Previews

Metroid Prime Hunters

Nintendo's first forray into the heady world of first-person shooters on a mission to seek and destroy

There are few games we're willing to humiliate ourselves on the tube for. We've received some harsh looks over the years - most notably for yelling at virtual dogs on the Circle Line - but Metroid Prime Hunters looks set to top them all in a flurry of desperate stylus-slashing and harsh words.

Since we last saw it at E3 2005, the game's undergone a complete transformation - the graphics have been polished, the interface has been tweaked and, crucially, we can now hop online for some morph-ball-spinning multiplayer mayhem. Don't be confused by all this emphasis on headshots and team deathmatching though - underneath its hard exterior Hunters still wields the classic Metroid gameplay we all know and love.

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Until now, the game's single-player adventure has been kept under wraps. Thankfully though, it turns out to be a full-on, highly-polished campaign that sees you cruising the galaxy in Samus' high-tech gun ship searching for mysterious artefacts scattered across dark and dingy planets. Despite initial fears that Nintendo's focus on the multiplayer side of things would leave the solo game lacking, it's all looking very sturdy indeed.

Throughout your interplanetary quest, you'll cross some other bounty hunters scouting for treasure, facing them off in frantic battles clearly designed to wear your stylus down a couple of notches. As unexpected and wonderful as the single-player campaign is, there's no doubt that Hunters is heavily geared toward the multiplayer arena. Playable both wirelessly and online via Nintendo's Wi-fi Connection service, Hunter's multiplayer offers enough modes and options to rival any big-name FPS, whilst the meaty roster of Hunters make it significantly more tantalising than the deathmatch modes offered by Metroid Prime 2.

Each bounty hunter has its own tricks and traits to use in battle, making your choice of character an even more crucial decision. Hunters each have a HUD and secondary mode tailored specifically for them: Samus can roll around in her trademark morph-ball form, Weavel can leave a handy turret to obliterate trespassers, while Kanden crawls around as the positively annoying 'stinglarva'.

Picking the right hunter becomes even more important when you hop online however. Your 'Hunter License' tracks an enormous amount of detail on your play history - like the map you're best at or your most used weapon - and then puts it online for all to see. The days when we could hide our rubbish multiplayer skills from the world are certainly long gone.

We'll need to lock our mitts on Metroid Prime Hunters for a bit longer before we produce that all-important final verdict, but be assured - it's already looking like one you'll want to have in your collection.

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