Review by Archmonk Iga

Reviewed: 09/02/11

What should have been another Metroid masterpiece is marred by terrible storytelling and stupid controls

“Online community” sounds like such a positive, welcoming concept. Whether it’s about food, movies, or life in general, the internet has opened up the world for people to discuss whatever they’d like to discuss.

The fact is, never have I encountered so much negativity than on the internet. It is full of no-name people who you will never meet, hating on whatever it is you love. Without question, it is unavoidable if you belong to any online community. “Hey, that new Guacamole Whopper at Burger King is amazing!” “Actually it’s not. It’s overrated.” “So what do you all think of the new True Blood episode?” “I hate Sookie Stackhouse, she’s a dumb ***** who ruins the show and my life.”

I guess I’ll get to the point. Metroid: Other M is one of the MOST negatively talked about topics I’ve seen on an online community that I am a part of. Few people praise it, the rest hate on it. So here I am, one year after its release and FINALLY getting my chance to play it. And I can safely say this: I understand why people are so hard on it… but I also found myself putting hours of exploration into it, just like I have for all the other Metroids.

Other M really has two plots going on at the same time, both presented through lengthy cutscenes. One has to do with Samus and her once-commander, Adam Malkovich. The other is a mystery story behind strange occurrences on the “Bottleship.” Neither story is presented particularly well, unfortunately.

Samus has always been a tough-as-nails bounty hunter, intelligent and formidable on the intergalactic battlefield. She has an interesting history, held alongside an enormous legacy in the videogame world. In Other M, while she looks like her normal self in combat, during the cutscenes (did I mention they were lengthy?) she is insecure, weak-willed and whiny. In fact, I’d go as far to say she can act like a spoiled brat at some points. In one of the game’s MANY weakly written scenes, Adam Malkovich is addressing his squad in a flashback. As a salute, his squad all give him a thumbs up. When he’s finished talking, he turns his attention DIRECTLY to a young Samus, asking her, “Any objections, Lady?” With a pouty, scrunched up face, Samus gives a thumbs down. I mean, seriously? This chick is lame, bro. The daddy issues could have worked better. Hell, I actually bought the whole Ridley storyline, so the game gave Samus at least a little interesting substance (thankfully Ridley doesn’t speak so there wasn’t as much crappy writing to do for his scenes). But her relationship with Adam was hard to watch throughout the entire game.

The mystery side of our trip on the Bottleship is actually somewhat interesting, though once again you’ll be put off by the terrible script. There have been some biological experiments on this gigantic vessel, so Samus and Adam decide to work together to find out what is going on. It’s pretty standard for a Metroid game, but as usual it’s at least an intriguing mystery.
STORY: 5/10

Aside from Samus looking pretty cool (as usual), Other M’s visuals are weak. This is a surprise, since Prime 3 came out so long ago and it still looks great, plus Team Ninja are responsible for lots of games with amazing graphics. Environments have lots of blurry textures and are simply uninteresting to look at. The cinematic camera angles try to make them more than they really are, but I feel like we’ve seen all this before on the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube… and yes, I just compared the graphics in a Wii title to the three last-gen systems. Other M is a very dull looking game.

One of the best ways Other M reminds you that it is a Metroid game is with its soundtrack. A handful of classic tracks are redone for it, while maintaining a good current-gen feel. New tracks are strong as well, making all that backtracking worthwhile. Metroid’s music has always been great, and Other M is no exception.

With a whole new characterization of Samus comes a lot of voice acting, however. Samus’s voice actor, put simply, is God-awful. She sounds bored to say the least. It’s just so unconvincing… seriously, this is some of the worst voice acting I’ve heard in a long time. The other characters sound great too, which is weird. Combined with her terribly written lines, the voice acting brings this score down way more than it should.
SOUNDS: 5/10

The most significant aspect of Other M is in its unique controls. Holding the remote sideways like an NES controller, players can move Samus in the d-pad’s eight different directions. Jumping and shooting are as you’d expect with this control style, and Samus will auto-aim at onscreen enemies so long as she’s facing their general direction. Pointing the remote at the screen brings us to first-person view where Samus can see things from a different perspective as well as shoot missiles.

It is with this awkward and utterly stupid control style that Other M falls flat. First off, using the nunchuk would have made the controls way more fluid, since, y’know, every other game out there uses a joystick these days. The auto-aim mechanic is very broken too, since you can often see an enemy very clearly but Samus won’t aim for it. It also sucks how in these hectic battles you have to run towards the enemy for her to shoot at it. Why couldn’t it allow her to run backwards while continuing to shoot an enemy? It’s a bad idea to stand still in combat in Other M, so you’ll constantly be running in circles to get the damn auto-aim to cooperate. Possibly even worse is the first-person view, which is the ONLY method for shooting Samus’s missiles. Aside from the awkward transition from third-to-first person every time you point the remote, the fact that you cannot move while in it means that you’re a sitting duck way too often. Missiles are necessary for many of the beasts you encounter, so this control concept was just plain stupid. I say again… why no nunchuk?

Controls are the basis for any game. If they don’t work then the entire game won’t work. Other M offers lots of that classic Metroid exploration, intrigue and mystery throughout its gameplay. The boss fights are also very well-designed, as expected from a Metroid game. I often found myself glued to the game, ignoring the silly controls, because I wanted to discover all the secrets of the Bottleship. Other M maintains the heart of what Metroid is all about. But it’s hard to look past the odd controls, especially when they should have been so much better.

There is a lot to discover on the Bottleship even after Samus’s main mission is over. While the story alone will take barely over 12 hours, you can add many more to that once you start exploring the game for the rest of its secrets (there are some great hidden bosses too). There’s also an unforgiving (and unrewarding) hard mode for the handful of people who just can’t get enough of Other M. One of the great things about this game is the simple fact that it’s a Metroid game: there is a LOT to explore.

Other M was often a joy to play. Exploring the strange ship, making Samus stronger with every upgrade and taking down gigantic bosses is almost as fun now as it was for Samus’s previous missions. But the terrible controls make it significantly less fun, and the pitiful creature they turned Samus into for its poorly presented story make it by far the worst Metroid to come out so far. Besides some of the classic Metroid gameplay, Other M offers absolutely nothing outstanding for even the biggest fan of the series.
OVERALL: 5.2/10

Thanks for reading =)

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

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

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