Metroid: Other M Review

Metroid: Other M is a dangerous game to write about. It will, and is already, creating a divide among Metroid and Nintendo fans. Some will enjoy the story-focused presentation and its heavy emphasis on action, while others will decry its departure from a moody, exploration-focused adventure. Is it worth all the interest? Has Team Ninja created a worthy Metroid experience, or have they created a Team Ninja action game, with Metroid clothing? The answer is a bit of both.

From the earliest trailers, Team Ninja made it clear that Other M was not Metroid Prime. The first time the game was shown, we saw Samus leaping from enemy to enemy like a certain sword-carrying Ninja. We learned that along with a new set of moves, Samus had also discovered a voice, a past, and a group of friends. Nintendo fans’ eyes darted left to right nervously, while longtime Metroid fans were already angry.

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The early outrage, is not entirely unnecessary. The focus on story was ultimately a bad choice, and giving Samus a voice changes the character. She is no longer the silent symbol of empowered videogame feminism, she is just a bounty hunter with a somewhat troubled past. That is not to imply that the story is all bad. Real things happen, with personal and emotional consequences, and there are a few twists, but in the end it just wasn’t worth all the mediocre voice acting and fancy cutscenes. When Samus’ story is a silent, lonely journey into the belly of an alien underworld, we leave with fuller appreciation for the journey she embarked on.

The other big change in Other M is the combat and gameplay perspective. It’s a sort of cross between Super Metroid, and Metroid Prime. It works for the most part in creating a compelling modern action experience with nostalgia imbued throughout. At its strongest, the game feels like a Super Metroid update when we view Samus from the side. At its worst it is still a damn fun game.

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The action is fast, cinematic, and consistent throughout. Rarely will you enter a room without having to set up your plan of attack. In previous Metroid entries, the action tended to be a little more spread out, giving boss encounters and heavy combat moments a greater sense of urgency. You won’t have the hours of of silent exploration in place to build up tension for the action releases in Metroid: Other M. Your finger will constantly be tapping away at the fire button.

In both action and exploration, you are required to often switch between third- and first-person perspectives. Third-person gameplay is handled by holding the Wii remote horizontally, while first-person is entered by simply pointing the Wii remote at the screen. This action works well, and feels fluid, but it sticks Samus’ feet to her current position. Having Samus immobile in the first-person perspective makes utilizing the specific actions of the viewpoint (firing missiles, revealing boss data, etc.) difficult to pull off. Everything done in third-person, though, feels great.

Action and story may have received a debatable boost in importance, but lonely exploration still exists. You are still exploring a mysterious derelict setting, and you are still collecting upgrades that allow you to progress further and further. Unfortunately this particula staple of Metroid gameplay, while still present, is handicapped by confusing choices.

Rather than finding new equipment and weapons, you are given approval to use your upgraded equipment by a commanding officer. The function of your equipment upgrading still works the same as previous Metroids. Rather than finding a physical object for your grappling hook tucked away in an obscure corner, for example, you find an area where you are given approval. This simply ruins one of the most important elements of Metroid games — rewards. Gaining new equipment for your detailed exploration was your incentive for searching, and for progressing. Now, you are given the impression that you have had the equipment all along, but had simply chosen not to use it. It hurts the exploration element of the game significantly, and makes the character seem weak and submissive. This is a direct contradiction of what we have always believed the kind of person Samus would be, and is also the opposite of the character created in the beginning of the game. Early cutscenes show Samus openly defying the orders of her commanding officer, and we are told of her exit from the Galactic Federation to go freelance, but here she is, doing what she is told. It’s simply a case of poor story planning.

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It’s unfortunate to consider the legacy in place before Other M. Super Metroid is often cited as the best game ever, and Metroid Prime has even been called the Citizen Kane of videogames, a claim that is difficult to argue against. Metroid: Other M set out to do Metroid a little bit different, and it works well in some cases, and fails in others. Team Ninja has created a great game, but only a pretty good Metroid title. I still recommend the game for any Metroid, or even non-Metroid fan, just don’t expect a perfect experience. Perhaps it’s unfair of us to place those kinds of expectations on the shoulders of Team Ninja, but if you’re dealing with a franchise that set the stage for what videogames are today, they must understand that perfect is what we’re going to expect.

4 out of 5


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Author: Kyle Hilliard View all posts by

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