Review by SuperSmashBro13
"People who expect something different frown upon this game... Allow me to enlighten you."
Metroid: Other M. A smash hit among some people, controversial among others. While the general consensus is that the game is a good buy, there's a trend among unfavorable reviewers as to why they don't like the game. I've taken time to think about the trend, and I believe I know the solution to it: The negative reviewers simply don't know what exactly they're getting into. It's like Fire Emblem or Super Smash Bros.; if you expect it to be something it's not, you'll probably be disappointed. Therefore, allow me to enlighten you as to what you should expect and why, if you have a Wii, you should buy this game.
PLOT: 7/10. I would say the best plot in the entire series, although that's really not saying much--Metroid has never been known for having stellar plots. (That's why I gave plot a 7 and not a 10.) The game starts off a day after the events of Super Metroid. Samus has defeated Mother Brain, and the Baby is dead. After recovering, she heads through space and receives an SOS signal from a vessel called the Bottle Ship. Within, she encounters Galactic Federation soldiers, led by her former commander, Adam Malkovich. You may recall Adam from Metroid Fusion; it's mentioned there that Adam sacrificed himself for galactic peace in place of Samus. Part of this game involves Adam's sacrifice. Moving on, Samus and the soldiers investigate the ship to discover what the hey is going on, which begins to slowly uncover a deadly plan. Is this story gonna win an Oscar? Is it up there beside Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy? Heck no, but it's still got enough plot twists, enigmas, and (very little) character development to keep me satisfied and place it at the top of my Metroid story list. Metroid Fusion follows right after that.
Now, there's something I don't understand among what I call "Metroid purists." In every game series I know anything about, every single one, players have demanded great, involving stories and character development. Metroid is, I swear, the ONLY video game series I know of where the purists demand no plot, no personality, and no one to talk to. Purists criticize Other M for deigning to tell us snippets of Samus's past, craft together a story, and actually give the girl emotions. Why is it that you demand good stories in every other game series but blame Nintendo and Team Ninja for trying to make a good one here?
Speaking of giving the girl emotions, that brings us to another controversial topic: Samus's emotions. A few people have called the game's developers 'sexist' in their version of Samus. ...They make it seem like Samus is a whiny, emotional brat. She's not. She's still the tough Samus we all know and love, but I'm going to be up front here, and I'm not really spoiling anything, but here it is: Samus cries in one scene. Now tell me, girls, if the man who "understood you best" and was the "closest thing to a father" for years up and died, would you cry? I think 99% of girls would have to truthfully answer yes. I personally agree with the developers' decision to make Samus more human. Samus with no personality was boring. I didn't think it made her "cooler" to have no personality or character whatsoever. In nearly every other scene in the game, Samus is tough like she usually is, and any time she starts to drop the toughness, it's a situation either a male or female would react the same to.
GRAPHICS: 10/10. I hafta say, Other M has some of the best graphics I have ever seen on the Wii, rivaling Resident Evil 4. (Well, to be honest, RE4 was probably better, but still.) Cutscenes are realistic, crisp, detailed, and...epic. Some cutscenes sent tingles down my spine. The gameplay was extremely smooth and fluid. Only rarely does lag ever occur, usually when your Wii is just overwhelmed with too much. On rare occasions, you'll have to wait a second or two for a door to open, and the message "Now Loading" will appear on the bottom-right corner of the screen. Even in-game, graphics are realistic. Monsters glare at you, missiles explode in realistic fashion (and Samus prepares the next one epic shotgun style), and lava looks very...hot.
Let's talk about Controversial Topic #3 for a moment: The long cutscenes. True, these cutscenes do tend to be much longer than most players are used to. Some of them have to be. Part of the point was to make it seem like a movie (which it does a good job at). Most cutscenes are either epic, suspenseful, or beautiful, so I don't mind waiting through them. Some people will honestly tell you that you can't skip through the cutscenes. HAH! They're wrong! If you press the - button, you'll, what do you know, skip through it. I guess they never pressed random buttons to figure that out. So, even if you don't like the long cutscenes, you really CAN skip them altogether.
SOUND AND MUSIC: 8/10. This incorporates sound effects, music, and voice acting. We'll cover sound effects first. Nothing's more satisfying than listening to an enemy explode from the Screw Attack or a Super Missile blow up. Samus's footsteps change depending on what you walk on (polished floors are my favorite). You've also got your typical monster roars, beam shots, falling into lava and baking to a crisp, etc..
Despite the fact that this game is the first Metroid game to have orchestrated music, the music is really pretty average. Some of it's pretty cool, like the briefing music you get when you load up your file, and some boss music. The music you hear in general is just...forgettable. They really could have done better with an orchestra.
Finally, there's the voice acting. Despite all the complaints from some people, it's actually pretty good. The best? Extremely professional? No, except for a select few characters (namely Samus and Adam). Two things I always keep in mind when listening to video game voice acting: 1, would they say this in real life, and 2, is that how they would say it? For the most part, I say yes. Heck, I went into the game expecting a dumb script and mediocre voice acting, and I was pleasantly surprised. No one's voice acting is, in my opinion, bad; sometimes it's not really good either, but I wouldn't say a single character has bad voice acting. Aside from a few questionable dialogue choices (i.e., "It was clear to me they were researching bioweapons" when we'd already learned that half an hour ago), the lines are what somebody would say in real life, which, remember, I always pay attention to. The "drone script" is Controversial Point #4, and I think it's ill-founded. A few less-than-professional decisions does not constitute an entirely rotten script.
GAMEPLAY: 9/10. Part of the developers' goal was to bring back the classic Metroid feel while still incorporating new, more action-oriented factors, and I think they succeeded. You hold the Wii Remote horizontally and play like it was an NES controller. The controls are pretty easy to get used to, and given time, you'll master them and perform everything in a flash--dodging, blasting a missile--just like they intended it. Controversial Point #5 is the first-person mode. Let's be up front here: You cannot move while in first-person. You can aim, but you cannot walk. There, I have warned you. You now know what to expect and you won't be surprised if you get the game and can't move in first-person. Some people are under the impression that you are a "sitting duck" while in first-person because of this. This, too, is false. By moving the reticule out of the screen as an attack approaches, you will dodge it. Anybody who bothered to get to know the game would have known this. Some people also claim that when you aim at the screen, you must find your reticule and aim before an enemy takes your head off. The way to fix this? It's one word: Practice. If I can whip out my Wii Remote, fire a missile, and return Samus to her original position in about a second, I'm sure you can do it, too, and I've only had about six days to get used to this. Other M is a fast-paced game, and if you refuse to keep up, no wonder you'll mark it rotten. Laying casually on your side can inhibit your aim, so stay alert when you really need to aim. The transition between third and first person is quick and smooth, so your worries of not being able to fire at the Reo nest in time are laid to rest.
The game plays mostly like old Metroid games; run around various sectors, shoot enemies, collect items to make yourself more powerful, explore new areas, defeat bosses, and escape from exploding planets. Yup, sums it up. If you're familiar with the Metroid series, you'll know what I'm talking about. Team Ninja has added some more action-based maneuvers, such as SenseMoves (your source of dodging), Lethal Strikes (used to execute enemies and bosses alike in epic fashion), and Overblasts (used to leap on enemies and pop them a good one in the head with a charge beam). You move--and dodge--with the control pad. Even I doubted this. Surely movement wouldn't be nearly as accurate with just a control pad; now we have to dodge with the same input? As it turns out, it works remarkably well. The camera will swivel some at appropriate times so that, by simply holding forward on the control pad, you'll turn corners. It's not Super-Mario-Galaxy-Turn-At-Wrong-Moments-To-Send-You-Plummeting-To-Your-Death; it's a subtle movement that seems to resonate with what you want. This makes Speed Boosting much easier. To dodge, you simply move the control pad in the direction you want to dodge in when an attack comes your way. This raised another doubt in my head: What if you simply wanted to move away? What if it didn't read you quickly enough and you got hit? Most of the time, you're going to want to dodge an attack, especially because when lasers are blasting all around you or a boss charges at you, why run away when you can simply flip to the side and blast them with a charge shot? Again, it's fast-paced, and you must keep up or you'll be left behind in the dust.
Controversial Point #6 is the reduced exploration. This game is admittedly much more linear than previous Metroid games. Secret, off-the-map rooms are virtually nonexistent, and the game, as in Fusion, tells you where to go. It does not, however, tell you how to get there, which can stump you for quite awhile, and besides, lack of exploration does not make a game bad. Don't forget that many awesome games (like Halo) are quite linear. True, it's not like classic Metroid, but here's the deal: It doesn't have to be. The series is subject to change, and it should. Lack of exploration is, in the grand scheme of things, trivial.
There is also Controversial Point #7, which I, frankly, agree with: On occasion, you'll be forced to stop, enter first-person mode, and inspect something before you move on. This "something" is usually small and blends in, so you may be stuck there a good ten to fifteen minutes before you find what the heck it is you're looking for. When you know what to look for, yes, the game becomes more cinematic, but finding it first is torture.
REPLAY VALUE: 8/10. After beating the main events of the game, you can return to the Bottle Ship to collect the power-ups you neglected to obtain or couldn't at the time. You can also "complete" the game by doing what Samus came back to do. To be honest, the first ending is a little disappointing and doesn't end with the rush of adrenaline we've come to expect from Metroid. (Sad, yes, but true.) The second ending makes up for that, however. That redeemed it...somewhat. Another thing I don't agree with is that you CAN'T get some of the power-ups until you beat the main events, and by then, you've little use for the rest. Item hunting is fun, though; after beating the main events, all item locations become revealed (chances are you've spotted most of them anyway), and it's up to you to figure out how to get them. In the main menu, you can watch the movies you've seen and view gallery pictures you've unlocked.
GAME LENGTH: 8/10. On your first play through (this is including the events that take place after beating the main storyline), you will probably spend between 10 and 15 hours, especially if you look for the items you lost. If you know what you're doing, it will probably last between 5-7 hours. This isn't including the long (skippable, as I've pointed out) cutscenes that keep you entertained.
TOTAL SCORE: 50/60. That's an average score of 8.3. Still, by GameFAQs' standard, I would give it a 9, as you have seen.
FLAWS: There are those annoying scenes where you have to find just the right thing to move on. The music also isn't very memorable considering it was all orchestrated. There are finally people to talk to, but not a great amount of character development. Mostly, there are Samus, Anthony Higgs (lovingly dubbed "MBD" by some people), and Adam. The other soldiers don't get much screen time. (Of course, Metroid purists probably would have preferred that. No company in previous Metroid games, after all.)
CONCLUSION: I hope I've covered most of the controversial topics and given you better insight into them. If you are one who is considered a "Metroid purist," I invite you to lighten up a bit. When franchises don't change, they slowly drift into obscurity, starting off with a bang but slowing down until they become a subject of ridicule. Change to Metroid brought Metroid Prime. Change to Mario brought...well, everything, really. Do you want Metroid to be a series that only a cult of diehard fans appreciates, or do you want it to be something truly great? Metroid: Other M took the steps in that direction, and I believe they have succeeded, for the most part. Why not support them in their effort?
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/07/10, Updated 09/09/10
Game Release: Metroid: Other M (US, 08/31/10)
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