Review by John325

"Metroid: Other Movie - A Lifetime Channel Original"

Introduction
The Metroid series is one of Nintendo's finest, and the new entry, Metroid: Other M, is finally here. After the excellent first person Metroid Prime series by Retro was concluded, it was announced that Metroid was returning to both third person view and Japanese development. Many fans were made uneasy when it was announced that Team Ninja would be heavily involved in the project, but the fact that it was being headed by Yoshio Sakamoto, who has been heavily involved with Metroid from the beginning, gave hope that the game would live up to its classic name. Sakamoto promised that this game would flesh out Samus's character as the most story heavy Metroid yet, but has this decision ultimately backfired?

Story 3/10
The story is the most controversial aspect of this game. Rather than opt for the minimalist approach of the 2d titles or the optional scanning of logs like the Prime series, Metroid: Other M offers a full blown Final Fantasy XIII style cinematic experience. The story begins with a recap of the events that took place in Super Metroid's final moments and leads into Samus receiving a distress signal from a space station called “the bottle ship.” She arrives to find out that the Galactic Federation has already sent a squad of soldiers, led by her old commanding officer Adam Malkovich. She ultimately joins up with them and agrees to follow Adam's orders.

Samus has had spoken lines before in Metroid: Fusion, but they were never overly intrusive and didn't reveal a whole lot about her. However, in Other M, she not only talks, she talks a lot. For a series that has largely lived on let the player form their own ideas about the character of Samus, this is a bit disconcerting. The personality she reveals as she narrates the storyline is bound to infuriate many fans who have long seen Samus as a stoic and strong individual who is in control of her emotions.

Throughout the game, Samus has many flashbacks to her time in the GF with Adam and portrays herself as an insecure little girl who has trouble handling the fact that she's a woman in a man's world. From giving a thumbs down as a salute, to her monologues about daddy figure Adam and how he's the only one who understands her, this gets downright cheesy and embarrassing to watch. Back on the bottle ship Samus continues to act submissive to Adam as she instantly agrees to disable all of her abilities at his request with zero hesitation. Later on in the game, there's a scene where Samus is so frozen in fear that she is unable to do anything.

Watching the story play out, it is downright difficult to believe that this is the same bounty hunter who has saved the galaxy on numerous occasions. In an attempt to make Samus more human and relatable, Other M way overdoes it. It's one thing to have emotions. It's another thing to be crippled by them. For a game series that has never had a lot of story and never really needed one, I have to question the sanity of the game creators for inserting this melodramatic poorly plotted mess.

Once you complete the game, a cinema mode unlocks, and you can watch all the cut-scenes strung together like a movie. Whether you'd want to is another story.

Gameplay 6/10
The gameplay in M:oM is also controversial. Other M opts to use the Wii pointer and nothing else, having you hold it sideways like a NES controller leaving you with the d-pad and two buttons for input. If you want to fire a missile, you have to turn the wii remote and point it at the screen, which changes the perspective to first person and leaves you unable to move at all. This shift is rather awkward. The controls are not really bad, but they are not particularly good, either. They work, but only just.

The game itself plays more like an action game than a Metroid game. Almost all exploration is gone. For the vast majority of the game you are restricted to a linear path, and doors will often lock behind you to prevent revisiting previous areas. There are some hidden missile expansions and energy tanks along the way, but the game practically tells you their exact position. The game only allows free exploration at the very end, and this exploration makes it very clear why they decided to restrict the main story line so much, because when you have a few options of where to go, every other area is “now loading” for ten seconds, especially when you use the speed booster.

The combat is very easy. Due to the limitations of the digital control pad in 3d space, Other M includes a dodge move that occurs automatically as long as you are pressing a direction. This means you will almost never get hit by anything as long as you are moving. Samus's beam weapon also auto-aims at enemies, so most of the time you can just shoot blindly down a corridor and not worry about whether or not you hit anything. The only challenge comes from shifting to first person to fire a missile, which is mostly only required for boss fights. This is more frustrating than difficult, since it merely involves waiting until you have a large enough window of time to get a missile off without getting hit.

Throughout the game, Adam authorizes Samus's abilities as he deems fit. This means no more finding them along the way. It also leads to illogical moments such as Adam not deciding it was appropriate to authorize the Varia suit until you are most of the way through the lava sector. This approach also means that there are no substantial new powerups for Samus to acquire. All of the abilities Samus has are repeats from Super Metroid.

One very low point of the game involves forced first person segments where you are frozen in place and have to find some tiny object in order to progress the game. Often you will pass the cursor directly over the object you are supposed to examine without the game registering it, leading to a lot of time wasted. There are also random segments which force Samus into slow tank controls in certain areas. These moments completely kill the pacing of the game.

Replay Value 5/10
After you complete the game, every door unlocks, and you are finally completely free to finish your collecting spree of leftover expansions. At this point, there is also an extra boss and epilogue sequence to find. However, this can all be done in less than twelve hours the first time through and once you do, the only reason to replay it is the hard mode that unlocks upon 100% completion. There is also a cinema mode and art gallery that unlocks. If you don't care about getting everything, a normal main story play-through only lasts around 8-10 hours.

Graphics 8/10
The graphics look pretty good for a Wii game, but the actual art design is lacking. The game is filled with generic looking hallways and rooms that don't really stand out visually, and the themes never go beyond the typical generic fire, ice, and jungle areas. The only thing that stands out about them is the holographic effect that appears sometimes to remind you that these are only simulations on a space station. One high point of the visuals is that the animations are some of the most fluid I've seen on the Wii.

Sound 2/10
Metroid: Other M has almost no music in it. The background noise consists mostly ambient sounds and, very rarely, one or two recycled tunes from past Metroid games. Expansions are also missing the familiar tune that used to play when you picked them up in other Metroid games. This is a very disappointing aspect of the game. The voice acting is alright, but it's not spectacular. Samus sounds monotone throughout the game and you'll be hearing her a lot. The sound effects for weapons and enemies are adequate.

Overall 5/10
In more ways than one, this game is a massive disappointment. The game is playable, but in a series as outstanding as Metroid, it sticks out like a sore thumb, and even taken on its own terms it fails to impress. Other M is a rental at best. Only time will tell if the Metroid series can recover from this misfire of a game.


Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 09/09/10, Updated 09/10/10

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


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