Review by CoachDozier
Beautiful Visuals, But More Movie Than Game
When I first purchased Metroid: Other M and saw how badly it was slammed by critics and fans alike, I was very defensive of many aspects of it. I got the sense that players were more upset that Samus' true personality was revealed. My general opinion was that some players looked at her in a sexist fashion and considered this story more like a Lifetime movie of the week than an action game. I might be inclined to agree, but I don't think this story tainted her at all.
After getting some time and distance from the experience, I think my bias has slipped away adequately enough to be fair on its flaws. As a way to blend the success of the Metroid Prime series with the side-scrolling concept of the original entries of the franchise, I thought that it did a wonderful job visually. My only true issue with the game in hindsight was that it was too linear and did too much of the work for its player. Not unlike animated movie games such as Dragon's Lair or Space Ace, so many of the actions in the game were initiated by a notice for the player to hit one of the minimal buttons in the game, such as during boss battles. When a boss was at a weak point, you could create a number of scenes that made boss battles more cinematic. The drawback was that it also made them easier, taking the game play almost completely out of the hands of the player for the number of seconds these scenes played out. Mind you, not every player of the game would see these scenes because they could be skipped in some cases or play out slightly differently. Part of the charm was doing what the game told you to do at the precise moment so that you could see Samus perform some amazing acrobatic feat to do stunning damage to a boss... but it still was something you were intended to watch rather than to do yourself. These actions reflect in the theater section of the game. If you choose to watch the game as a movie, then Samus' special attacks will be performed during boss battles if you pushed the button when you were told... but they will be skipped if you missed them, essentially cutting down the length of the movie by seconds at a time. Removing power-ups from enemy kills and allowing weapon recharging without any limitations also took away a great deal of the challenge that the Metroid franchise typically offers. Keeping an eye on weapons in older games was important, and sometimes you would find yourself backtracking to refill your energy. Other M made it so that you could keep moving forward and almost never look back.
Every reviewer and their mother has talked about the shaky Wiimote controls with missile firing, so I don't see much of a point in mentioning it. Although it seemed like an experiment that wasn't fully complete, I thought it added a little more challenge to the game when so much of the challenge was missing elsewhere.
All in all, this truly is more of a movie than a game. It did what it set out to do in telling a story from Samus' past, and it made for a high quality flashback to the story of Metroid Fusion. Unfortunately, I would say it has the least replay value of any Metroid game. I could see myself going back to watch the full movie version once in a while, but watching the movie would sate almost any desire to play the actual game from start to finish. It delivered in the visuals department, but it lacked something in the hands-on experience.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Metroid: Other M (US, 08/31/10)
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