Review by BondOfFlameX
"For those who want to disagree."
Metroid: Other M turned out to be a touchy topic among serious Metroid fans. A game developed by Team Ninja? No use of analog control? A stiff first-person mode? All things unheard of, and seemingly odd design choices, and we haven't even reached the "blasphemy" that is Samus, now fulled voiced, as is the rest of the cast. It was a gamble, no doubt. However, all of these aspects and more fall into the Metroid pot and mix far better than expected thanks to some spectacular level design and cinematic action, yet very few seem to think so. Some people just don't get it, I suppose.
This game is a far greater collaboration than just Nintendo and Team Ninja. Multiple production companies were brought in for the game's extensive and brilliant use of CGI sequences, which carry seamless transitions with the in-game engine. That said engine also happens to be quite a feat to pull off. An interesting art style, sleek animations, and running at a full 60 frames-per-second, provides arguably the best looking Wii game in terms of 'realism' and proves that anybody could have made a good-looking game on this system if you know the hardware. Many thanks to Team Ninja for that.
The game controls entirely with the Wii remote turned on its side, using the D-pad to move around and the 1 and 2 buttons to shoot and jump, respectively. At first I was concerned, not that the digital control wouldn't work, but more-so towards the actual size of the Wii remote's D-pad. That thing is pretty small, and I wasn't entirely sure it would be able to hold up for an entire 10+ hour experience. But I always seem to underestimate it, as it delivers crisp movements and good direction, thanks to the help of a very clever camera system. In the first half hour I would always misjudge the camera and try to take the movement around corridors into my own hands, but the camera's fixation allowed me to only press in one direction, sort of stripping it of its depth to strangely make an easier and better-paced experience out of it, while maintaining the feel of a classic side-scroller.
The change is perspectives is handled by turning the Wii remote and pointing it at the screen, which is a seamless transition that also grants a brief slow down in order for you to get situated and aim your reticule in its proper place. Good thing, too, because first person mode is heavily relied on, and if it wasn't completely seamless, it could have been a serious game-breaker. Not the case here. The lack of movement in first-person mode also tests your reaction time. As your skill with the controls increases, you definitely feel the payoff with the ninja-like moves you get to pull off. Enemies become a lot more fun to take down, and regardless of the situation, combat becomes just as welcome into a Metroid game as exploration.
If I were to have a single gripe with the controls (and this is minuscule), I would say that some of the scanning sections are a little difficult to get through. Sometimes you'd reach a point where the game wants Samus to see something in particular, and it could take up to forever to find it, but once I got the patterns down, the exploration and detective aspects of a Metroid game were given a new dimension and I was all the more appreciative.
Sometimes it also throws a behind-the-shoulder perspective at you. And while some of these do a great job at building dramatic tension, I couldn't help but wonder why I wasn't able to run down the long hallway instead of cautiously tiptoeing through it. But to be fair, this particular segment lasted up to a minute, and it was a good chance to catch a breather from the game's action.
Now then, the-little-engine-that-could of Metroid Other M, so to speak. The story and voice acting. Out of the 10 hours it will take you to blast through the story mode, about 2 hours of them are spent watching cutscenes. And in these cutscenes, Samus talks. A lot. Her voice is...a lot more melancholic and monotone than some people might like. But consider the character's past and that is to be expected. In the timeline, Other M takes place a day after Super Metroid, and right before Fusion, which takes place the farthest along in the story. For a good 8 games before this, she has not spoken, and she's only killed, rescued, and seemed like an all-around badass. But as an evident and obviously intended change in character design shows, there is a person underneath the armor, and its explored quite a bit. The fact that you see her face through her visor during videos was very important to me. It helped me see what they were really after when going with Samus's characterization.
The voice acting from everybody, may seem a little campy at times, especially those of the Galactic Federation crew members (James Pierce in particular), but Samus, Adam Malkovich, and Anthony are all voiced very very well. The script is fairly well written, and at the very least, everything is believable. There are particular scenes that fans of Metroid should brace themselves for, because they're handled in such a dramatic and cinematic way that will make your jaw drop. There are lots of good stuff going on here.
After all was said and done and I beat the final boss, I have to still go on and collect the other 74% of items and upgrades lying around. Usually all that collecting for upgrades is what makes a Metroid game, and as others have defended the past traditions of Metroid by saying this game deviates from the norm, I'll come back and say "its what every fan apparently wanted for so long". Change is here and whether or not you like it, accept it.
With all these new features and design choices being executed, this is one of those games where you either get it, or you don't. I'm not surprised that some people just didn't get it. Be that as it may, I got everything. 10/10
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 09/03/10
Game Release: Metroid: Other M (US, 08/31/10)
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