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  1. One element I have seen in the tellius games that I believe needs to be further addressed is the the unequal lifespans between Beorc and Laguz. I believe that this is an absolutely HUGE plot detail which has a lot of thematic potential. As the games make somewhat clear, Beorc have a lifespan similar to that of humans as we know them. For Laguz and Branded it is less clear, but what we do know is that they live considerably longer than Beorc, with individuals like Janaff looking like teenagers despite being over a century old. The oldest we know of is Dheginsea, who is over a thousand years old but looks to be about 60 and Lehran, who is also over a thousand but looks in his 20s. I believe that this issue is far more important to Tellius and it's people than the games give them credit for and I believe a lot more can be done to address it. I think that the games do an inadequate job at addressing the impact that this problem would have on the beorc and laguz, as it only seems to get passing references like "oh yeah, as a branded I age slower than a normal beorc and that's how they can tell i'm a branded and discriminate against me" or "you're only 20? Why are the Beorc sending babies into battle?" I believe that this issue has massive consequences for the relationship between the Beorc and the Laguz as a whole as well as how the characters see themselves and others. Consider this, how would you feel if you only lived to be about 80 years old, but yet there is another race of humans that lives to be over a thousand? how would you feel? Cheated? Envious? It honestly seems like the Beorc were screwed over by the Goddess, and they likely hate the Laguz because of it, seeing them as a favorite sibling blessed with greater strength and a longer lifespan. Then we arrive at the Laguz. How would you feel if you were among the race that lived to be a thousand years old? How would you see the people who only lived to be 80? you would see them be born, grow old, and die while you remained young for decades? How would you see them? How would you value their lives? Indeed, I believe the Lifespan issue to be one of the core reasons behind the rift between the Beorc and Laguz, and one that is rarely talked about in the games. Next we arrive to how it affects the story and the characters we know. Frankly, I find the Idea of Muarim outliving tormod by decades to be absolutely heartbreaking, as well as Soren outliving Ike. This is a truly terrible situation to be stuck in for a Laguz or a Branded, as they have to watch as the ones they love grow old and die while they remain young. How would this issue affect the relationships between these characters? How would the Beorc characters we know come to terms with their accelerated mortality? From a biological standpoint, this lifespan inequality makes no sense. As explained in Radiant Dawn, Beorc and Laguz share a common ancestor, the primordial Zunanma race. The game does not describe how long the Zunanma live, but I would assume that they live about as long as modern Laguz. So where did this inequality come from? As is well known in the Scientific community, Chimpanzees and Humans share a common ancestor. In captivity, chimpanzees can live up to 60 years, not quite as long as humans, but only about 20-30 years off. Applying Beorc-Laguz biology to this issue brings us something absolutely ludicrous. Considering that the average dragon laguz would live around a thousand years give or take, and a Beorc living at a max of 100, this would make it so dragon laguz live at least 10 times as long as a normal human. If we applied this to primate biology, this would mean that while a human would live to be 100, a chimpanzee would live to be at most 10 years old! As old as a damn sheep! The only thing that could give this lifespan inequality any semblance of sense is magic. If so, then what? What kind of magic is keeping the Laguz alive this long? Why does it exist for the Laguz and not for the Beorc? Do the Laguz have some kind of divine blessing that the Beorc don't have? Are the Beorc cursed? If so, what did they do to deserve it? So why don't the Beorc live as long as the Laguz? What impact does this have on Tellius? How exactly does Laguz aging work? How can this issue be addressed? Is there any way to extend the lifespan of the Beorc (without making it look like a bad fanfiction)? Could this be a theme that could be expanded upon in a sequel?
  2. Exploration at its finest, atmosphere at its greatest, first person gaming at its prime. Intro: Metroid Prime is a game that came out in 2002 for the Nintendo Gamecube, remade in the Wii with the Prime trilogy and now finally re released for the Wii U. It’s the same game as the Wii version but I just wanted to point it out. I have came into this game having already played Metroid before, only Super Metroid, though. I always wanted to get my hands on this game and when I finally got it, I was very excited to just start playing. Without further ado, here’s my review for Metroid Prime for the Wii. Full Review: The story of Metroid Prime is pretty straightforward at glance, you’re the intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran and you start the game with your mission being to investigate a space pirate ship. You get into the ship finding nearly every Space Pirate inside of it slaughtered in some of the most gruesome ways you can imagine. You encounter the Parasite Queen and have a pretty exciting boss fight and then you discover that the Space Pirates have used cybernetic technology to resurrect Ridley who is now known as Meta Ridley. Ridley escapes the ship as it explodes and Samus boards her gunship to follow him until she reaches the nearby planet known as Tallon IV. What happened to one, two and three again? Never mind, when you get there, your goal is to collect your items and gear that you lost during the ship’s explosion and at the same time, locating 12 different Chozo artifacts hidden throughout Tallon IV. The Chozo is an extinct alien race, throughout the game, you’ll find various different walls that have Chozo texts written on them that will provide context to the game’s world and a goal to you, the player. Reading those texts will provide you with the deepest, most engrossing story you’ll ever find in a Metroid game. The story of how this race built their home, thrived and ultimately perished after the Phazon infection. Samus’ goal primarily in this game (No pun intended) is to access the Impact Crater which is hidden beneath the Artifact Temple, from there, she needs to get into the heart of the crater and destroy the source of all Phazon energy in this planet of Tallon IV. There is no word of dialog spoken throughout the game’s storyline, unless you count Samus’ AI which very rarely speaks in the game outside of just saying “Incoming data” or “Data received” which only happens if you get stuck with the hint system turned on. On top of little to no dialog, there is also a very minimal amount of cutscenes in the game. The game only has cutscenes for entering new areas and boss fights so if you’re expecting a cutscene heavy game then you won’t find one here. But that is what makes the story presentation of this game unique, a new item that Samus gets in this game is the scan visor which allows her to scan anything ranging from objects, enemies, pirate data logs and the aforementioned Chozo lore entries are there to provide the story for the player. And most of it is optional as well, making it a game that is great for both people who enjoy a good story and also people who wanna play a good game. The game has great art direction, it looks better than most Wii games I played. The developers of this game have crafted an art style that helped this game’s graphics in aging quite well. On top of that, The atmosphere this game presents is flawless, it hooks you up from the very intro sequence and never pulls you away from there onwards to Tallon IV and beyond. It has a sense of loneliness to it since this world is not inhabited by any NPCs you would regularly find in any other game. It’s beautiful and disturbing all at once. The variety of the game’s environments is just as great as the environmental design itself. You’ll go from Tallon Overworld which is the forest-like hub area that masterfully connects everything together, to the ruins of the Chozo that once inhabited this planet, to the lava filled caverns of Magmoor, the Phazon Mines which is the main operating base of the Space Pirates in Tallon IV and my personal favorite one, Phendrana Drifts, the breathtaking snow covered tundra area. Not only is it my favorite level in the game but it is also my favorite Ice level in all of gaming as well. Metroid Prime stays true to its roots, the first person view is there to further increase the sense of immersion, this game is not a first person shooter but rather, a first person adventure game. The game’s structure is similar to that of earlier Metroid games. Very non-linear with some levels that you can’t get access to at first but as you acquire more and more items, you will be able to unlock and visit areas that you weren’t able to before. The great thing about the weapons in this game is that none of them become obsolete or useless after a while. Each of them has their own strengths and weaknesses. The Power Beam is the weapon Samus starts with, being able to do rapid fire and combos with missiles to fire off a super missile which has more destructive power and of course, more damage. the Wave Beam fires electrical shots effective against electric based enemies and combos with missiles to create the Wavebuster, using that is like using a Ghostbusters gun. There is also the Ice Beam which fires it’s rounds slowly, kinda like a shotgun and with enough energy, it can freeze an enemy and it combos with missiles to create the Ice Spreader which is an aoe freeze that can freeze off certain parts of the map. You can actually destroy frozen enemies and see their limbs fall apart which is a bit disturbing to see in a Nintendo game. There is also the Plasma Beam which fires off heat based shots and when charged high enough, it can completely disintegrate enemies which, once again is especially disturbing to see in a Nintendo game. It can combo with missiles to create a flamethrower which is actually not that strong and very costly. I usually prefer sticking to the Super Missiles combo. The boss fights in this game are actually very well done which is indeed rare to see in an FPS. They are for most part, fun and challenging and provide a test of the player’s skills. Another thing this game does surprisingly well is its platforming. Platforming usually sucks in FPS games but Retro Studios managed to make it work remarkably as it wouldn’t be a Metroid game without some platforming here and there. The game has its fair share of epic first person shooting segments with space pirates and such here and there. But the game always feels fresh as it breaks up these segments by exploration, platforming and of course, good ol’ puzzle solving. The morph ball is one of the most unique things about the game that separates it from other shooters. Samus can still indeed turn into a ball just like in previous Metroid titles and this game handles it even better than it did before as the 3D environment makes things more complex and even give the opportunity for adding more features. For example, a new thing you can do with the morph ball is that you can use a charge power up which makes the morph ball accelerate into high speed and allow her to use things scattered throughout the world known as half pipes which allow you to skateboard on them and just go back and forth until you get high enough speed that it boosts you up to your target. The most impressive thing about this game are the little things that the developers added that made the experience overall better. There are very neat graphical touches that this game has that is advanced for even the Gamecube such as how you see Samus’ visor getting humid, little water drops that you see when she gets out of a pool or water area or even seeing her face reflected from her helmet visor when a big flash of light happens, usually from an explosion. Another thing that is very impressive about the game is the fact that immersion is never broken and the experience is completely seamless. There is no loading screens in the game whatsoever, when the game loads, it loads and it never does so again, you will see no loading screens in between areas and will always find yourself going from one incredibly detailed environment to the next without anything breaking up the flow of play which is something was adapted in games that came later such as Elder Scrolls, Dark Souls and Demon Souls, etc. But Prime does it better as it never loads or seem like it’s loading up with technical hiccups and such, instead it remains smooth with rock solid framerate through and through. If there’s any complaints I have against this game, they’re quite minor. For being such a huge game with big emphasis on immersion and atmosphere, the enemies can respawn a bit too much which not only feels monotonous, but it also breaks the immersion which is one of the key things that this game does really well. Maybe it doesn’t shatter the player’s immersion but it can at least crack it a little bit. The backtracking might be a problem for some players but I personally liked it as the areas you go back through has new enemies and will even give you an oportunity to try out new gear that will allow you to access areas not previously accessible, kill enemies much faster which can be quite satisfying or even kill enemies that were previously unkillable which is even more satisfying. But going back to complaints, the Chozo ghosts are just the worst enemies in the game, they respawn too frequently and can sometimes be a bitch to take down due to their ninja skillz, cloaking and insane warping that can be annoying to deal with at least until you grab the X-Ray visor which will allow you to go to town on these punks. This complaint is more of a personal thing for me but when you die in this game you go back to a save point which sounds ok in theory but you will lose all of your scanning progress that you did before saving the game which can have you forget to scan things again thinking that you already scanned them again but noooo. Final Verdict: In the end of the day, there are many great things to say about Metroid Prime because it is an overall solid experience throughout. There are lots of attention paid to every little detail and the game is brimming with lore throughout. The game also seems like it has a chance for replayability. It’s one of those games that is enjoyable to go through more than once because it’s just that good, it’s hard to find games like that these days. But calling it a solid game is not enough as this is a game for the ages, what Super Mario 64 did for the Mario series and what Ocarina of Time did for the Zelda series is also what Metroid Prime did for the Metroid series. Adding in a 3rd dimension and a first person camera was not enough for Retro, instead, they went completely outta their way to make the first 3D Metroid game the best entry in the series to date. UPDATE: Metroid Prime 2: Echoes has been finally reviewed http://serenesforest.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=53553.
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