Review by Celebi7242
"A jewel of a game? If and only if you count its scratches."
Metroid: Other M, eh? It's the Metroid series' second release of 2010, thus marking the twelfth game of the franchise. As the fans like to say about some of its entries, "Oh, that's a good game, but not a good Metroid game." Can Other M live up to the high standards of Metroid, or could it at least stand on its own? Well, let's find out.
This is a garbled, half-finished, poorly executed mess. Being that it is made up of flat characters and bad delivery, it couldn't be anything less.
To elaborate: there may as well be next to no characters in the story. Lyle, James, K.G., Anthony - all of these are barebones people we learn nothing about (and one of the is stereotyped, to boot). The plot likes to focus, most of the time, on Samus, her past, and her relationship with Adam. They're practically the only two characters in the game who even matter, and maybe not even then. Almost everything we learn is through Aran's monologuing, as there isn't much actual dialogue involved. Adam could be a faceless body, for what little characterization he gets (which suffers a cliche or two). Samus' voice and personality, too, are that of a white wall, and as a character, her decisions are questionable. She just goes along with whatever she's told to do, and this can and does slam into wallbanger territory a time or two. It's all about Adam, Adam, Adam - minus one or two cutscenes that feature one of the other drones placed into the setting.
What really goes on is that she wants to regain Adam's trust. This is all fine and dandy, except for when you look at the hoops she's willing to jump through to get there. As the main character, of a Metroid game no less, you would expect Samus to be making a lot of decisions and doing a lot of fighting and killing. The latter receives a yes. The former? Not so much, and the lack of her influence is surprising. You'd think that she would be making things happen without any sort of aid, because she's the player's character. But not here. Oh, not here.
Characters are and ever will be the most important thing in plot, and in this game, they're somehow all flat in certain aspects, some more than others. The dryness belonging to Samus Aran was a real disappointment to see, as it ripped away all of her previous mystique and left us with a basic heroine who does...well, not much of anything. Everyone else is as paper - wet paper, if the Federation troops are anything to go by.
This game has a couple of remixes, sure. That's almost where it ends - the rest of the music is, for the most part, ambient and nearly inaudible. If and when you hear it, it might be appreciable and it might not. The vast majority of it is forgettable anyway, but it's better than complete silence. Most of the soundtracks within hearing range are boss themes, a couple of which are likeable. The area music, however, which has always held some importance...just isn't there.
A few flaws keep it from perfection, but the control scheme is simple and easy to use. Fun, even - though navigating a 3D space with naught but a directional pad sounds like insanity, it's really not. Depending on the way you hold the Wii Remote, you can do different things. Holding it sideways is the default, allowing you to access most of the features - charge beams, morph ball, morph ball bombs, it's all there. Missiles, however, require a switch to first-person view via flipping the remote to point at the screen.
The transition isn't too bad, but the first-person view is somewhat limited. The manually aimed reticle can be 'sticky', as it likes to lock on to something when you want to look around. Most of the time, though, you'll be holding it two-handed, running around murdering what dares cross your path. For this, you can execute certain commands by way of a button press; one of these is the broken, broken Sense Move. Simply put, it is a dodge that can be done by tapping any direction on the D-Pad just before you're hit by an attack. It's exactly the opposite of hard to pull off, sometimes even unintentional. One thing that's for sure: some parts of the game absolutely require it to keep from getting killed, and if you're charging your beam while you do it, you get an instantly charged cannon. It's the one thing that makes the game not-so-fun to play, yet for many fights it happens to be almost a necessity. Sometimes it leaves one to wonder whatever happened to skill and good timing...
GRAPHICS/LEVEL DESIGN: 7/10
This is where Metroid: Other M really shines. The graphics are flat-out amazing, and might even make up for the hit that the level design takes. All the little effects such as rain, the 'frost' that ice so commonly exudes, snow, beam particles, lighting - it's all there. Team Ninja sure pulled their weight in this department, that's all I can say. Even if you ignore the fact that it's a Wii game, it still looks plenty awesome. If this is the capability of the engine...wow.
Level design doesn't offer much outside the norm: you have an ice/water area, a lava/desert area, a forest-like area, and the main sector of the so-called BOTTLE SHIP that you happen to be exploring, which amounts to "metal space station". They're pretty, but get stale after a while. Of note is the fact that Sector 1, bar a sole exception, is the sector that could be the most interesting. Terminals scattered around the environment allow you to play with the environment itself, by turning on/off various holograms that either make a room appear to be an endless swamp with sickly-looking, raining skies above it, or just a grassy, muddy, metal room with steel supports and objects laying around. An interesting little feature, nonetheless. It could have been in the other sectors as well, but they seem to have been overlooked.
This game doesn't have much to offer in the way of post-game appeal. There is a chance, at the very end, to run amok and collect all the powerups you want. However, getting 100% completion is fairly easy, and once you have it, there's not much to do outside of Hard Mode. You have some new options from the main menu, as well as a second title theme, but there's not much to go on. The difficulty and fun of extra run-throughs usually has to come from the player, via self-imposed challenges.
Final recommendation? Rent it. It may be a joy to play, but you can easily beat it within a few days, and after that, there's not much to do with it. Only if it's a must-have should you buy it.
As a closing note - why give the game so low a score, when the numbers don't add up? All because of its plot. That was the focus of Other M, before its release and now. To give us a good story, to live up to those expectations, is what it tried to do.
And where Other M tried, it failed.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 09/13/10
Game Release: Metroid: Other M (US, 08/31/10)
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