The best available GC game
Retro have made a stylish job of updating this Nintendo classic to 3D. The map system - a scalable, rotatable wireframe model showing doors, save points etc. - is one of the best to grace any game on any platform, and is an invaluable tool for exploration of the massive but lonely world of Tallon. The gadgets and weapons are great, too - from Samus' ability to turn into a Sonic The Hedgehog-style 'Morph Ball' to the awesome visor system (enabling the player to see in x-ray or infra-red, for example). These features would, of course, be simple eye-candy without great design which Metroid Prime, fortunately, has in abundance. The designers have incorporated a huge number of mini-puzzles which must be solved in conjunction with the gear at Samus' disposal, and serve to make MP so much more than just another run-of-the mill FPS or platformer. For the completists out there, Samus' scanner can be used to check the facts and figures on every enemy and countless environmental features, at once providing further gameworld immersion and hints on solving puzzles or killing bosses. The amount of detail is staggering, as are the the graphics and sound (it is really worth playing with a Pro-Logic II system).
The controls, whilst becoming second nature after several hours of play, are not particularly intuitive and may cause frustration in those players without a strong handle on the GameCube's controller. Be warned: Metroid Prime is quite difficult in places, although it is certainly worth persevering. Players expecting a classic FPS will also be out of luck - this game rewards those who seek to take in every inch of Tallon at their leisure, drinking in the lore of the planet's lost civilisation whilst obliterating its fantastic array of inhabitants. It's a shame, though, that Retro chose to stick with the cliched Fire Level Ice Level Forest Level design pattern, however well each has been executed.
The Bottom Line
Progress hinges on exploration and the aquisition of new gadgets and abilities (an early pair of 'double jump' boots, for example, enables Samus to reach otherwise inaccessible ledges) and it is this mechanic which players will either love or hate, as an amount of backtracking and seemingly aimless wandering is inevitable. Most gamers seem to love it, and it is definitely worth giving it a try.