Personally, I was extremely excited when Nintendo announced they were partnering with Team Ninja to develop Metroid: Other M. The trailer shown at E3 2009 floored me with its gorgeous presentation and focus on third person action; Metroid: Other M instantly became my most anticipated title. I’ve spent over 10 hours playing the game this past year and I really enjoyed my experience. However, it’s hard not to notice this game’s glaring flaw, its story. With that being said, let’s get to the biggest downfall of Metroid: Other M.
The game begins with a gorgeous cut-scene that shows the finale of Super Metroid, but soon switches to Samus Aran being awakened in a Galactic Federation facility. Samus is directed to a training room where she eventually receives a distress signal from the federation’s Bottle Ship. Samus goes to the Bottle Ship and meets up with members of the Galactic Federation, including Adam Malkovich. This is where Samus joins up with the federation to cooperate with their mission under Adam’s command. This is how the story begins, and brings me to a point that I’d like to defend. Samus agrees to cooperate with the federation, so having her obey Adam’s orders is a completely understandable and creative way to “unlock” items throughout the mission. I didn’t have a problem with this portion of the narrative.
While the game’s cut-scenes are gorgeous, I really couldn’t get into the plot. I found the mystery to be a little too vague at times, and when something was revealed, I didn’t care enough to fully understand it. It doesn’t help that most of the dialogue is boring, uninspired and poorly delivered. I have no problem with Samus speaking, or her voice actor for that matter, but the majority of the game was a convoluted, sci-fi mess. Fast forward to the ending’s “big reveal” and I’m left with the taste of disappointment in my mouth. That being said, Metroid: Other M does shine in almost every other area.
Metroid: Other M takes place on the aforementioned Bottle Ship. This Bottle Ship is broken up into numbered sectors which make the game more linear than its predecessors. There are a few areas that have some neatly hidden missile and energy tanks, but exploration is at a minimum. I don’t count this a flaw either; I tend to enjoy linear games more so than open-ended ones. I enjoyed the use each sector to replicate different environments including jungle and volcanic areas.
No matter which side of the argument you place yourself, Metroid: Other M manages to pull off a fun and compelling experience despite being weighed down with flaws.
Other M really embraces the third-person view and makes it work. It feels natural to walk around and fight enemies in this view. Also, because the game’s areas are enclosed, it makes the game feel close to the action of old Metroid titles; well, as close as you can get without being designed specifically as a sidescrolling game. Also making the third-person view work is the auto aim. Just face in the general direction of any enemy and begin shooting away. This might sound lame, but there is a bigger emphasis put on dodging enemies, so you still have to pay attention to what you’re doing. You can dodge enemies by pressing the D-Pad in any direction during their attack. This can be performed while shooting or charging your arm cannon. Other M also introduces flashy, melee finishing attacks that are automatically initiated when approaching a weakened enemy.
Metroid: Other M also explores first-person and over-the-shoulder views; one of these works fine while the other is completely irrelevant. During gameplay you initiate first-person mode by pointing the Wii Remote at the screen. You can only shoot missiles from this mode, something that becomes quite important during boss battles. Of course, the first-person view can also be initiated outside of battle and can be used to solve some of the game’s puzzles. I was only flustered with the first-person view during sections that forced you to scan for something before moving forward. Most of the time I couldn’t find what needed to be found and had to shamefully resort to a guide. Over-the-shoulder view on the other hand was just plain useless. I believe it was supposed to create immersion, but those sections felt empty and never amounted to anything, in my opinion.
Other M’s boss battles were pretty neat, but nothing really stands out as being extraordinary. I did thoroughly enjoy the gameplay as a whole though, because despite its flaws, Other M played like a Metroid game should. There was a focus on action, combat, and some minimal platforming, plus a lot of familiar weapons return. It would be silly to write off this game based on its story alone.
As I mentioned before, Metroid: Other M has gorgeous cut-scenes worthy of being amongst the best on any console. This gorgeous design flows over into the overall visuals which include its well-crafted environments and seemingly flawless animation. It’s nice to see the animation keep up with Samus’ agile movements; another complement to the artists and animators. Visuals aside, Other M has a competent soundtrack as well. There are some classic themes remixed in the game, plus there are new themes as well. These themes aren’t quite as memorable, but they do give off an eerie feeling which suits the overall atmosphere well.
No matter which side of the argument you place yourself, Metroid: Other M manages to pull off a fun and compelling experience despite being weighed down with flaws. If you come in for the story, you’ll leave disappointed, however, if you come to enjoy a new take on Metroid gameplay, you might end up enjoying yourself like I did.
Obtained by Purchase