Review by SpiralSage
Metroid meets Ninja Gaiden. When I first heard that Team Ninja was behind the next Metroid game I was just stoked. I personally think that Team Ninja is a fantastic developer and I was anticipating how exactly they would pull this off. I had no doubt in my mind that they'd be able to pull it off.
Well, I guess they kind of pulled it off. Just not as well as I thought they would.
The overall story was fairly interesting too: directly after the events of Super Metroid, Samus responds to a distress signal coming from a Space Federation science station. She meets up with a group of soldiers from her past when she was part of the military and joins up with them to figure out what is happening in this facility. It eventually turns into a bit of a thriller mystery which is pretty cool-- but I will say right now the ending is a bit weak. It felt like they could have fleshed it out a bit near the end, the ending we got felt just tacked on. I won't spoil anything, but, yeah, don't come in expecting much.
Story wise, the game has started a lot of controversy. A lot of fans think that Samus in this game really kills off the "badass" personification she's had in the other games just how she acts in this one. I had no problem with her characterization in Other M. I found her character development to be actually quite fine. Seeing her exposed, seeing that shes a person with feelings other than "I need to kill every Metroid in the galaxy" to be quite refreshing. A lot of people will say they made her too frail, but I have to disagree.
The actual game play is pretty ho-hum. The third person "classic" game play is works, as it feels like Standard Metroid game play aside from the fact that Samus now has the ability to auto-lock on enemies and quickly dodge away from attacks. The Ninja Gaiden-styled finishing moves are also pretty cool the first few times you use them but get increasingly dull. Eventually, the basic game play becomes stale since there's no real point in fighting most enemies since enemies don't drop health or missile recovery items. You'll end up just speeding through most of the areas and only fighting enemies you're forced to fight. Theres a new nifty "concentration" move you can to replenish missile and health but of course you need to stand still in order to use it which can be incredibly frustrating when fighting a boss.
The whole switching from third to first person view is also a mixed bag. While its evident that Team Ninja really tried to make this competent, it's certainly not Prime. I didn't mind that you couldn't move in first person, but I found it incredibly hard to aim, shoot, and turn around to look around. There's an assortment of times where you'll be forced into the view to solve a puzzle or fight a boss, and its really not fun. I had originally heard that you could play through the entire game without having to use this mode. That was an outright lie. In fact, you can only use missiles in first person view. Meaning, you'll have to enter this mode for about every major boss fight.
The biggest issue I had with Other M is how un-Metroid it is. Samus doesn't gain her power ups by beating bosses or finding them. No, shes given permission to use them by the Commander in charge of the mission. So, basically you have every power up at your disposal, but you can't use them until he lets you. So, there's a part where you have to go to the standard lava area and you're constantly losing health. You'd think that the Commander would allow you to use the Varia suit as soon as you entered this area, right? Nope. You go through about 80% of the area and then he lets you use it right as you're about to fight the typical lava boss. This is how off it is. There are a couple other parts like this where you don't get the power up you need until after you've already passed the major area you needed it in for the first time.
Another issue how the game is set up; Its more like Metroid Fusion, where you have someone over your shoulder telling you exactly where to go next. The sense of exploration is further distorted and ruined by the fact that now you can see where missile and health tanks are on the map at the top right of the screen. In fact, the entire game has you following little yellow arrows to your next destination. Not to mention it seems every three or four rooms youll find yourself in another save room.
There are also these frustrating times where the story kicks in and youll have these parts where the game suddenly goes third person behind Samus (much like Gears of War or Resident Evil 4/5), she stiffs up, and you have to slowly tread through a number of doors before the game goes back to normal. Its all for the sake of the story, but these parts show up a number of times and I personally felt they lasted longer than they should have. Theres one moment in general that I swear lasts for about 7-9 rooms. I think it cheapened the overall experience.
Exploration, one of the biggest things Metroid is known for takes a major backseat in this game. The updated game play isn't the major game breaker; its the fact that the basic premise has been almost forgotten. I will mention that once you beat the game, you can actually play after the fact and do more exploring that you could during the main story. But, is that really a plus? "Oh, it plays like a Metroid game after you beat it" sounds pretty ridiculous to me.
The soundtrack is utterly forgettable and the graphics are standard Wii graphics. Nothing really stood out, nor did anything look or sound terrible. The cutscenes are absolutely amazing though. The first cutscene which recaps the end of Super Metroid was unbelievably awesome. There are a few more, but they seemed to have chosen some rather uninteresting times for some of the cutscenes. Lots of cutscenes from outside the space station, while not enough on centered on bosses. But that's a fairly minor complaint and really didn't affect what I thought of the game as a whole.
Its not a bad game, but it leaves much to be desired. I would suggest just picking up the Metroid Prime Trilogy considering its the same price and comes three excellent games instead of one fairly mediocre one. I'm not going to blame Team Ninja for their attempt, because I personally think they did a couple neat little things within the game, but part of me thinks they should have played a bit more of the source material before attempting to make a Metroid game. It isnt as ground breaking as Metroid Prime nor is it as remarkable as Super Metroid. Overall, its just nothing special.
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Product Release: Metroid: Other M (US, 08/31/10)
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