Metroid Prime 2: Echoes - GameCube

Also known as: Metroid Prime 2: Dark Echoes

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Viewed: 3D First-person / Third-person Genre:
Shoot 'Em Up
Arcade origin:No
Developer: Retro Studios Soft. Co.: Nintendo
Publishers: Nintendo (GB)
Released: 26 Nov 2004 (GB)
Ratings: PEGI 12+
Accessories: Memory Card


Before the critically acclaimed Metroid Prime, intergalactic super-heroine Samus Aran was a character relatively unknown to the gaming masses. Super Metroid was a remarkable game, but it was sadly overlooked, laying the series to rest for almost a decade.

Metroid Prime, however, gave the series a new lease of life as a first-person shooter that, despite a series of delays and set backs, was a resounding success. So much so in fact, that developer Retro got straight to work on a second GameCube release. It's been a long and arduous wait for many, but Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is finally finished and it's looking better than ever.

The premise of Echoes, though hardly integral to the game as a whole, will be all too familiar to some, as Samus is called to answer yet another distress call on yet another dark and foreboding planet where she soon finds herself in the grip of a long-lasting conflict between good and evil.

Run of the mill it is, but chances are you'll have forgotten the Echoes story within a few hours of play - the reason being that gameplay, as with the rest of the series, takes precedence over all.

After being stripped of your super-hero abilities once again, you'll quickly learn that Echoes plays host to three well-known playing styles.

First off is the player's need to explore. As it happens the seemingly natural game environment is fundamentally a series of locked doors in a maze-like world. You'll have to find items to get places, and with every newfound ability comes to opportunity to backtrack in search valuables you might have been unable to retrieve earlier on. That's the basic formula for all games in the Metroid series, and it's just as important in Echoes.

Secondly, there's Samus' trademark 'morph ball' ability. Here, players can temporarily abandon the first-person view point in favour of a more traditional playing style that sees our protagonist using her familiar compact form to roll across rails, negotiate narrow passageways, boost up half pipes and even fire herself from cannons. It's nothing really new to long-time fans of the Nintendo franchise, but it's just as original and fun as it was all those years ago.

Finally there's the element of combat, the greatest change to the series since Super Metroid, and it's here that the FPS side of Echoes begins to shine. Armed with missiles, power bombs and a selection of beam weapons, players will frequently find themselves doing battle with any number hostile creatures. Your foes aren't particularly smart, but they can deal a lot of damage and take just as much. Provided you make the effort to dodge enemy fire whenever you can, you'll most likely do just fine.

Then there's the multi-player game, a first for the series made possible by its relatively new FPS approach and that accommodates split-screen gaming for up to four players. Deathmatch and Bounty Modes are on offer here, both of which employ different strategies and that can be tailored for the individual game. Deathmatch speaks for itself, with players able to set frag targets and time limits. Bounty mode, however, is a little different, with players competing for money instead of lives. Here, players must acquire as much cash as possible by dealing damage to their opponents in order to steal it from them.

There's no denying the effort that Retro Studios put into Echoes. Metroid Prime 2 is a fine successor to the 2003 classic, bringing with it bigger worlds, improved visuals, new abilities and a satisfying multi-player game that takes the series to a new level.