Games Meet Metal: Metroid Other M: Another Disturbying Review

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Metroid Other M: Another Disturbying Review

I talked it over with Riff and he wants me to take the take over writing a review of Metroid Other M for the site. I suggested we try doing recording a video of the two of us talking about what we liked and didn't, but the might Riff is a little busy these days. So, that will have to wait until we're a little more organized and I take it we'll have to test a few things first to get all the kinks out. Aaaaaaaaanyway, on to the review.

Metriod Other M is the latest game to be released in the Metroid franchise of video games. This game is meant to be a return to form after Retro Studios took the classic platforming of Super Metroid and turned it into a FPS/Platformer Hybrid type of game with the Metroid Prime Trilogy. I don't think this game was meant to disrespect those games as they were all critically and commercially acclaimed. Nintendo handed the game over to Team Ninja which I think surprised the hell out of a lot of people. Team Ninja is of course known for the Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive games. A lot of people cracked jokes that Samus would be getting larger breast enhancements instead of suit and weapons upgrades and I admit that I was really wary of what would happen to my beloved Samus this time around. So how did Team Ninja fair exactly? I'm glad you asked.

The game starts off with a cinematic recreating the final moments of the battle with Mother Brain in Super Metroid. Samus regains consciousness and asks herself why she is still alive, only to witness the Metroid she saved in Metroid 2 sacrifice itself to save Samus' life. I had goosebumps watching this. Super Metroid is my favourite game of all time and having memories of that game brought back in glorious cinematic fashion was amazing. After watching this I couldn't wait to start playing the game and take Samus through another labyrinth filled with creatures and mysteries around every corner.

Thankfully the game does not disappoint in that regard. The game feels really large and a lot of the puzzles got me scratching my head. I would just sit in a room for a few minutes watching things trying to figure out exactly what I needed to do. "Is that a door up there? Yes it is. Can I get there? I think so, but how?" is a very common conversation I would have with myself. I didn't notice how easy the Prime games were, but when everything is highlighted it's pretty easy to figure out what you need to do to continue on. Metroid Other M doesn't guide you in any way. They literally stick you in a room and force you to figure it out for yourself.

On the opposite side of things, the action in the game is very fast paced and really enjoyable. There are a lot of enemies to fight throughout the game and in true Team Ninja fashion the game makes you feel like a real badass. You'll fly through the air landing right on your opponents head only to blast that creature to death. The camera zooms in to show the ruthless moment in extreme close-up and the footage slows down to emphasize your badassery. In other games seeing this would become tiresome and you'd avoid killing enemies just so you wouldn't have to sit through another boring deathstroke. But in Other M, the killing blow is delivered very quickly allowing you to jump right back into action. The only fault I found with fighting enemies was the fact that there are no rewards to reap. You don't pick up energy or ammo deposits in the game so fighting the creatures is only to satisfy the sicko in you.

Boss battles are just as epic as fighting small time creatures. And again, because Other M doesn't baby you along the way, the boss fights include a lot of trail and error before you figure out exactly what you need to do to beat your foe. The game forces you to switch from 3rd person mode to 1st person mode for these fights which can become pretty hectic since you can't move while you're sitting there trying to target the creature. The switching functionality of the game works exceptionally well. To play the game you hold the controller in a "classic" style and when switching to 1st person all you have to do is point the remote at the screen. I figured it would be clunky as hell but it works really well and this is great because those boss battles can get pretty hairy.

The game isn't all sunshine and rainbows though. The story and voice acting is pretty mediocre at best. They tried to flesh out Samus by giving her a cliched backstory of being in the Galactic Federation army before becoming a Bounty Hunter. Naturally this comes in handy when she runs into her old squadron on the Bottle Ship (where the game takes place). It's too bad that Samus feels really bad when a lot of these characters are killed off and I couldn't really give a shit seeing how I just met them. I think the story would have been more enjoyable if they made us play out the backstory first, and then do this Bottle Ship stuff in a sequal or just made the game longer.

Also, there are a few moments in the game where they want you to sloooooowly explore your environment and they introduce Resident Evil-type thrills to throw you back into the action. This stuff was ridiculously tedious and I cringed everytime Samus would stop running in a room. Thankfully this only happens a few times throughout the game, but zero times would have been ideal.

And lastly there are a few parts that that switch to a 1st person view and force you to look around to find a clue that progesses the story. There are a few problems with this. 1.) Other M doesn't baby you, so they give you no clue to what you are actually looking for. 2.) That wouldn't be so bad if you weren't required to find the one pixel on the object your looking for. Normally you can just move your cursor around the screen and you'll eventually stumble on it. But in Other M you have to slowly scroll your cursor up and down which can take forever. 3.) No time out. If it takes you 10 minutes to find what you're looking for too effin bad for you. It would have been nice if they just showed the clue to you because after 10 minutes of trying to find this tiny little thing, you really don't care what you were doing to lead up to that part. Again, this mechanic doesn't show up very often in the game but when it does it's a real pain in the ass.

Other M took me a good chunk of time to finish and the game had a great balance of thought provoking puzzles and non-stop action sequences. After you play through the initial story you get to revisit the Bottle Ship to expand a few areas of the game and re-visit a classic boss from the past (and it is EPIC!). Ultimately the story is forgettable but if you really wanted to you can watch all of the cinematics in one shot with theater mode. My 6 year-old son really likes the Metroid games and he was drawn right into the story. Sadly I would play the game mostly when he was sleeping which means he missed a lot of the story, so this option is a nice little bonus for me. I have yet to try hard mode and I plan on tackling that in the next week or so.

So after all of that is the game worth it? Well, it's no Super Metroid and it isn't as good as the Prime Trilogy either. It's still a fun game to play through and I would recommend it to any die-hard Metroid fan. Some gamers would find some parts needlessly frustrating and I think that would turn them off from the game. For these gamers I would suggest renting the game for a week or so just to see what all the fuss is about. who knows, you might end up liking it and want to re-visit the old Metroid games.

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