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Hands-on: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

We go hands on with Retro's Wii-powered FPS and make a puddle in amazement

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After some more corridor palaver, featuring a frenzied shoot-out with some gorgeously nasty space pirates (easily dispatched with a couple of missile volleys, launched by pressing down on the d-pad), we encountered clever bit number two - Samus' grapple beam's back, but it's not quite like you've seen it before. Grapple-able objects are indicated in your HUD and once you've locked on using the pointer, it's simply a matter of flicking your nunchuck hand forward in a whip-like motion. Once the grapple beam latches onto your target, pulling back on the analogue stick wrenches it out of place. In this instance, we managed to shift some debris and clear the way for Samus to adopt her trademark morph ball ability and squeeze on through.

Movement in morph ball is handled entirely by the analogue stick while the main remote button drops bombs, powering you into the air in time-honoured fashion. There wasn't too much morph balling action in the demo, but we did spend a few moments attempting to cross a radioactive walkway before realising the correct route through involved morph balling up onto an overhanging ledge then timing our rolls correctly to avoid the shifting machinery intent on sending us back to square one.

Winding up our morph ball adventures, there was another chance to put the game's ultra-precise targeting to the test as a torrent of shielded metroids attacked - this time around, it wasn't quite so simple as point-and-blasting though. Each enemy carried a shield, meaning damage could only be dished during the split-seconds when the shields went red. From what we can tell, the game employs a fair bit of this to add a degree of strategy to the proceedings - it's a way of ensuring that extra precision at your disposal doesn't make dispatching your foes quite such a doddle.

With that little lot out of the picture, it was time for a frantic corridor run as the ship starts to shake, for reasons unknown. Huge chunks of debris fall from the ceiling and walls collapse around you - it's a race to grapple beam a path through the wreckage, ramping the tension right up to eleven. It's probably worth discussing the graphics at this point - visually, Corruption doesn't seem too far removed from the GameCube titles at first glance. However, spend a bit of time with the game and you'll soon start to notice the little details. The beefed up power of Wii has enabled Retro to sling all manner of objects (like the mass of constantly shifting wreckage above), incidental details and environmental effects on screen at once and the resulting atmosphere is astonishing, oppressive and frequently terrifyingly.

Finally, with the mayhem and detritus firmly behind us, it was time for one last open air battle against the space pirates. Pouring out of the hanger ahead and taking up positions around Samus, it's readily apparent that Retro's spent a lot of time honing Metroid's AI and the results are impressive indeed. Your enemies barely stand still for a second, ducking behind crates, assessing your attack and attempting to flank you at every possible turn. Unfortunately, as the air grew thick with laser fire, the increasingly irate crowds behind us got too much for our friendly PR man to bear - and so it was that we ended our first encounter with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.

First impressions from the demo indicate that Retro's bang on the money here - it's simply the most intense, atmospheric title the series has seen so far. Prime fans are going to love the final game if it's anything like the demo and, what's more, FPS nuts frustrated at the original games' half-measure controls should finally get the experience they've been clamouring for all along.

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