Review by SilentWanderer
"Samus is back on a whole new adventure"
In E3 2009, Nintendo unveiled their latest Metroid project, Metroid: Other M. While it was seen that this title would return to somewhat more conventional and traditional roots, what struck everyone was that this game would be co-developed by Team Ninja/Tecmo. A little more than a year later, Metroid: Other M has been released and while most fans were skeptical at first, some have come to appreciate it while others have lambasted it. But is this game worth your fifty hard earned bucks? Read and find out.
Gameplay - 9/10
Metroid: Other M features two types of control schemes: normal view and first-person view. In normal view, the player can shoot with Samus's beam weapons, jump and turn into a morph ball among other things while playing from a somewhat 2D perspective. First-person view, on the other hand will permit the player to shoot missiles and scan items of interest while playing from a first-person view, much like with the Prime trilogy. In addition, this game also introduces the SenseMove feature, in which Samus can evade enemy attacks as well as the Lethal Strike and Overblast attacks, in which Samus will finish off an enemy or deal a greater amount of damage than usual. Another aspect of gameplay is that Adam, an important character in the game, must authorize Samus to use her weapons and other equipment. As a result, this tends to make the game linear. Whether or not this detracts from your fun is up to you. Personally, I had no problems with it.
The gameplay is one of this game's stronger points. Whether you play in normal view or first person view, the controls are simple and are easy to learn without much difficulty. As a result, this game is very fun to play. At the same time, this doesn't mean that the game is simple. Boss fights can be somewhat challenging and will most likely require you to use your weapons, although it really boils down to using beam shots and missiles. Something must be said about Lethal Strikes and Overblasts. I really like them as they are stylish and flashy. In addition, many of the game's tougher enemies can be dealt with using these attacks. As a result, this offers an additional dimension to combat and deviates a bit from the standard "spam your missiles/charge beam" mechanic. In addition, several of the series's staple upgrades are back, such as the speed booster, which has been given a nice polish. On that note, I have to remark that Samus is very agile in this game. Thus, combat is rather fast-paced, which is a good thing in action-adventure games like Metroid. That said, my only minor complaint with the gameplay is switching between the two modes of view. While this in itself is not troublesome, it can take some time to lock on to an enemy, at which the enemy creature can attack you. Furthermore, you can't move at all while in first person, although you can still dodge enemy attacks, so it's not too bad. Overall, the gameplay is nice.
From simply watching a trailer, you can tell that this game boasts some of the most pristine graphics on the Wii. This game features several CGI cutscenes that are used to build the game's plot. You can tell that Nintendo and Team Ninja put in significant effort to deliver these cinematic cutscenes. But let's go on to other graphical areas. Bosses and other formidable enemies make such dynamic entries that it's easy to remember that they can actually damage you during those "cutscenes." In addition, enemies look ferocious, from man-eating flies to feral beasts, this game does not fail in telling the player that these enemies aren't to be taken lightly, even though they may look cartoonish compared to the Metroid Prime's grittier art direction. Then there are the areas that you will go to. Without spoiling too much, you will go to parts, or sectors in the bottleship (the setting of the game) that resemble forests and volcanoes and snow covered mountains. Again, Nintendo and Team Ninja have gone out of their way to make these environments look amazing. Forests seem lush and verdant, volcanoes look bright and hot, etc. Not to mention that every sector has at least one large room that emphasizes the grandeur of those areas. And don't think the developers have forgotten that you're on a ship. The graphics also help in maintaining that image of an abandoned ship in disrepair. Some areas have overgrown roots tearing through the corridors. Others have damaged gadgetry and some rooms have broken glass. On top of that, we have these small subtle treats in Samus's combat. The camera will zoom in to show Samus killing an enemy with her lethal strike, the environment will appear blurry when Samus is dashing through with her Speed Booster, etc. The only small flaw here is that there is some small repetition in the scenery, notably in the corridors but by the time you progress through, you'll hardly notice it.
One of the key points of Metroid: Other M is that it has a discernible plot, which is unusual for the series, whose story is elaborated through text. The game takes place after Super Metroid and the opening cutscene explains the events of that game as to not alienate any newcomers. Basically, what happened is that Samus defeated Mother Brain, the main antagonist of Super Metorid, through the sacrifice of an infant Metroid that the former saved and bonded with. The death of that Metroid weighs heavy on Samus's conscious and is a critical plotpoint as she delivers her report to the Galactic Federation, an organization established to maintain peace throughout the galaxy. As she heads out, Samus receives a distress signal from the Bottleship, a craft originally designed to "sustain and study lifeforms in a variety of environments," code named "Baby's Cry," for the fact that it's meant to attract attention. Feeling that the signal was meant for her, Samus redirects her route towards the Bottleship. There, Samus finds that she is not alone as the Galactic Federation's Platoon 7 is there as well, headed by Commanding Officer Adam Malkovich, Samus's former superior. Other members include Anthony Higgs, (Samus's long-time friend) Lyle Smithsonian, Maurice Favreau, James Pierce and K.G. Misawa. They are there to investigate the distress signal as well as find any living staff members. What turns into a simple mission turns into something much more as it become quickly clear that there is something more dark and sinister dwelling within the innermost confines of the Bottleship.
The story behind Metroid: Other M has received a lot of controversy and polarized opinions. For the sake of a mostly fair review, I will not address these opinions. Metroid: Other M's story was designed to delve into Samus's past and develop her as a character. As a result, Samus in addition to other characters have voiced dialogue, which are more than adequate in my opinion. I also feel that there isn't much of a problem behind Samus's characterization. For the most part, Samus is depicted as a headstrong woman and moreover, the scenes depicting Samus's more vulnerable moments are well done. (Again, as to not spoil too much, I will not describe or discuss these scenes) In addition, there are a few twists in the story that aren't inane and the ending leaves a strong impact in my opinion. The only qualms I have with the story is that other than a few characters, everyone seems forgettable and even some of those characters don't get too much development. In addition, I thought that much of the story's plot is only tapped into at the final moments of the game. Of course, this may be attributed to how short the game is. But all in all, the story was pretty good.
One of the game's weaker points. Unfortunately, the game doesn't feature a vast soundtrack. Since the game takes place in a gloomy spaceship, I can understand that some of the areas are quiet in order to maintain that effect. Still, the game does feature some impressive, albeit limited tracks, most of which matches the environment's ambiance or mood. For example, while examining a creepily empty room, you may hear an eerie tune. There is also one song that most would agree on is a crowning moment of perfection. Since this would spoil a key point in the story, I won't go into it too much. Nevertheless, I would have liked to hear more than feet tapping as I went through the game's locales. But what is there is enjoyable, which is why the music gets a 7.
In this section, I would like to talk about two aspects: replayability and difficulty. After the end credits roll, there is still more to do on the bottleship which stretches the game a bit both content-wise and story-wise and offers a nice little treat at the end. However, the game is short, even by most standards and as a result doesn't feel as expansive as the Prime series although it does well enough. The game's lack of length IS balanced out by how fun or entertaining it is, meaning one can play the game multiple times.
As for difficulty, it is to me, one of the other weak points. The difficulty of this game can be unforgiving at times, especially to newcomers. Early in the game, enemies will deal a good amount of damage and there are parts that can instantly kill the player. Now this wouldn't be bad in itself if you could heal yourself frequently. Alas, this isn't the case. The only ways to heal yourself in this game is through saving (which will be required at points) or through concentration. Concentration is another gameplay mechanic that I put off until this section. With concentration, the player can restore his or her missiles and health, but there are a handful of flaws with it. First of all, while the player can restore his/her missiles at anytime, health can only be restored when health is critical. (a.k.a. flashing red) Secondly, concentration only restores a fraction of health, not all of it. Finally, for concentration to work, the player must be standing still. If s/he is attacked by an enemy, concentration will be disrupted. Furthermore, concentration requires a seemingly ridiculous amount of time to work. In other words, unless the player isn't facing any enemies or if said enemy is slow or in a situation where it can't attack, this method of restoring health is useless. Another slight pet peeve I have is that cutscenes where an enemy is about to attack, unless the player dodges the attack, s/he will take damage, which means that players will have to stay on their toes. Granted, the difficulty does lessen later on, but it can still get frustrating at points especially when s/he doesn't know what to do.
Overall, while Metroid: Other M doesn't feel as epic or expansive as other action-adventure titles, it is by no means boring. Easy controls and innovative combat makes the game fun. If you don't mind the general lack of music, slight difficulty and possibly "shortness," this is a worthwhile game. If you are still skeptical, I recommend at least renting it and if you happen to like it, I definitely recommend a buy.
Average score: 8/10
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/09/10
Game Release: Metroid: Other M (US, 08/31/10)
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