Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

Samus Aran's nametag reads "bounty hunter," but she's more of a cleaner. The star of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption spends little time capturing outlaws or bringing them to justice. Instead, the recent Metroid games follow Aran's quest to cleanse the universe of phazon infection. Mopping up this galactic mutagen usually requires exploration of complex mazes and the extermination of countless creeps. This chapter in Samus' ongoing saga is an obsessive-compulsive's nightmare of crumbling ruins, malfunctioning machinery, and derelict space cruisers.

Each level is an intricate puzzle—like a game of Mousetrap with half the pieces missing. Samus, clad in her cybernetic Power Suit, morphs into a sphere, rolling through the exhaust vents like a stainless steel bearing. The game's high point comes in the skies over the gaseous planet Elysia, where Samus must unravel the mysteries of an ancient floating city. With architecture that looks like Bespin by way of Riven and puzzles that unspool with a rare elegance, these moments deliver a kind of satisfaction that only games can provide. Cleaning house is the most mundane of tasks, but for Samus, such chores involve cobbling together a nuke from centuries-old technology, then riding it to its target like Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove. Such pleasures aren't free, though. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption skews toward seasoned gamers. Difficult bosses and obtuse puzzles stand between players and a neatly ordered universe.

Beyond the game: Many players of the 1987 original for the NES were bowled over by the ultimate revelation that Samus was female. Since then, it's been a tradition for the heroine to remove her helmet at the end of every game.

Worth playing for: The controls are superb, proof that the Wii remote and nunchuk are more than viable for first-person action. Motions that call for Samus to throw a whip or turn an airlock hatch add visceral kick and never seem to get old.

Frustration sets in when: An 11th-hour quest forces players to retrace their steps and scour the game for mislaid batteries. This show-stopping busywork nearly kills the game's momentum.

Final judgment: The casual console scores a quintessential hardcore game.

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