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Bounty Hunter Samus Aran answers a distress call from a spaceship which appears to be deserted on arrival. A platoon of marines from The Galactic Federation who have also answered the call greet her in a less than friendly manner led by her former colleague Adam. After an attack by a hostile and mysterious alien force Adam reluctantly asks for Samus's help on the condition she follows his orders. What has happened to the crew, who are these strange aliens and where have they come from?
Metroid:Other M is finally a worthy successor and continuation of the Metroid series. Super Metroid for the Super Nintendo is arguably my favourite game of all time and as such I have been hyper critical of the various, often flawed Metroid releases since. Fortunately, Other M is finally a game that I can play without scowling at massive flaws in gameplay, plot or character.
Super Metroid combined a fascinating plot with a sprawling landscape and a perfect combination of two dimensional shooting and platform action. Other M does all this but drags the franchise into the 21st Century with a use of 3D and excellent graphics. That isn't a typo by the way, this a Wii game with superb graphics which would not look out of place on higher end systems like the Playstation 3 or Xbox 360. Graphically the game really is beautiful using shadowing and an anime style to provide an atmospheric and engrossing backdrop to your acrobatic exploits.
In fact the atmospherics of the game are perfect throughout with the spaceship suitably dark and vacuous while sometimes claustrophobic enough to make you feel like a character in an Alien movie. This is helped along by a very eerie musical score that cranks up the tension throughout the gameplay and the fact that you play a large portion of the game in third person. The third person viewpoint is perfect for the platform and shooting elements of the game and the camera angles rarely let you down allowing for some intuitive and often fast paced jump, roll and shoot gameplay. Samus as a character is hard as nails but this is the first Metroid title that makes more use of the fact that she is a woman. The strong narrative throughout explores her thoughts and fears without ever making her appear weak. Indeed the respect she garners from the platoon of marines she encounters shows how tough she really is and it is nice to see a gun toting female being treated seriously in a game.
The emphasis in Metroid titles has always been on exploration, weaponry and big boss battles and Other M continues in this vein. You are given clear checkpoints to aim for and gameplay is largely linear with you needing to complete a puzzle, kill certain foes or acquire a new weapon to progress. However, the linearity never becomes an issue thanks to the vastness of the explorable areas and the feeling of achievement you get when you do make it into a new area. The greatest strength and weakness of the Metroid series has always been figuring out how to move to the next bit and that remains so in Other M as often puzzles are so obscure or hidden from view that you can be scratching your head for hours. This does however, make it all the more rewarding when you do figure out and you will often find yourself feeling very silly when you realise that vent you past earlier was your escape route.
Samus remains a wonderfully diverse character control. The ability to run, jump, bounce off walls and morph into a ball at will opens up a whole range of platforming opportunities. This all before you even fire your gun which as an extension of Samus's arm feels instinctive. In fact, the control system on a whole feels very intuitive and simply using the Wiimote sideways rather than plugging in the nunchuk gives a real retro feel while allowing for some precision platform jumping and shooting. The game switches from 3D to 2D on occasion which is a great homage to the original games while also aiding the gameplay but perhaps my only gripe is the use of first person to fire missiles. You have to turn your Wiimote upright to go into first person and fire a missile at a door or alien as while as explore your environment more closely. This isn't as responsive as it should be and also often leaves you vulnerable to attack. Not so much a problem when you are blowing up a door but when you are expected to hit a sweet spot on a bad guy while dodging shots, it can be very frustrating.
However, this is a minor quibble and the actual interaction with the aliens is explosive and entertaining. Battles are a nice mix of intuitive blast and hope and combo moves with lethal strikes. The combat is a little automated as you don't need to aim particularly well to hit your target, but the last minute sidesteps and lethal headshots make for some scintillating gameplay with the now obligatory bullet time used to great effect. Of course, what every Metroid fan wants to see the most is ridiculously improbable, screen filling boss fights and Other M doesn't dissapoint. Some of the bosses are huge but refreshingly, they all provide a different challenge while still having that obvious weak spot to aim for.
You always feel like you are making progress in Other M and this is largely thanks to the intelligent use of cutscenes which drive the story along. It is also nice to see the human side of Samus being developed throughout and the cutscenes also often provide reward with Adam giving Samus permission to unlock another lethal weapon in her arsenal. Remember that doorway you couldn't get through before? You can now you have permission to blast it open with your super missile!
The learning curve on Other M is very steep and you might find yourself dying quite a lot initially. Fortunately, the save points are relatively frequent, although it is frustrating if you reset to have to wade through areas you have already traversed to get to that boss you just can't beat. However, all in all Metroid:Other M is an epic platformer that has a real old school, "one more go" feel to it. It can be frustrating, it is definitely hardcore but it is gaming as it should be with a kickass heroine to boot!
Metroid: Other M
September 3rd 2010 was the release date of Metroid: Other M for the Nintendo Wii, the latest instalment of the much loved and respected Nintendo series Metroid. Being the first Metroid game for some years to be under the direct development of Metroid co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto (the other creator being the legendary Gunpei Yokio) was a big deal and add to that the shock announcement that he would be working on the title in tandem with Team Ninja (Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive) meant a big degree of expectation for the title. Did Other M live up to it's hype? Let's find out.
The plot to Metroid: Other M is fairly straight forward, taking place an undetermined amount time after Super Metroid on the Super Nintendo but before the events of Metroid Fusion on the Gamboy Advance sees protagonist Samus Aran answering a distress signal from a drifting ship while travelling through space, after landing on the ship Samus finds that she is not alone with a platoon from the Galactic Federation who have also come to investigate the ship. Unfortunately the ship seems devoid of it's crew and infested by hostile creatures, as a result the Commanding Officer of the platoon (and Samus' former CO before becoming an independent bounty hunter) Adam Malkovich agrees to work with Samus to get to the bottom of what's going on. For the most part Other M focuses on Samus herself with the current state of the "Bottle ship" being divulged as Samus further explores the ship, Sakamoto has tried hard to put Samus' personality and humanity across in this game which was only really done in any real detail during Metroid Fusion (and to some extant in Super Metroid) which is a very good thing in my opinion, I feel the last thing Sakamoto should do is try to make one of the best characters in video games (and probably the best female character) Marcus Fenix (as much as I like Marcus Fenix...). The over-arching story, while not outstanding is what you may expect it to be considering this is a game where the main draw should be the gameplay, it's plausible enough to propel the characters to action and push the game along.
Now gameplay is where you'd expect not just an action game but an action game developed by Team Ninja to really stand out. The game takes place in a similar fashion to the older non-Prime Metroid games in the perspective sense, that being the fact that this game is third person with first person sections (it was the other way round in Prime) however unlike the older games Other M is not 2D, while it may be presented that way at times it is very much fully three dimensional. Exploration is handled in a rather simple style, for the most part the game is very linear with Samus' next destination shown on the map which can be accessed at any time with the push of the wiimote's + button. Every now and then inspection of a room or morph balling into a small tunnel will turn up a power up but that's about it as far as unsupervised exploration. Being an action game combat is the main aspect of gameplay, best described as a streamlined and simplified (not stupefied) version of a Ninja Gaiden game. Action is fast with Samus having to dispatch enemies with blasts from her arm cannon, she can also morph ball and lay bombs or jump on some creatures and blast away for extra damage."Lethal strike" or finishing attacks are also possible in this game which are preformed by approaching a downed enemy with a fully charged beam for some choreographed action, dodging is also possible with a timed press of the D-pad before an enemy's attack lands and Samus will enter a short slow motion dodge opening up the possibility for counter attacks. One part holding exploration and combat together is the first person sections, throughout the game there will be sections in which you will have to point the wiimote at the screen in order to enter first person perspective, normally this will be to look around a room to examine a particular point of interest or to lock onto switches for blasting. As far as combat goes first person is used for boss fights, general flow to boss encounters is that you will shoot away for a while until the boss shows some kind of weak point after which you will have to enter first person and lock onto said weak spot to do real damage. As far as gameplay the only major complaint for Other M is the first person, the idea for the most part seems pointless, to begin with is a little awkward changing position of the wiimote from horizontal to vertical and as the game progresses it merely becomes a time consuming chore however the simplified combat is very tight and surprisingly enjoyable. One fault which cannot be ignored however is a game breaking glitch which stops progression of the game by eternally locking a door which you have to pass to progress further in the game, brought about by backtracking during a certain point in the game as some online sources have purported means that while the linearity of this game means most won't get this glitch it just simply isn't up to standard. Considering the talent behind this game the fact that this glitch was not found is a big disappointment, thankfully as with most Metroid games completion doesn't take too long, (odd that I would consider that a good thing) we're talking eight to ten hours for the average person so you most likely won't lose much time and for those who don't want to play through again Nintendo (as of posting this) are willing to fix your glitched save for you if you send them it on a SD card.
Music and graphics are as you'd expect from a Metroid game, the music is suitably grafted to the environment with dark and sinister themes in the background to add to atmosphere and science fiction sound effects that wound fit to most people's imaginations of how a laser beam would sound like. Graphics are simple as you'd expect from the Wii but are still nice and shiny and it's also nice to see a wider range of palette colours other then grey and black in a video game.
Overall Metroid: Other M is a good attempt at bringing Metroid to a new audience while trying to please the old fans, the game has gotten a lot of negativity on the internet for numerous reasons, most of which I don't agree with and in some cases don't even see as a problem at all. While there is no doubt that Other M has it's weaknesses the Project M staff have done well to take an old fashioned concept like the 2D Metroid games and make it contemporary, it's simple play style is easy enough to pick up and play but still enjoyable enough to keep those of you at a higher skill level entertained till the end of the game. The development of Samus as a person that started in Super Metroid has been handled well, allowing her to keep her cool and hard lady persona while showing she's still human. If you don't like action games then don't buy Metroid: Other M, if you're a fan of Metroid or a Wii owner looking for a game worth adding to your collection then this is definitely for you.
At A Glance.
Gameplay ~ 8/10
Story ~ 7/10
Graphics ~ 7/10
Sound ~ 7/10
Replay Value ~ 6/10
Final Score: 34/50