Review by Koelker12
Gameplay: Awesome. Story: Embarassing.
Lets get one thing out of the way: Metroid Other M is fun to play. There's classic Metroid item hunting, all your favorite power-ups, great bosses and some nice nods to the fans. The new gameplay style is fast paced and a blast to play. If you are a big fan of the series, stop listening to reviews and just buy it, you are bound to find some amusement.
Now on to the nitty-gritty.
Metroid is one of Nintendo's big franchises and as a result gets a considerable amount of love and polish. I honestly believe there is no such thing as a bad Metroid game, just like there's no such thing as a bad Zelda game (Cd-i abominations aside, of course). Trying to rank the best and worst of these series is like trying to sort out a handful of diamonds from biggest to smallest. The fact is they're all diamonds.
But if I had to rank Other M among the rest , I'd give it a solid seat right next to Metroid Prime: Hunters, (Hunters being the worst and Metroid Prime/Super Metroid being the best.) But unlike the dull and unexciting singleplayer gameplay experience that left many unsatisfied with Hunters, Other M manages to fall on its face in the story department. That's right, the story department; in a Metroid game.
The game was handed over to Team Ninja, the guys who gave us Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive, and ridiculous breast physics. Nintendo didn't let them give Samus the Team Ninja makeover in that department, though they did manage to give her quite a donk when in her Zero Suit, which they made sure was often.
The story has a heavy Japanese influence, so if you're not a fan of anime and its common mannerisms and overblown drama, you're probably not going to like the story. The writing, whether it is directly translated or not is painful to listen to. There were many times when I face-palmed in embarrassment, especially when a roommate would walk in and hear Samus giving one of her pathetic monologues, which is all the time.
For anyone who pictured Samus as a cold-hearted killer or a confident and quiet professional, prepare to be disappointed.
Giving her feelings isn't really the problem though, (she is human after all), but it's the personality they've given her. One minute she's force-feeding missiles down the throat of a flaming Cthulu and the next she is paralyzed with fear before the arch nemesis she has defeated a half-dozen times. It just doesn't make sense. The rest of the story had potential, but it's just poorly depicted. Most of it is just Metroid Fusion rehashed with different enemies, and the Adam story arc has a very disappointing revelation.
In this game, instead of Samus losing her powers through the normal explosion or stolen by an evil space-entity, Team Ninja tried to do something new. While I commend them for trying to find a realistic reason to give players the chance to hunt down the same power-ups for the umpteenth time, the reason they've chosen is just stupid. Samus, out of respect for her former service to Adam, chooses not to use any of her powers so that she doesn't injure any of the other soldiers. Not only is she rarely ever in contact with these others to pose any threat to them, there are times when Samus is dying and won't use a power to save herself until Adam says "hey stupid, use your such-and-such ability". I would have been fine with this is some of Samus more destructive abilities, like the Power-Bombs and Super Missiles had been disabled, and then we could have spent time finding new power-ups, (of which there are none.) But instead you lose everything down to your charge beam. I'd of much rather had Samus lose her powers in an explosion like every other installment.
Aside from all that, the part of the game you actually play is great. The camera is third person like the originals, but now Samus can move in three dimensions. The controls are all done with just the Wiimote, and while I think the better decision would have been to go with the nunchuk, the setup works. Moving is a tad clunky since you're limited to eight directions, but it never causes any needless frustration. The camera is set to certain angles depending on your location, but it works very well and gives some nice cinematic views on occasion. There's a button for shooting, jumping, and morphball. Everything else is context sensitive. A cool and handy dodge move can be used by tapping any direction a split second before you get your ass handed to you. You're going to be using this a lot as the enemies and battle are much more "close combat" and in-your-face than previous games. Finishing moves are also welcome. To inspect the area, (though there is no Prime-esque scanning) and to shoot missiles, you point the Wiimote at the screen. This works somewhat fine, but the game fails to tell you an important secret. While in first person mode, you can shake the Wiimote to use your dodge move. This makes the game 1000x less frustrating than it would have been otherwise. Luckily I discovered this on accident early and never found the perspective switch to be much of a problem, though I've heard from others about how horrible they thought it was.
The game isn't too long, I put in about eight hours to finish the story at a leisurely pace, and then spent about two more hours post-game collecting all the items I missed. Without an achievement system like the Xbox 360 or PS3, there isn't much reason to play the game again however. Getting all the items gets you some disappointing concept art and unlocks a hard mode. Beating hard mode gives you nothing, and there are no secret endings.
If I could give one score to Other M's gameplay, minus the story elements, I'd give the game a solid 9.0. Its classic Metroid fun, and a fresh take on a series that's already proven it can do things different. However, the story and dialogue are just so disappointing, that I must lower the final score to an 8.0. It's heartbreaking to think of how awesome the narrative could have been if the resources Nintendo used had been applied more effectively. Hopefully for the next game, we finally get an awesome sequel to Fusion where Samus is wanted by the Federation for blowing up their space station.
Minus her personality.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Metroid: Other M (US, 08/31/10)
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