Metroid: Other MESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Category: 3rd Person: Action
Developer: Team Ninja / Nintendo
Single player only
Uses Wii remote only. No nunchuck required.
Blends third and first person gameplay.
While the Metroid Prime series have been re-released on the Wii, Nintendo’s most recent Metroid game, Metroid: Other M, is the first “new” Metroid game for consoles since the Prime series was initially released on the GameCube. Other M also marks a return to the third person action gameplay that the original games back on NES and SNES were so well known for. Metroid fans have waited for quite a long time for a new game starring Samus, and with Team Ninja, the makers of the well received but ultra hard Ninja Gaiden games, behind the wheel things are looking promising for this series.
Graphically, Other M is as pretty of a Metroid game as you will see. Environments offer a decent amount of detail and things move along smoothly with little to no slow down. What the environments may lack pizazz is made up for with a really good amount of detail in the various characters and enemies. This is especially evident from the first person viewpoint.
Other M’s story is played out through quite a few cut scenes. I have to say that all of these are are absolutely top notch. Other M puts a big focus on Samus and the cut scenes really help to tell a great story. They manage to give Samus a real sense of human-ness and not just portray her simply someone in a cool suit. You will definitely appreciate all the work that went into the cut scenes and the quality and production values of them really shine through.
The majority of my gaming is done on the Xbox 360 and PS,3 so I have to admit that I kept wondering to myself just how amazing this game would be in high definition. Don’t get me wrong, the game looks good, but the thought of this game in HD was somewhat intriguing. Also noteworthy, maybe it was my TV, but overall things were a little dark for my liking and I wasn’t able to find a gamma or brightness adjustment at all. One thing this made me notice is a lack of dynamic lighting when you fire weapons. I thought this was pretty standard nowadays but I guess not. Too bad.
Metroid: Other M continues its strong showing when it comes to the game’s sound. Most impressive is the voice acting. There’s a ton of it for starters, which is something I always appreciate. Similar to how I mentioned the cut scenes really adding a more ‘human’ feeling to Samus and other characters, the voice acting in Other M does a fantastic job of painting a somewhat emotional atmosphere to the game. This is accompanied by a good soundtrack that’s not intrusive but enhances both the narrative in the cut scenes and adds drama to the gameplay. As for the sound effects that play out during gameplay, it is classic Metroid and many of the sounds are very recognizable. Finally, good surround sound support rounds things out.
Metroid: Other M is set after the end the events of Super Metroid in the SNES. After destroying Planet Zebes, Samus finds herself answering a distress call from a ship creatively named Bottle Ship. This is the setting of the game and the ship is broken down into various sectors which you explore. On Bottle Ship Samus encounters a group of Galactic Federation soldiers with whom she has past experience with, including their (and her former) commander. I’m not one for spoilers but the narrative is front and centre in this game and it doesn’t disappoint. Most of the story is told through ample cut scenes. There are more than I remember in the whole Prime series and, while frequent, they are spaced out well.
The biggest change from the last three Metroid games (all from the Prime series) is the view from which the game is played and how it controls. Other M plays out in a hybrid third and first person view. More interesting, it uses only the Wii remote which is held in the horizontal position. At first glance I wondered just how well this would work. Well, not only does this give things and old-school feel, this nunchuk-free control scheme works very, very well. You switch between the default third person view and first person by simply pointing the Wii remote at the screen. The game very smoothly transitions into a first person viewpoint familiar to those that have played the Prime games. In this mode you can’t move, but it allows you to look around environments, search objects, and engage enemies. This can be a little difficult at first when you are fighting enemies because it’s the only way to fire a missile and the fact you can’t evade, so you better make sure you have time and room to do it.
My only real complaint with the controls is with the third person movement. Diagonal directions could have been a whole lot smoother. Yes it is a pain to not be able to move in first person view at first. You’re expecting to be able to after playing the Prime games, but after getting a feel for things it becomes natural enough, almost adding a little strategy to things. You can’t simply stand there and bombard baddies with missiles. Also, the switch from third to first person view orients you towards where you were looking in third person. so it is very important to keep track of that. I found myself oriented the wrong way a little too often for my liking when fighting bad guys.
Thankfully the amount of scanning and searching of objects is greatly reduced to a minimum. I found this probably the most un-enjoyable part of the Prime games. It’s nice to see the focus back on action and even some platforming. You start the game with your standard blaster, missiles and morph-ball mode. Progression through the game gives you access to more and more powerful and useful weapons. Typically I wonder how characters in a game series like this one keep losing their powers, but this one makes sense and is supported by the good narrative that I referred to earlier.
There are plenty of boss fights. I’m not normally a fan of boss battles, primarily because I don’t like the trial and error repeats that seem to come along with them. It feels cheap to me. I have to say that Metroid:Other M’s boss battles aren’t all bad! What I liked most about them is that they offer enough clues to keep those frustrating repeats to a minimum.
There is no multiplayer to speak of but honestly that really didn’t bother me at all.
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