Review by GreenEarthPFC

"An experiment with its own successes and failures."

It's hard to accept change. It's hard to watch stagnation, too. You have to balance changing just enough while not sticking to the same over and over again. If we only fought Ridley, Draygon, Mother Brain, and Kraid over and over and over again, we would surely have stopped playing Metroid at Super Metroid because of three games worth of 'pretty much the same'.

Metroid didn't fall prey to that, though. They've changed bosses and changed how gameplay mechanics interact with each other in order to ensure that things stay interesting. Metroid: Other M changed things too, and it left many things the same. The most striking change is either gameplay or the fact that Samus speaks. That's right, gents who are late to the boat: Samus monologues at the game's opening and she has dialogue throughout the game. Not just grunts or text in text boxes; she talks. This has stirred up a hornet's nest and a half: Samus talks and has a personality that can be construed as girly.

Me? I am of mixed feelings. Yes, I always thought Samus Aran was one of the guys: she kicked bad guy tail, smoked cigars, and she'd pound back forties until she didn't know what she went to bed with. In any case, when I heard her refer to the 'baby metroid' as 'the baby' and question herself in the introduction, I wondered: was she weak or did this add character? At that point I didn't know, because it's hard to get more than a first impression in the opening line. Now, I'd like to think, having seen what I've seen, that the characterization gives her some realism. Others would disagree and some would agree, but this is a game review, not a discussion of characterization.

Before you get to the 'Bottle Ship', where Samus will be fighting monsters and exploring in this installment of the Metroid series, you are put through a training program that takes place after Samus beats Mother Brain on Zebes and escapes with her life. The most radical change to game play besides third person perspective in a three dimensional environment must be 'sense-move'. Sense-move is a dodge roll technique you can use when you're about to be hit by an enemy attack, which reduces your vulnerability to enemy attacks drastically. Unlike two dimensional installments where the screen could be LITTERED with projectiles and 'dangerzones', Samus can actually demonstrate her physical fitness and training by dodging an attack. I was amazed. It was MY BIGGEST FRUSTRATION with the Metroid series that Samus was supposed to be stronger and faster than a normal human but her mobility relative to enemy attacks was pathetic. However, Samus seems to have definitely hit the gym; she can dodge like a pro and moves like she has to be somewhere instead of practically falling all over herself to get hit like in previous installments.

Now, however, your options in combat are drastically increased. From the third person perspective you can shoot enemies, jump on their backs to make 'CQC' attacks, and deliver devastating finishing moves. However, if you point the wii-mote at the screen, you can aim your attacks at weakpoints and unleash missiles. That feature, unfortunately, comes with some drawbacks; it's the only way (that I know of) to fire missiles and your mobility is limited to sense-moves while you are in first person view. I did not know this when I was first playing the game and had to do some rather dodgy switches from first to third and back again to get off some of those trickier missile shots. This can be problematic for gamers who have issues with the positioning of their sensor bar, because lock-ons can be difficult with enemies that move around a bit. My issues were minor, but I'm a fairly experienced gamer and I just had to sit down to use my sensor bar properly. A gripe of mine that is major AND related to gameplay, however, is the 'pixel hunts' where you have to look for whatever the game wants you to look for in first person view. It can be very difficult to find what you're looking for when you are told specifically what to look for and sometimes you have no indication of what to look for.

In closing, I'd like to make a few more points. This game is NOT an exploration simulator: you are told where you need to go and you don't need to be Indiana Jones or Lewis and Clark to find the way there. A small child or someone who isn't used to Metroid will be stumped, but most people will be able to figure things out if they are observant. Metroid Fans who are used to speed running the older Metroids will blow through it. The hardest puzzle is something of a realization that you will have to come to by yourself during the end. I think Metroid fans and people who have never played a video game before can pick this game up and really like it, even if I don't think it'll be the shining standard that will define Nintendo's success story for the next decade. If you have the money to rent it, I would definitely recommend picking it up. If you really like action games, especially games made by Team Ninja, I would recommend that you purchase it.

Have fun, and see ya next mission!

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 09/09/10

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

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