Nintendo Wii Reviews
Metroid: Other M Review (Wii)
By Hector Cortez Sep 6, 2010, 23:20 GMT
Metroid: Other M, at its core, stays true to its roots but also seeks to appease both sides of the gaming spectrum: casual and hardcore.
Review by Michael Barryte
Nintendo's Metroid series has always been a franchise based on risks. For example, Metroid II on Gameboy ditched the original's exploration element and instead focused more on combat. Similarly, the Metroid Prime trilogy threw side-scrolling out the window in exchange for a first-person experience. Lastly, Metroid Fusion expanded the mythos by giving Samus a voice and a past. Metroid: Other M for Nintendo Wii continues the risk-taking trend.
Having just defeated Mother Brain (Super Metroid), Samus now answers a distress call sent from the Bottle Ship, only to find that Galactic Federation troopers and her former commanding officer, Adam Malkovich, have answered the call as well. While the story elements are welcomed in demystifying Samus, sometimes things get a little too chatty and muddled in flashbacks, upsetting the game's pacing. Nintendo has always kept story in the wings with Metroid and Other M could be a testament as to why. The story also feels too similar to the experience Metroid Fusion offered: Adam, sectors mirroring environments, someone being hunted, conspiracy. With the exception of a few key moments, Other M's path feels very played out, leading to an unsubstantial conclusion.
Graphically, Other M dazzles. The atmosphere is everything one expects from a Metroid game. Once the Galatic Federation lets Samus on her merry way, the feeling of isolation creeps in beautifully. Environments are rich and counter the darker, organic feel of Metroid Prime, favoring a more lush and colorful feel similar to Metroid Fusion. The amount of care put into textures, bloom effects and every pre-rendered cut scene is astonishing. Overall, Other M is easily the most visually arresting game on the Wii.
Metroid: Other M's gameplay is a mixed bag. The game is controlled holding the Wii Remote in the classic horizontal style, but the player can also point at the screen to switch into first-person view, making Other M a Prime/Fusion cross-over. In third-person mode, Samus can auto-lock when running and gunning, while in first-person mode, she can scan doors and fire missiles. Other M shines during the action packed run-and-gun moments. It is when a first-person or over the shoulder perspective is forced upon the player that frustration begins to appear. At certain moments throughout the game these perspective changes don't go away until a certain item is scanned or a certain point is reached. Once the third-person game is back in play, the adrenaline hits at full force, especially since Team Ninja has introduced melee attacks which allows for Samus to perform a series of awesome finishers when she combines her charge beam with a series of moves. Also new to the series is a recharge function that will slowly charge Samus' health tank when the Wii remote is turned vertically. It's an all-or-nothing charge that ups the tension wonderfully when in the heat of battle.
These simplified gameplay mechanics are not without issue though. Switching from third to first-person view can result in disorientation or even the Wii not registering that the player is pointing at the screen -- delaying the transition and being the deciding factor between survival and the Game Over screen. Another issue is that while the camera is fairly intuitive, it is confined to a track of sorts. If Samus turns around and runs back down a corridor, it is impossible to know what is ahead of her, resulting in undeserved damage. Other M leans more towards the action genre; a good thing as platforming can be ruthless, especially when the camera makes gauging jumps a feat in itself. While all the moves are capable with only four buttons and the D-pad, the game would move more intuitively if given other control options and maybe even an analog stick.
Metroid: Other M, at its core, stays true to its roots but also seeks to appease both sides of the gaming spectrum: casual and hardcore. It keeps Samus on a linear leash, while still allowing for exploration and discovery. It is merciless in restoring health, but makes vanquishing a boss that much more rewarding. It is forward thinking in its cross-person perspective, but sometimes hinders its own pacing and performance. Overall, Nintendo and Team Ninja's Metroid: Other M should be celebrated for being so daring, even if the game may occasionally falter from the mark.