Metroid Dread – a brilliant game that breathes new life into Switch •

Metroid Dread - a brilliant game that breathes new life into Switch •

It’s finally here. After several failed attempts over the years, Metroid Dread is finally here. Nintendo’s collaboration with Spanish developer Mercury Steam is paying off for Switch. impeccable presentation. Not only that, but the styling of its aesthetic also makes it a brilliant showcase for the new Switch OLED model.

At this point, the story of the side-scrolling Metroid games has been told time and time again – but what makes this entry interesting is how it was developed. Like Metroid Prime, Dread represents a fusion of Eastern and Western influences to create something that feels supremely polished: Nintendo brings its incredible production values ​​to the party, while the technical excellence characteristic of Mercury Steam shines through. Together, it’s a brilliant match and a much better result than the previous collaboration between the two sides – the Uneven Metroid: Samus Returns for Nintendo 3DS.

What I like about Dread is the smoothness of the technical presentation – too often Switch versions encounter hardware limitations: frame rate issues, long load times, or poor audio quality. image may detract from the experience. This is not the case here, Metroid Dread is smooth and fast. It starts as soon as you launch the game for the first time – it starts up fast, taking you straight to the main menu without the usual company logos or long load times. The in-game jump is also relatively brief, and it’s pretty much seamless once inside, although elevators and streetcars are deployed to hide the background streaming.

Metroid Dread – the video version of Digital Foundry’s technical review.

Metroid Dread is what I love about classic console games. Technology serves the presentation and you never feel like it interferes with your enjoyment. Once in the game, the first thing you’ll notice is how sharper it is than the typical Switch version. In docked mode, the game offers a resolution of 1600×900 – the game does not use anti-aliasing, but it works to its advantage. Due to its side-scrolling design, you can never see far enough to feel a strong flicker, so it looks sharper. In portable mode, however, things are even better as the game runs at the native 720p of the internal display. You can imagine this was done to showcase the new Switch OLED display which, of course, looks amazing with Metroid.

The entertainment is also first class. The racing cycle looks and feels great, in large part thanks to the way the crossing allows Samus to adapt to the surroundings. The core movement has to feel right for any action game to be successful and this is one area where Mercury Steam has struggled in the past. Metroid Dread, however, is right. All of this is made possible by an efficient animation mixing system, allowing multiple animations to work in tandem, with a good degree of contextual versatility. In fact, even the simplest animations impress – the simple act of aiming from a standing position exhibits remarkable fluidity. No matter what you do in Metroid Dread, the animation feels smooth, consistent, and natural. Environmental animation can also impress, especially the physics-based fluid system.

The suite of atmospheric effects also accentuates the ambience. A subtle use of bloom and light enhances the background while the mist adds depth to the scene. The grain of the film is strategically used depending on your surroundings. I was impressed with the effects work in general, but the quality of the environments creates a magnificent atmosphere – the mix of handcrafted structures with appropriate materials and superb lighting certainly has an impact: specific areas have reflections while others simulate the appearance of indirect lighting in a surprisingly efficient way. We’ve seen a lot of so-called 2.5D games over the years – and the results aren’t always great – but the development team here absolutely nails it. It’s one of the nicest side-scrolling 3D games I’ve seen to date and it’s all down to this mix of art and technology. That said, there’s an interesting caveat to be aware of: Particle effects are great, but particles update at half speed, likely in the service of faster performance. It doesn’t impact everything, but you’ll notice these half-rate effects throughout the game.


30 fps cutscenes, 60 fps gameplay – although sometimes what looks like background streaming can cause momentary performance drops in-game.

Performance is also strong overall. While gaming, Metroid Dread aims to deliver a smooth 60fps experience, which is essential as all of Mercury Steam’s previous console games were choppy or capped at 30fps. The 3DS gaming’s lower frame rate kept it from feeling as smooth as it should, but luckily that’s not a problem here. In my experience with the game, Metroid Dread hit its mark almost every moment and it’s remarkably stable to the point where it feels like it’s effortlessly rendering. This is an impressively optimized engine given the resolution goals and the hardware it runs on. Having said that, in a few cases I have noticed an occasional slowdown that could well be due to background streaming, but it’s worth noting. Additionally, cutscenes drop to 30 frames per second. All of that performance profile is also true for handheld mode, which functions essentially like docked mode, albeit at 720p resolution instead.

Another key element worth discussing is audio. One of the most woefully underused aspects of the Switch is its surround sound capabilities. While lagging behind in terms of competing systems and support for their audio system, the hardware has the option of enabling 5.1 surround sound, but many games come with stereo-only support. With Metroid Dread, Mercury Steam not only presents surround sound “done right” on the system, it is also a kind of masterclass in general for sound design and layout, giving us one of the most common hearing experiences. most powerful of the year. Whether Metroid Dread puts you in the smallest limits with only the sounds of heartbeats or gigantic structures of steel and chaos, the sound feels like a living entity throughout, dynamically changing to suit the storyline. and truly surrounding you from all angles. While Samus’ actions take center stage in terms of volumes, stillness highlights rear channels as rocks tumble, animals scatter, and machines operate from a distance. It really is a great experience rarely felt on Nintendo Switch.

oldThe aesthetics of Metroid Dread perfectly match the excellent display of the new Switch OLED model.

The overall Metroid Dread soundscape is something really out of this world as well. Almost every aspect and individual item in the game has fine-tuned sound design, and there is some constant uneasiness about how sound is used in the game. Planet ZDR is a mix of bio-organic material, awesome machines. and a civilization left behind. Interestingly, the sound mix reflects these aspects by making much of the surrounding sounds smooth, earthy, and recognizable, while in the foreground, metallic, overwhelming sounds dominate what is essentially ZDR’s natural state. This is reflected more in Samus’ own journey – while engaging in exploration, the EMMI detecting her creates a soundscape of chaos as she “invades” their territory.

In terms of music, one of the defining characteristics of Metroid in its illustrious legacy and Dread does not disappoint. Each zone has a thematically recognizable allure, with striking melodies that perfectly suit the flora and fauna it represents. There’s also a welcome return to the use of a chorus, a great choice as it’s about portraying the voices of civilizations left in the past on ZDR, a feeling of “whispering” from the past that becomes almost haunting in the past. as you explore more of the planet and its history.

Between visual design, soundscape, and solid performance, Metroid Dread’s foundation is superb and for me it’s one of the biggest releases of the year. It’s great to see Mercury Steam finally deliver a game that lives up to the team’s potential – without a shadow of a doubt, it’s the best game the studio has ever worked on, breathing new life into a series absent from the house of Nintendo. consoles for far too long.

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