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Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Retro Studios
ESRB Rating: T for Violence, Animated Blood
For: Nintendo GameCube

Bounty hunter Samus Aran has faced horrors no human should see. She has battled with the nefarious Mother Brain in the NES game Metroid, and eliminated the Space Pirate threat, time and again, that would use the parasitic Metroids for battle and worse. She has defeated a massive rock monster called Thardus, a radiation infused hulk with the ability to summon snow storms, and has destroyed the massive, armored Metroid Prime, the final evolution of one of the most frightening video game organisms ever created. She has destroyed Space Pirate creations Ridley and Kraid across multiple games, and vanquished the X parasite in Metroid Fusion. Now, she must battle on two planets, and face her greatest, and most adaptive, foe yet: the Ing. In addition to these weird, parasitic creatures, Samus will also have to contend with a dark duplicate of herself that is notably stronger, making for heated, difficult fights that vary in strategy and style.

-Secular Review

Graphics:

Art direction and animation are everything in MP2. The world of Aether is fully realized, and in fact seems massively bigger than that of its predecessor, Tallon IV, where Metroid Prime takes place. Each alien race looks dissimilar from the one before it, and most have inventive weaknesses. Hidden rooms are strewn through each environment, and indeed, each environment feels like it is part of something much bigger. Boss battles are most times incredible affairs, with excellent design and animation, save for one example that I can think of. And Samus herself is exceedingly well animated, especially given the few scenes that you see her from outside her visor. Perhaps the most outstanding area of MP2?s graphics is the scope and depth of each environment. Each room seems to be part of a larger whole, something not seen from where you can reach, and almost all of the rooms have secrets hidden in them, from alcoves currently inaccessible to crumbling walls that lead to a well-hidden energy tank. Rooms tower, with gigantic statues and rain falling through the openings, while narrow corridors and alien-infested rooms feel notably claustrophobic. This is a game that has the atmosphere to rival Resident Evil 4. Graphics Score: 10/10

Game play:

MP2 is, as always, a well made, perfected game that takes the idea of shooter to new heights. It is intelligent, always gorgeous, and feels great. The controls really don?t take that much getting used to; if you?ve played one of the N64 Zeldas, you?ll feel right at home here. Samus is in a constant search for her next suit upgrade, and this drives the game play. With each major boss (of which there are four) of the dark world, Samus takes energy from its temple, and has to transplant it to the temple?s light counterpart in an effort to give the power to Light Aether. And with these major encounters, Samus also gains an important ability, such as the Dark Visor from the bug boss Chykka, or the Dark Suit from a massive worm. Each ability enables Samus to traverse the world much easier, and in that way, allows the player to reach the next level of equipment. This basic idea drives all the game play, and keeps the player going from one location to the next. It is a formula that many games have taken; still, Metroid does it best. That isn?t me being a thinly veiled fanboy reviewer, but I do consider Metroid to be one of the greatest franchises around. Of course, MP2 does take a lot from other games, like the open-ended nature of the PC title Far Cry, or the basic multiplay elements of GoldenEye 007, but it doesn?t really perfect any of these things. Yes, Metroid is about exploration, but it is also very linear. You can do things in any order, how you want to?if you can get to the item in question first. For example, it is entirely possible to get the Gravity Boost, an upgrade that allows the wearer to move freely in water, but you will have a difficult time of it without the Super Missile upgrade and the Space Jump upgrade. Simple things like that add to Metroid?s depth, and allows for replayability that?s not common in many single player games. That, and a multitude of secrets. Let me elaborate a little on that. When you reach 50% scans, you will unlock a concept art gallery. Again at 65%. Once again at 80%. The list goes on. In addition to non-required junk like that (which geeks like me find really interesting) you?ll get three endings depending on how well you complete, as well as many other things, such as missile expansions, ammo expansions, energy tanks, and beam expansions. While single-player is a rewarding, fully fleshed out experience, multiplayer is exactly the opposite. With only four maps, two available from the start, MP2?s multiplayer element seems more of an afterthought than anything else, but it succeeds in providing a fun (if exceedingly simplistic) multiplay that will keep most players occupied for a while. It doesn?t hold a candle to Halo 2, Project: Snowblind, or the Timesplitters games, but what?s there is worth trying. Game play Score: 18/20 (-2 pts. for lackluster multiplayer experience)

Sound:

There are virtually no voices in this game; what is there is well done, and it seems like Nintendo may be moving more towards having its characters actually speak. What a change. Electronica fills the air when you play the game. It is this music that serves as a backdrop for most of the game, and it is quite well done, with only a few segments getting annoying. It seems to be on a loop, but that never really factors in, since most of the music seems to constantly be changing. The sound effects, likewise, are not annoying in any respect. They are well-produced, and allow for maximum effect. Monsters call out their unique sounds, and blaster shots sound like you would expect from a sci-fi movie. That said, the sound is engrossing and not hard to enjoy. Sound Score: 10/10

Stability:

There are no glitches that I encountered while playing the game, and no ways to exploit the game itself. This is a game that will not render your system unplayable, so? that?s a plus. Stability Score: 5/5

Controls/Interface:
Using the L-targeting scheme, which is very similar to the Z-targeting made famous by the N64 Zelda games, MP2 is very easy to get into. The A button fires, and the B button jumps. Other functions are added later in the game, and every button does something eventually. The controls are well done and intuitive. It is not at all hard to pick up the game and learn the controls within the first ten minutes of play time, something that many other games cannot boast about. The controls can be customized to some extent, but the controls are so intuitive that there really isn?t a need to do so. The menu system is very intuitive, access to the single-player game is two button taps away. Some of the in-game menus are slightly hard to grasp, but when you finally understand the menus, it all makes perfect sense. Controls/Interface Score: 4/5 (-1 for some slightly unintuitive menus)

-Christian Review

Violence:

There are some reasons not to play this game if you are turned off by violence. It is, for the most part, full of sci-fi violence. Enemies consist of rogue robots, sentient alien beings, and bugs that have been possessed by the parasitic organisms called the Ing. Other enemies include the Space Pirates, which are typical enemies for a Metroid game, and the Metroids themselves, which are parasitic energy suckers. At times, the violence can get quite intense, but it?s nothing compared to recent Zelda outings. There are segments of the game where humans are strewn about environments, dead, and descriptions of why they died are displayed onscreen when they are scanned. In ne sequence, there is a cinematic that shows a human ship, with space marines standing around, getting attacked by the Ing?that is, perhaps, the most violent part of the game. Luminoth, which are the aliens that you are trying to help out, also pop up dead, and there are descriptions of their deaths and causes for death as well. Boss enemies can also be very violent. One enemy is called the Chykka, and it morphs from a larvae (which you also must battle) to an adult, to an Ing-possessed form, or a Dark Chykka. Attacks can knock you back, and do quite a bit of damage. Honestly, there is not very much realistic blood in this game. Once again, the only part with much blood is where the marines get attacked by the Ing, and that?s only a few drops that don?t look very real. However, some creatures (especially bugs) explode into mist and bug juice, which could be considered blood. Gore is non-existent, since bodies disappear soon after being killed. Total Violence Score: 3/10 (-2.5 for killing realistic, non-human creatures; -3.5 for killing non-human, fictional beings; -1 for small blotches or drops of blood)

Language:

There is not much spoken dialogue in the game, but what is there isn?t sexual and doesn?t have any foul language in it. Total Language Score: 10/10

Sexual Content/Nudity:

This doesn?t really apply to the game, given that there are not many characters. Those that are present wear non-revealing clothing. There is also no nudity in this game, which is a definite plus. Total Sexual Content/Nudity Score: 10/10

Occult/Supernatural Elements:

Much like the Zelda games, there are many temples that serve as locations in the game. However, none of these temples contain supernatural or occultic references. They serve as places that hold the energy field of the planet, and as such are used for a positive purpose. Enemies do not use magic, and there are no occultic references in the game. Also, the player does not use magic of any sort. Total Occult/Supernatural Elements Score: 10/10

Cultural/Moral/Ethical:

MP2 does not have any disrespect for authority. If anything, it supports authority by going against an evil and trying to reestablish the good guys (a.k.a. the Luminoth) as the authority on the planet. There is also no prejudicial bias in the game. The Ing are a fictional race that serve only to be warriors. They have no culture, and they have a hive mentality, much like bugs. They seem to only attack, and attack Samus on sight. In terms of crude or gross humor, MP2 features none of it. It wouldn?t be a Metroid game with that stuff. Ethical values are promoted throughout the game. The entire game is spent in an effort to improve your suit so that you can defeat the Ing, and save the Luminoth There are no problems in this category. Total Cultural/Moral/Ethical Score: 10/10

Secular Review: Graphics: 10/10 Game Play: 18/20 Sound: 10/10 Stability: 5/5 Control/Interface: 4/5 Total: 47/50
Christian Review: Violence: 3/10 Language: 10/10 Sexual Content/Nudity: 10/10 Occult/Supernatural Elements: 10/10 Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 10/10 Total: 43/50

Final Score: 90/100

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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