The last three console Metroid titles have been a great 2D to 3D translation of the series. The team at Retro Studios did the series justice with the three Metroid Prime games, and it has been three years since the trilogy finished. Now, the developers at Project M have taken their own take on the series with Metroid: Other M. How does it stack up with the incredible bar set? Does the latest console Metroid title meet the standards?
The story of Metroid: Other M takes place immediately after Super Metroid for the Super Nintendo, and it is told through some of the best cutscenes seen on Wii. The voice acting is a little stiff and the some of the voices could have been cast a little better, but it is as engaging as they come. Throughout the game, Metroid: Other M’s main protagonist, Samus Aran monologues to herself for a great deal of the story, and there are also a good handful of flashback sequences as well. You really get to know her character’s personality and history. It is safe to say that this title gives players the most in-depth look at Samus than in previous games.
The gameplay in Metroid: Other M deviates from the familiar controls of both the 2D and 3D Metroid games. Instead, we have here a new unique hybrid of third-person and first-person gameplay mechanics. When holding the Wii remote on its side, you’re put into 3rd person view. While in this view, Samus moves around in 3D areas where the cameras are fixed and an auto lock-on shooting mechanic is used. If you have Samus standing toward the direction where there are enemies, Samus’ shots will lock-on to those enemies and that’s when the rapid firing fun ensues. There are also some sweet-looking animations that takes place when close combat grab attacks are used. The fixed camera angles does get a bit awkward at times, but rarely interrupts the flow of the game. The game does a great job of recognizing when something will get in the way and makes that certain something transparent.
When pointing the remote towards the screen and sensor bar, you will be put into the game’s first-person view. You aim by pointing to where you want to shoot with the Wii pointer and holding the ‘B’ button let’s you explore all 360 degrees of Samus’ surroundings. Unfortunately, and this may be my biggest gripe with the game, you cannot move Samus at all while in this mode. Samus is stuck stationed as you point and shoot. There is already enough of a disconnect when switching between both views, but not being able to move takes the proverbial cake. You can also lock-on to enemies to shoot, which works well but is a bit clumsy and inaccurate when two enemies are too close to each other.
Another hiccup in regards to the first-person perspective are the instances in the game where you are forced to be in this view to search for a ‘clue’ or ‘key object.’ You are not allowed to move or move on until you point at the right place. It turns out that I spent more time at these points of the game than any other. There is no clear way to find the ‘clue’ or ‘key object.’ You’re stuck guessing and checking on what exactly you need to be pointing at. When completed, since the graphics are not the best in the world, you’re left thinking to yourself, “I guess I was supposed to point at this blob of ugly graphics instead of the other blob of ugly graphics.” It is very frustrating to say the least.
All the standard abilities found in Metroid titles are also found in Other M, including charge shots, morph ball and weapon upgrades. The system of progression in obtaining these abilities is one of the most uninspired and lazy systems I have ever seen. Basically, Samus is granted “authorization” of her already intact abilities when necessary. No need to defeat an enemy, no need to find the upgrade, or anything like that. You move far along in the game, and when the moment comes, you’re told you can use the latest ability. Simple as that. It is certainly something more refreshing than the classic “you lost all your abilities so you need to go collect them all again,” but this just feels silly. If I were Samus I would use all my abilities the moment I was about to die.
Metroid: Other M is definitely much more linear than the titles before it and also less challenging. There’s a lot less ‘forks in the road’ time around. The game is pretty straight-forward in letting you know where you should be going, and keeps branching off to different locations to a minimum. The game’s puzzles and challenges have also been toned down a bit. You use the various abilities you possess or have obtained to move on to the next area. The puzzles will stump you, but they just seem much easier to overcome than before. Perhaps I’m just getting smarter? However, what really makes the challenge in Other M feel like child’s play are the abilities to heal when you’re low on health and replenish missiles whenever you see fit. Both of these abilities are bound to be abused, and will leave you with almost no sense of danger or urgency.
So with all of this negative stuff listed above, what’s so good about Metroid: Other M? The action. Metroid: Other M is an action-packed experience that makes you want more. The enemies are satisfying to kill, the boss battles are epic, and boring is virtually non-existent. The action is best compared to that of which is seen in titles such as God of War. There is also plenty of variety in the enemies and boss battles, too.
I always feel that graphics and music are always very subjective so I’ll just say the following. Playing with widescreen in 480p, Metroid: Other M looks amazing, but made me hate Nintendo for the lack of HD support. I could only imagine how much more epic this game would have been without the graphical limitations of the Wii. The music is appropriate and I thoroughly enjoyed it throughout the game. Of course, there are redone versions of familiar Metroid tunes, which I enjoyed even more so.
Sure the game has more than a few gameplay flaws, but none of them break up the experience enough to keep you from having fun, and that’s what games are all about right? Fun? It also keeps me optimistic about the future of the series. Metroid: Other M is absolutely ambitious in every aspect of the game. Metroid: Other M may not be the most technically sound game, and to some fans, may not be anywhere close the standards set by the Metroid Prime series. However, what Metroid: Other M has done is take a familiar character and brought her into uncharted waters. Metroid: Other M experimented with so much, and hit much more than it missed. With a few tweaks, this game would have been perfection.
- Title: Metroid: Other M
- Platform Reviewed: Wii
- Developer: Project M
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Release Date: August 31, 2010
- MSRP: $49.99
- Review Copy Info: A review copy of this title was provided to DualShockers Inc. by the publisher for purposes of this review.