Metroid: Other M review
Two can be worse than one


Metroid: Other M promised a lot when first announced. It tantalised the newer fans with the interesting concept of the ability to instantaneously swap between first and third-person. It wafted a familiar smell toward the veterans, promising a gameplay with a return to roots. With something to keep everyone happy, it looked to be a very strong release. Sadly this is not the case, as Metroid: Other M back flips on the previous Prime series efforts to present a game that lacks that something special and will ultimately end up collecting the dust on your shelf. So where did it go so wrong for our blonde heroine from outer space?

The plot starts out simple enough; Samus is cruising around in her ship when she receives a distress call. Alarmed by the name of signal, she has a flashback to when the baby Metroid saved her from Mother Brain. She answers the call and lands on the Bottle Ship. Once onboard, it’s clear that something is wrong as Samus runs into a Galactic Federation squadron led by her former commander, Adam Malkovich. As they split up and explore the ship, it becomes clear that this will not be an easy mission. With team mates disappearing, old enemies resurfacing, and a ship that was home to illegal experiments, it doesn’t take long before Samus becomes suspicious about why the Galatic Federation, along with other things, are onboard this ship. As the game progresses, Samus is faced with not only the challenge of finding out what happened, but also the coming to terms with her own past.

Did it work, Doctor? Are my boobs bigger?

The coming to terms with her past is one of the major negatives for Other M. Team Ninja takes over, and Samus goes from strong heroine to weak female (or as some would say on Neoseeker: “a hopeless pair of boobs with legs”). Despite being a bounty hunter (as usual), Samus decides to team-up with the Galactic Federation, ultimately surrendering her independence as Adam wastes no time in beating down on her with his rules. Playing as a male-dominated Samus with a bigger rack is not fun, and sadly this dom-sub relationship detracts from the storyline and the gameplay, the latter of which I’ll explain later. And as for the double ending, don’t even get me started.

Compared to previous titles; Metroid: Other M is absolutely packed with storyline. Extensive use of cut scenes and twists sees Other M attempt to fill in the gaps left by previous titles (the game itself taking place between Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion) while also creating its own plot. Though the plot is fairly well written, the delivery is poor. Unlike previous Metroid games, where the player discovers pieces of the plot through exploration, Other M forces itself upon the player in an intrusive manner. Cut scene-after-cut scene is what you’ve signed up for, with one bordering no less than half an hour long, and you cannot skip through them. These lengthy cut scenes, which are hardly sporadic, make for a rather disruptive gameplay. There’s also the use of detective work puzzles which the player is forced to engage with in order to progress. Unable to move (this game sure likes to make you immobile), the player has to scan their surroundings in first-person in order to try and find whatever the game expects you to (which is sometimes obvious, and at other times a real pain in the ass) before initiating yet another cut scene before you can move on.

Make yourself useful Samus - go make me a sandwich.

This annoyance extends to the other puzzles within the game. They’re either boringly obvious or walkthrough-requiring hard. The lack of balance proves troublesome during gameplay, as you pause to use a walkthrough after scratching your head so much you’ve made a groove to match her new cleavage. With limited vision in third-person and a lack of want to use said third-person, you’ll often skip/ miss a lot of opportunities. And due to lack of motivation/encouragement to back-track in this game, the game loses a lot of potential replay and game length.

The gameplay itself is interesting, if a bit quirky. Playing in first-person is fun, and playing in third-person is fun, but when you’re in a situation where you have to swap between the two multiple times in quick succession, that’s when the control issues comes to light. To swap between the two perspectives, the player has to switch between the old-school horizontal controller-hold to the typical pointing-at-the-screen style. Not only does this take time to do, but swapping to first-person leaves you completely immobile, which forces you to use “sense” to dodge attacks, which ultimately cancels you out of first-person view. And as the use of missiles is only possible through first-person perspective, this becomes rather annoying as the game progresses and the difficulty level starts to take its toll. Although some would argue this is a case of “waiting for the opportune moment”, this is not always true, and you will often find yourself just sticking to third-person unless forced to swap, just to keep things simple and fluid.

Knew I shouldn't have changed perspective...

Other than the perspective issues, however, gameplay in Other M is relatively straight-forward, if a bit lacking. Samus can move in an eight-directional fashion, which works out rather well once you get used to doing it with the d-pad. You can make Samus dodge, which although suggested you do via the d-pad, is far easier by simply shaking the remote. Your targeting system is automatic, choosing the closest and biggest threat to you. This system is both a curse and a blessing, and is something you’ll be finding yourself trying to compensate for by running toward the enemy you want to dispatch first. The player also has no control over the camera angles, which can be an issue when enemies are behind you, but is to be expected due to the lack of Nunchuck.

The game tries to compensate for the annoyance of perspective switching with upgrades, which are achieved in two different fashions in Other M. The first is your typical pick-up, with various upgrades scattered around the maps like always. The other is through authorisation. This is because in Other M, you actually start off with every weapon available to you (and like in previous titles, they stack), it’s just you have to wait for woman-beater Adam to give you the a-okay (not to mention that he doesn’t give you permission for the last of the upgrades, the game simply expects you to guess you’re allowed). Though you still get upgrades on an as-you-need-them basis, it’s one of the several reasons (including the aforementioned story-acquisition) that reduce the level of exploration in this game compared to previous titles. Furthermore, upgrades are less interesting in this title in due to the fact that since you have all of them from the get-go, you do not see any physical changes to Samus throughout the game, removing the aesthetic feature of seeing Samus slowly transforming as you build her up.

The combat immersion, unlike many other aspects of this game, is actually a thrilling improvement. Other than the usual pew-pew-pew routine, we also get to enjoy such things as running Samus up to an enemy and have her jump onto their head before releasing a fully-charged beam shot right through their skull. Given the use of close-quarters finishing moves, and often engaging in dance-like gun fights with enemies, Other M offers up a vastly more varied style of fighting than previous titles.

Admit that Taylor Swift's music video is the best of all time!

Not to mention fairly decent enemy AI, seeing them able to dish out the damage both in style and in copious amounts. Enemies come in a great variety and actually pose more than a couple of second’s worth of easy obstacle. Though sadly, the same cannot be said for the bosses. They lack that sense of individuality and something interestingly unique to make them stand out. Some of them just feel like fillers more than anything, and there’s even a completely optional boss of ridiculously lame proportions. Their position in the storyline can be summarised as negligible, and if you’ve fought one you’ve basically fought them all.

Voice acting in this game is quite the mixed bag. On the one hand you have some pretty awesome vocals, such as Anthony Higgs and his typical cool-as-ice and hilariously funny Black guy attitude. And on the other, you have to suffer the monotonous voice-over of Samus on top of those aforementioned “whoops there goes a couple hours of your life” cut scenes. I know people say it’s because she’s recounting what occurred, but it sounds incredibly lame no matter which way you butter your bread. Give me back the silent hunter any day.

And accompanying the voice actors is a rather bland and average soundtrack. It’s easy to forget, and really lacks that feeling of grandeur/epicness that epitomised the Prime series. And due to the lack of exploration, and a lot more fighting, the soundtrack is shoved into the backseat and forced to shut up and be unnoticeable in favour of other game elements.

If only there was something to explore...

Although the cut scenes are annoying, they do at least look decent. If you’re wondering what most of their efforts went into when designing this game, look no further than the full length movie sprinkled throughout the title. And thankfully, the graphics throughout are decent. It keeps up the use of artistic flair in order to hide the somewhat lacking graphic capabilities of the Wii. Although some of the environmental textures were a bit grainy at times. The settings are an effective mix of an urban spaceship environment and the various simulation rooms, consisting of such vibrant and varied environments as snowy fields, desert plains and tropical rainforests. Not to mention sealing the deal with cut scenes which wouldn't look out of place at your local cinema.

In summarising Metroid: Other M, I’d have to call it an ambitious title. It wanted to achieve a lot, but lost in the process a lot of what made the previous titles so enjoyable. We get presented with a submissive Samus to play through a mostly fractured gameplay. Although the cut scenes are impressive, graphics will never make a game, and certainly will never make a Wii game. It does manage a successful implementation of a return to roots, along with some good elements such as plot and combat system, but the attempt to try and mash-up both older and newer Metroid styles didn’t come off the way they were planning and it plagues you for the entirety of the game. I feel if the game had been done in just first or third-person, as opposed to trying to make both coexist within the single title, it could've been really good. Being another edition in the very popular Metroid series, it’s still worth getting your hands on and taking it for a spin, but don’t go into it expecting as much as they originally hyped you up for.

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1 thumbs!
Quixotic Nov 10, 10
This game will be my first Metroid game for the Wii, and this review was very helpful and informative. Thank you, Dark Arcanine.
0 thumbs!
Dark Arcanine Nov 10, 10
I highly recommend you try and find Metroid Prime Trilogy next. I've played MP3 which is epicly awesome (and have also reviewed) and it also has 1 and 2 in it, which are also supposed to be very good games.
0 thumbs!
Quixotic Nov 10, 10
Ok, I'll try and find that too. Thank you for the recommendation.
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