The Gaming Guru Review of Metroid: Other M

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by TRACY-MARK GORGAS / Special contributor to NWCN.com

NWCN.com

Posted on October 15, 2010 at 11:32 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 28 at 10:24 AM

Hey, welcome back.  Today I’m reviewing Metroid: Other M.  Is the latest Metroid up to the standards of the Prime series?  Let’s take a look.

Story

The story takes place between Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion.  The opening cinematic shows Samus Aran defeating Mother Brain and escaping the exploding planet.  Samus recovers briefly on a Galactic Federation before flying off again.  Soon after leaving the ship she picks up a distress call known as a “Baby’s Cry” from a derelict ship.    Upon docking with the ship she finds a platoon of Galactic Federation soldiers already there.  The platoon includes Anthony Higgs and Adam Malkovich, her former commander.  She served with both in the Federation before she left to become a bounty hunter.

Adam initially does not trust Samus, but after helping the platoon defeat a strange creature he allows her to stay and help, under the condition she follow his orders.  He then has everyone split up and investigate the various sectors of the ship to find survivors and figure out what happened to the ship.

As the story progresses it take a few twists and turns, enough that I don’t want to spoil it for anyone any further.

Controls

The controls for Metroid: Other M are interesting.  You use a single Wii-mote to play both first and third person perspective play.  In first person mode you hold the Wii-mote normal with the infrared sensor pointed at the TV.  This mode allows you to scan rooms and to target and fire missiles at creatures, but you cannot move in this mode except for pivoting in place.  In the third person mode you hold the Wii-mote sideways with the directional pad under your left thumb and the “1” and “2” buttons under your right thumb.  This mode allows you to move around, jump and fire your beam weapon.

On paper this control method sounds a little clunky, but it actually works better than it sounds.  It does have some issues that need a little smoothing out though.  Transitioning between the two modes takes a few seconds, time enough that in combat, bad guys can usually get a free hit in on you.  The other issue is sometimes it doesn’t register that you have switched positions of the Wii-mote.  This usually happened to me switching from third to first person in combat, and losing the advantage I may have had.
Still I have to credit the developer, Team Ninja with coming up with a control scheme that allows for two modes of play in the game.

Gameplay

The gameplay of Metroid: Other M kind of melds the classic side scrolling of the original Metroids with the first person shooter of the Metroid Prime series.  With the exception of the control issues mentioned above it works well.  Exploring the station and figuring out puzzles to get to other areas are fun.  Its action and adventure with a little dash of detective work thrown in.

Graphics and Sound

It looks really good, very similar in style to the Prime series.  There are some touches that mark it as a Team Ninja game, soft focus on some of the cut scenes, and the fact that when Samus’ armor disappears she is wearing high heels.  At least there is no “jiggle technology” from the Dead or Alive series.

Audio is kind of a mixed bag.  They brought in voice actors and Samus speaks in this game, but the acting is kind of flat and stoic.  With the exception of some scenes, this woman of action is very unemotional.

Overall

This game is a hard one to like.  I loved the Metroid Prime series and this does have elements of it. The controls do kind of throw things off kilter, but they are usable when they work.  They are simple to learn, hard to master, and frustrating when they don’t work.  I died a few times while trying to figure out why I’m not in the mode I want to be in.

The story seemed a bit overly done.  On one hand they want to give you some back story for Samus to show she is the way she is, but some elements of the story go nowhere.  Add in the flat acting and it give you a perspective of Samus that just doesn’t seem to suit her.

One of the biggest problems for the game is a game breaking bug.  After defeating a monster in section three a door unlocks, but if you backtrack a bit without going through it right away, say to go to the nearest save point to recharge your shields, it will suddenly become permanently locked and you will not be able to complete the game. Currently Nintendo’s fix for this is to have you send in your Wii or SD card (depending on where your save game is stored) to them and they “fix” it.  In this day and age of the internet you would think they would be able to send out a patch via their own network.  There is a workaround as long as you haven’t gotten to that section yet.  If you did get to the point though you can either start over or send it in.

So while I did have fun, elements of the game made it frustrating.  I really had high hopes for the game and they kind of fell short.  The game gets 3 out of 5.

Metroid: Other M is rated T for Teen for Animated Blood, Violence.  It is available now exclusively for the Nintendo Wii.
 

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