Review by geminidomino

"Deja Vu all over again"

I'll say this for Metroid: Other M: It's a lot more fun than the first time I played it. Of course, that's back when it was 2D and called "Metroid Fusion" so that's a pretty low bar to clear. Just like Fusion, Other M abandons the whole traditional point of Metroid games: exploration. Once again, you can't go anywhere until Adam tells you to (except this time it's the actual guy, not a snotty computer that Samus named after him), doors lock and unlock just to make sure the game stays nice and linear as you travel through a sectored space station with the "jungle", "ice" and "fire" sectors. Not much new in the way of critters, just mostly rehashes of monsters and bosses from Super Metroid. While it's cool to see some of them in 3D (I mention that later), it gets pretty old pretty quick.

Moving on to things that are actually new...

The third-person combat had me concerned since it was announced, but it actually came out OK, with the new moves and such. The only downside to third-person combat is that you can't use missiles. You have to go into first person for that, and it is bad. Very bad. "How long has this green milk been in the refrigerator" bad. Rotate the wiimote to point at the screen, lock on, fire missiles, switch back... Yeah, not a lot of fun during those frantic boss fights.

Long before you get to those boss fights, though, you'll already hate first person view because of the obligatory "first person searching" and "interactive cut-scenes" that someone thought would be a good idea. In WAY too many places, the game will just stop until you've looked around in first person and found whatever tiny detail it wanted you to find. "Pixel Hunting" is for ancient adventure games, not Metroid. And don't get too excited about what I call "interactive cutscenes," they're not as cool as they sound. Basically, if Samus hears a noise or is walking into a zone where she expects trouble, someone thought it would be "dramatic" if she walked reeeeallllly slooooooow until whatever obligatory critter popped out at her. The "interactivity" comes in where the player actually has to control this slow walking, even if the game only lets you go IN ONE DIRECTION. That's right, in several of these stupid things, there's only one path you can take (even moreso than the rest of the game) and it will simply ignore you if you push any of the other buttons. Whoever came up with these two mechanics needs to be fired. Into the sun.

Some folks are saying that the game should get some credit for getting a way from the "Samus takes a hit and loses all of her power ups" trope. I might agree with that, if the mechanic they DID use wasn't a hundred times as stupid as the "broken suit" explanation is cliched. Instead, Samus starts with AND keeps all her gear, but she just decides not to use it until she gets PERMISSION. And the guy who gives you permission is apparently too busy playing game boy, since, as a prime example, he tells you "Activate your Varia Suit to prevent heat damage," right AFTER you've spent a half-hour charging full-bore through fire caves not-so-slowly burning to death. Yeah, thanks a bunch, Adam.

And forget recharging by blowing stuff up in the room before the boss. Health/ammo pickups were abandoned in favor of the stupid "concentrate" mechanic... It works OK for missiles, since you can do it at any time. Unfortunately, you can only recover your health when you're borderline DEAD. In Metroid tradition, you used to be able to boss' shoot minions, fireballs, even the rocks for a quick boost of regen during the fight. Hell, even Kraid's spines in the original would drop then. Not here. If you're lucky, you're fighting somewhere where there is a passably "safe" spot where you can hide for the ten seconds of STANDING STILL it takes to recover one energy tank worth of life (expandable with pickups, admittedly, but by the end of the game, I had 2. ). Not that you can stand longer for more life. That's all you get.

Still, not ALL of it is bad. Other than the stupid "authorization" garbage, the characters are decently written and voiced (with some exceptions), and they're rendered beautifully, even on the Wii's "Low power" graphics. Some of the coolest moments in the game (which is actually kind of sad) is realizing that the 3D model you're looking at is what a monster from Metroid/Super Metroid looks like. It's vaguely satisfying. In truth, the whole purpose of the game seems to be to relate Samus' back story. And it does it pretty well. If the game offers nothing else, it deserves to exist solely for the glimpse it gives into the past of one of the series' staple characters (and I'm not talking about Samus!)

3/10 + 1 point for fan service and nice models.

Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 09/09/10

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

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