"A hard game to rate"

I don't think I've anticipated a game on the Wii as much as Metroid: Other M. A direct sequel to Super Metroid, my favorite game of all time, developed by Team Ninja, whose Ninja Gaiden games are always impressive. As the game came closer to launch, the promise of a deeper story and a more developed Samus character poised this game to be one of the best of the series.

However, the game doesn't quite knock it out of the park in any of these aspects. This game isn't bad. In fact, there are few games better than this on the Wii. As a serious gamer and long-time Metroid fan, I have a hard time giving this game a thumbs up or down, all things considered.

GAMEPLAY:
When I first popped the game in, I was immediately reviled by how this game controlled. Imagine playing any other 3-D action game without a joystick. As smooth and fluid as the Ninja Gaiden games, I'm surprised they would just completely ignore the available controller hardware. A nunchuck, or even a classic/Gamecube controller would have fixed all of my gripes with controlling this game.

Using the different weapons is also very unwieldy. While in 3rd-person view, you're forced to rely on auto-aim. But, the game's fast-paced action require some quick Ninja-style running and shooting. The problem here is that Samus won't auto-aim at enemies that aren't right in front of her. So, you find yourself running away quickly and trying to keep distance between you and your target. It becomes more difficult than it needs to be in many instances, such as small corridors.

The missiles can only be fired in first-person, which means you're standing still and pointing the Wii remote at the screen to lock on and fire. I was optimistic when I first learned of this control style, and I assumed the missiles wouldn't be a part of the more intense fights. This however wasn't the case. Several encounters require you to aim, shoot, and dodge incoming attacks and other enemies all at once. Very frustrating.

Having said all that, I did eventually get used to playing with a horizontal remote. And I had similar complaints with the original Metroid Prime's controls. Switching visors to scan objects was somewhat arduous and slowed the game way down. But I got used to it and eventually finished and enjoyed the game.

And once I got used to it, I started to dig it. It's much easier to compare this game to Ninja Gaiden rather than Metroid. Fast paced fights and some exciting finishing moves. Very fun stuff.

STORY
This game has a lot of storytelling. A lot of Samus dialogue. A LOT.

Now, a lot of this is personal preference, but I'm not into anime. And this game's narrative is definitely anime. To me, the dialogue is painful to listen to, and the overall story is somewhat incomprehensible compared to what I'm used to.

As for the other characters, they're worthless. Generic military-types with nothing to say throughout the game.

But, I know plenty of people will love that style. And I'm glad to see a Nintendo game that takes the character beyond what we know from the old NES/SNES days. Hopefully, the next Zelda will offer something similar and evolve past the N64's evolution of the game.

GRAPHICS/SOUND
With a Wii game, I can't judge too harshly about the shortcomings of the system's graphics. But this game really does have some ugly graphics.

The environments are really dark and murky. Granted, all Metroid games are somewhat dark and ominous, but when you're trying to find secret holes in the walls for hidden paths or powerups, it becomes harder and more frustrating than it should be.

Now, the alternative would be to allow the player to go first-person and scan all the points in a room that look a bit suspicious, which would lead to a more brainless puzzle to solve. So I'm thankful that they didn't take that approach to this game.

There's no complaints with audio here. I especially love the old intro music from Super Metroid playing on the load screen, and the sounds and ambiance are definitely Metroid. It all came to life on my 5.1 surround gloriously.

PLAYTIME/REPLAYABILITY
I think for a lot of people, this game is going to be a one-time playthrough. I'm not the type to go back and 100% a game or crank up the difficulty once I've gotten the content out of a game. The length of the game is satisfying. Worst-case scenario: you blast through this game in a few hours and trade it in for a new game. Playtime is never really a factor in buying a game for myself.

FINAL RECOMMENDATION
This game is far from perfect. I would also say it was far short of what I expected. However, I can't really recommend against playing or even buying this game. This game might have been targeted for someone younger than myself. And for the ~13 year old crowd, there's probably no better action available, especially on the Wii.

I've learned you can't really be so picky with what you play on this system, so take Metroid: Other M for what it is and you'll probably have a satisfying experience.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 09/03/10

Game Release: Metroid: Other M (US, 08/31/10)


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