Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

Until recently, the only Metroid game I had played to any non-negligible degree was the original Metroid, which while a decent enough game, wasn’t particularly one of my favorites. After a while all the corridors start to look the same, and when you couple that with no built-in mapping function, it’s pretty easy to get completely lost. The need to randomly bomb everywhere in the dead ends to look for crucial secret passages that have no visual cues whatsoever didn’t help a lot either. While I could certainly appreciate the significance of the game, I never became much of a fan of it.

My history with first-person shooters is even less illustrious. The last one of those I ever played to any significant degree was, I believe, the shareware version of Rise of the Triad, back in the days when not only was Pluto a planet, but it was the eighth planet as far as distance from the sun goes. Of course, I’ve played Halo deathmatches, but considering my paucity of FPS skills, would usually get schooled in short order.

Furthermore, heretofore, I hate coming in to the middle of something, be it watching the sequel to a movie I haven’t seen, or starting to watch a TV show midseason, or even missing the first few minutes of a movie.

So, considering that Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is a first-person shooter Metroid game which is the sequel to another first-person shooter Metroid game, I didn’t have particularly high expectations going in. Nevertheless, it didn’t take long before I got addicted.

Being a Metroid game, Echoes emphasizes exploration rather than running around shooting things. The game will mercilessly tease you with doors and items lying just out of reach, starting with the very first room, that are inaccessible until you get the right power-up. (And if you’re like me, you’ll be cursing all those yellow doors and Denzium-saturated rocks long before you finally get the Power Bombs necessary to blast them apart.) Of course, this makes each upgrade exciting, because now all sorts of areas suddenly open up to explore to find still more upgrades and missile expansions and energy tanks and whatnot.

In that respect, it’s a lot like the original Metroid, but this time around you have a map, all the rooms are visually distinctive, and your Scan Visor will highlight anything of interest in your field of view. In other words, it’s Metroid without the annoyances of the original.

As far as the plot goes, you start off by crash-landing on the planet Aether, on a mission to find out what happened to a ship full of space marines who were chasing a ship full of space pirates. It doesn’t take long to find out they’re all dead, but you’re soon recruited by the last surviving not-cryo-frozen Luminoth to save his species and the planet itself (literally) from being destroyed by the Ing, who live in a Dark World-ish parallel universe.

You’re probably supposed to assume Samus takes on the job because that’s what the good guy girl’s supposed to do, but since she never actually says anything in the game, I’ve decided the real reason is that she needs to get her good equipment back from the Ing who mugged her (how exactly do you mug a walking tank?) early in the game, and besides, her ship’s busted and its auto-repair just so happens to require exactly the same amount of time as it will take to save the world.

Now I know what you’re saying: “This game is called Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, yet you haven’t mentioned any Metroid Prime or any Echoes! What’s the deal?” Have no fear. One of the recurring enemies you face is Dark Samus, the eponymous villain from the original Metroid Prime mutated into a doppelgänger of Samus. Also, one of the upgrades you get in the game is the Echo Visor, which uses echolocation to display the room and lets you visualize any sonic emitters that might be around. Happy now?

Anyway, from what I’ve gathered of Luminoth war strategy, it’s no wonder they got so resoundingly beaten by the Ing:

  • They spent too little time developing effective weapons and way too much time developing locks for their doors. Missile doors, Super Missile doors, Power Bomb doors, Seeker Missile doors, Seeker Missile doors with the targets hidden in interdimensional space, Light Beam doors, Dark Beam doors, Annihilator Beam doors, doors with sonic locking systems…. How exactly are you going to move troops from one area to another when the enemy can slip between dimensions at will but you need an entire arsenal for a keychain?
  • They then hid all their good equipment. By all means, establish armories and lock the door, but stashing each individual item separately and hiding them behind elaborate obstacle courses is a bit much. I mean, you need to spend hours scouring half of the planet’s surface just to properly equip a small platoon.
  • Yes, yes, I know, your three Energy Controllers on the surface of the planet fell to the Ing and were drained of all their energy. But don’t you think that after someone goes out of their way to go to a parallel universe, fight off hordes of nasty monsters, and use their very suit as a giant battery to bring that energy back, maybe you should put a guard in front of the Energy Controller so they don’t come back and swipe it again? I mean, they got to it when you were throwing everything you had into the defense; I don’t think a few wasps that nested in the room next door are going to cut it as a security system. The Luminoth were lucky the Ing never bothered to reverse engineer the Energy Transfer Module before Samus stole it back from them.
  • OK, so you’ve been beaten back to your Great Temple floating in the sky with your Master Energy Controller and its last bit of energy being the only thing keeping your planet from being destroyed. How exactly is it a good idea to cryo-freeze all but one of the survivors, and have him just stand next to the Controller twiddling his thumbs? Did you not notice the Ing with the Energy Transfer Module in the room below you? What kind of strategy is this? I mean, say what you want about U.S. operations in Iraq, but at least we’re not planning to relocate all our troops to the middle of the Green Zone and have them nap until someone crash-lands her spaceship in the middle of Al Anbar province and decides to wipe out the insurgency and al-Qaeda while waiting for the galactic equivalent of AAA to tow her ship to a repair shop. … OK, I guess it did end up working for the Luminoth, but still.

So, in conclusion, 95% scans and 88% items in 28 hours 41 minutes, without a strategy guide. Longer if you count the times I died repeatedly trying to fight some of the bosses.