M is for Metroid?
Metroid: Other M has been one of the more divisive games to have come out in 2010. The game has been called brilliant by some and sexist by others.
Other M takes place immediately after Super Metroid. Samus gets a distress signal from a frigate called the Bottleship. Once she lands on the ship to investigate, she realizes that the Galactic Federation is already on board. Not only that, but it just so happens to be her she was assigned to when she was part of the Federation. Samus agrees to work with her old crew in order to unearth the mystery of the distress signal.
First off, the graphics are beautiful…easily one of, if not the best looking Wii game out right now. The game runs at a silky smooth framerate and I haven’t come across a hint of slowdown. The level design can look simplistic judging by the overlay of the map but has enough turns, secret areas, and visual variety to keep you guessing.
The camera system in this game is absolutely perfect. I haven’t had one instance where the camera wasn’t where it should have been. Considering so many 3D games have had this issue, it’s nice to see Other M handle this oft mishandled aspect swimmingly. The game will often times switch perspectives on the fly, so one minute you'll be playing the game via a side scrolling perspective while other times the camera angle will change to an isometric view. This touch keeps the game's visual style fresh.
I honestly don’t find the controls that hard to deal with. Yes they can be at times clumsy, but I kind of liked switching from first person to third person to shoot missiles. The game has an incredibly generous amount of auto aim which helps when things get frantic in first person. As long as you can remember that Samus will aim in first person at the last place you were looking at in third person, you shouldn’t get too disoriented.
The one complaint I do have with the choice of control scheme is the game forcing you to press down B to free look when in first person. I find this to be pointless and should have just been that way automatically. As is, I end up always hold down the B trigger when I aim in first person to help with auto aiming the bosses and aiming at objects of interest.
It’s also kind of awkward to let go of the D-pad in order to morph into a ball. Sometimes I’ll bring my right hand over to press the A button, but that really isn’t any less awkward. It’s a minor quibble, but still something worth mentioning.
As far as gameplay, I really like what Team Ninja did. It’s 2D metroid on a 3D plane and a welcome change of pace from the slower Metroid Prime.
If you've ever played a Metroid game that gameplay structure should be familiar to you. You obtain different abilities as you progress through the game that will help you access areas that were previously inaccessible.
There is a generous amount of auto aim in third person but once you get the hang of how it works, you can use it to your advantage. The pace is frantic without going into Ninja Gaiden levels of frustration and difficulty. You can see that Team Ninja and Nintendo's approach was to make the game more accessible to everyone. I can see my 8 year old son playing this and having a blast, which is more than what I can say for the Prime series.
The platforming works well here and you never feel like you are fighting against the controls while jumping from ledge to ledge.
Now onto the story, probably the most controversial aspect of this game amongst reviewers and gamers alike. it seems like the narrative isn’t getting a fair shake since this is the first Metroid game with a proper story (with cutscenes and tons of VO work).
I’m honestly not seeing how sexist the plot is quite yet. Everyone keeps saying how weak and submissive Samus is in this story, but most of that is told via flashbacks of when she was a teenager. Sure you can hear her inner monologue but it’s a welcome change from the minimalist approach that the Prime series has taken to story.
Despite the fact that Samus has always been the silent type, it seems that everyone has forced this badass, doesn’t take shit from anyone personality onto the character. Most people have taken issue that Samus exhibits personality traits to the contrary.
I think this is kind of unfair considering that the Metroid universe really isn’t all that fleshed out. It seems like some people had certain expectations of what the character should be like and when those expectations weren’t met, they decided that the game's story isn’t worth experiencing.
Sure some of the dialogue can come off as hokey and there’s a few things you can tell probably came off better in its native Japanese language, but I haven’t seen anything that turned me completely off to the story.
Another issue some are having with the plot is that Samus is taking orders from Adam because she chose to join his squad and he states that he has to authorize weapon use before they can be used. Apparently some people thought this was a contrived way to take away Samus abilities, but Adam explicitly says not to use power bombs because she could accidentally vaporize every human in the vicinity and that other weapons will be authorized after analysis of the station. To be honest, that’s a good enough reason for me.
The one spot where Nintendo did shoot themselves in the foot is when Samus is in the lava sections and is taking damage for quite some time before Adam chimes in and "authorizes" the use of her body suit. This would have came off much better if he authorized it from the beginning but as is, it felt very contrived.
Overall, it was a decent story that should have been told better. The voice acting was good although I think that whoever voiced Samus was probably given poor direction for the character's performance. It just seemed like she was supposed to sound distant, but they went too far with it.