Review – Metroid: Other M [Wii]

Posted: February 27, 2012 in Reviews, Wii

Under a team collaboration of Team Ninja and Nintendo, Metroid Other M is the latest in the series but set after the events of Super Metroid and before Metroid Fusion. Many people had high expectations of the game, not sure of what we wanted but sure on what we didn’t want. Does this game dash our expectations? I’d have to say yes. Still unsure of what I would’ve liked to have seen at the beginning, as play continued I grew to recognise aspects I knew I didn’t want to see.

I was always dubious with the plan to use the D-pad for the navigating of a 3D environment having had experience of it with a past game (Planet 51) and feared the worst, but was pleasantly surprised along with everyone else with how well it handled. This is mainly because the camera does most of the work for you. You can press up and the camera will fly around you, yet you’ll still travel in the same direction. Convenient? Very. Representative of how D-pad really works in 3D? No. But it’s a ‘no’ to be thankful for.

Some aspects seem to have been added for the sole purpose of extending the game time, which is sad to say, rather short. One example is portions which I call “forced walking”. The game slows down for an third person perspective where Samus takes up a lot of the screen as you’re forced to walk, at times for no reason such as exploring the toilets (Which actually highlights the actual annoyance of D-pad in 3D since there’s no camera assistance). Other occasions see you only able to walk forward, something which could easily have been conveyed in a cutscene. Naturally if you wish to for the full 100% it would take more time. I managed to clock up 100% items (With some help I will admit) in less than 13 hours. Hard Mode is available after this, where there are no items to collect.

With the mention of cutscenes, a fair few have been added to breathe life into the conspiracy riddled storyline, which is quite decent compared to other Metroid titles which mainly consisted of “explore this place” and being left to your own devices. Although some may have been a bit long they do give you an insight into the personality and history of Samus, who is more emotional than previously thought. Brought to you by the vocal talent of the new voice of Samus, Jessica Martin does an alright job channelling Samus’ newfound sentimental feelings into each cutscene.

The storyline seems to compliment the fact that Samus hasn’t lost all her weapons and other gadgets which would normally happen around the beginning of the game and part of the exploration and fun is recovering your lost gear. I was waiting for this moment to happen and my big hunt to begin but it was not to be. Instead you have everything you need; you’re just not allowed to use it until Commanding Officer Adam Malcovich says so. This proves some elements frustrating as you know you could get behind that door, not because you haven’t killed a boss who is guarding the relevant item in a satisfying battle but because you haven’t been told you can use it. As many fans of the series will know, the Varia Suit is what Samus uses to resist heat damage, something which saps your life when you enter a lava filled environment. You find yourself running through a hot area having your life drained until Adam tells you you’re “authorised” to use the Varia Suit, which can’t help but make you feel angry.

Graphically it looks rather slick, though some pieces of the scenery look a little blocky in their textures. Samus’ armour shines in the light and computer terminals flicker with damage nicely. All the standard Metroid areas are there: You’ve got your fire area, ice area, plant area among others all held together by the technological corridors of a seemingly abandoned space station. Depressingly so it all feels a bit linear in its design, with the only exceptions mainly consisting of grabbing an expansion item. Sadly these are normally in a room right next to where you have to go through, which means you don’t stray too far from the beaten track but cuts down on exploration dramatically. It also doesn’t help the situation by hampering you with invisible walls in many locations.

With all these different sections you’d expect a pretty varied soundtrack? Another disappointment I’m afraid. Background music is practically non-existent in the majority of the gameplay. Only two main parts seem to get the full musical treatment. One are the boss battles, second is the briefing theme which plays each time you reload your save file and gives you a breakdown of the story thus far. Catchy as these tracks are, they only accommodate a fraction of the game. The rest you’re treated to the sound of footsteps and beam fire. It’s understandable that it may be trying to emulate the isolation of deep space but there’s a line between that and dull, which Other M is on the wrong side of.

Going into first person whenever you like was a nice touch, although you’ll find yourself telling yourselves to stop trying to scan everything as you would in the Prime Trilogy. A negative quality would be that it roots you to the spot, leaving you quite vulnerable unless you’re shooting at something far away. I would’ve loved to have strafed around the enemy shooting it as I go a lá Prime. Sadly it was not to be. Shaking the remote when an enemy is about to strike will cause Samus to dodge and then turn to face the enemy with an ultra-smooth transition from first-to-third-then-back-to-first-person. You can’t even shoot your normal beam while locked on which the privilege is reserved only for missiles. Thankfully you can replenish them easily with the Concentration feature. When health is low it can be used to replenish your health but the only time you’ll really need to do that is when you’re being overrun by enemies. Concentration in Other M requires you to stand still and hope one of the enemies doesn’t lunge forward for the killer blow.

On the whole it isn’t a bad game, but it isn’t a great game either. As Metroid games go it is rather average. The same chilling feeling isn’t there like Super Metroid or Metroid Prime, even with the twisty storyline. I would recommend it to Metroid fans, but for the newcomers to the series I’d ask them to step back in time and try one of the earlier games like Super Metroid (My personal favourite). It’d make more sense to the storyline at least.

Gameplay 4/5
Playability 4/5
Sound 3/5
Graphics 3/5
Lifespan 3/5

Pr0’s
A] Challenging gameplay
B] Amazing cutscenes developing the history of Samus

Cons
A] Too short
B] Sadly too linear
C] Sub-par soundtrack

TOTAL

6/10

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