, let's just say that the joy of victory was even higher then.
A smaller point I didn't like was that 100% scan completion requires some *extremely* sharp wits - If you miss some enemies at certain point of game, you can say goodbye to the 100% scan rate. Okay, it isn't really relevant, since it only gives you certain off-game bonuses, but still...
And this is probably the first game *ever* where I've had moral or ethical problems (as in "I can't kill that, it's too cute!")...
The Bottom Line
I don't really like first-person shooters, but I do love it when people grab their first-person shooter engines and do something completely different with them. I loved mysteriously creative Quake mods. I loved Deus Ex.
So, it wasn't really unexpected that I liked Metroid Prime. The one big thing about FPSes that I dislike is that you've always got to be either running or sneaking or dying. Metroid Prime, then, is *sometimes* about running and sneaking. It isn't that often about dying, though that tends to happen too.
Metroid Prime is about *exploration*. I hate to throw cliches around, but I think the appropriate one here is "the journey is more important than the destination".
It's about gathering items. It's also about gathering information. It's about seeing great places. It's about finding out what happened. It's about getting things done. It's about, I think, being a hero.
It is an adventure. It works beautifully as an adventure.
I used to think Metroid series was too complex for me, but now, I think I have learned to understand it. And that wasn't easy at first. Now, I think, I do know what this all is about.
Of all games I've bought for GameCube, I thought this was the one I'd least likely to beat - but somehow, I did, and I'm definitely one great experience richer now that I have beaten it. And excuse me, now, I'll get back playing Metroid Prime 2...