Any objections, lady?
I've played every core Metroid game in existence (meaning all but Metroid Prime Pinball), and also consider myself a fan of the series. Therefore, I was pretty curious how well Team Ninja’s effort would pan out. Put bluntly, there are some interesting ideas here, but the execution is less than perfect, and Metroid: Other M is somewhat middling as both a Metroid game and as an action game.
When I think Metroid, I think exploration and item hunting. When I think Team Ninja, I think pure action. Other M is, at its core, a simple fusion of the two. It’s a straightforward action game with hidden goodies to collect, which for the most part works well. Samus has enough interesting combat abilities that translate well to third person action, and the various enemies (especially the bosses) are exciting to fight. It can also be rewarding to find those missile packs and energy tanks lying around. You'll constantly feel like you’re getting stronger, and it’s nice to be able to easily defeat enemies that once gave you a headache. At the same time, this is a mostly linear game with fairly bland environments. A big part of what makes item hunting fun to me is the simple act of exploring a sprawling, interesting world. You won’t find any of that here. This is about running through corridors from point A to point B, and keeping an eye out for shiny things along the way. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun to receive said items, only that I never felt compelled to go out of my way looking for them.
Other M’s biggest missteps, however, are a handful of control contrivances. First and foremost, this game absolutely needs analog control- I’ll never understand why this was omitted. Sure, the more 2D oriented areas feel fine, but whenever the game opens up into full 3D it just feels clunky. Combine this with having to turn the Wii Remote towards the screen to shoot missiles and I felt kind of handicapped at numerous points in the game. Whether I was jumping between platforms at awkward angles or alternating between third and first person perspectives while fighting fast enemies, I didn’t feel like I had as much control as I wanted. This is all a shame, as the combat mechanics are otherwise solid, and it all looks fantastic from top to bottom. Animations are smooth, Samus is finely detailed, and the cinematics are downright gorgeous at times. Last but not least, Other M puts a pretty heavy focus on narrative, which has never been true of either Team Ninja or Metroid games. That pedigree shows in the results, with bland writing and voice acting leading the way for a slow moving story that’s not very compelling. I particularly don’t like the way it portrays Samus’ character, but that’s perhaps a topic best left for another day.
I firmly believe that there’s a place in the world for an action heavy, narrative focused Metroid game. I also believe that Other M is not that game. There are plenty of neat ideas floating around, and the basic action is certainly serviceable enough. But the finer points of its item hunting, controls, and narrative are a bit rough around the edges, making Metroid: Other M a game that’s kind of hard to recommend one way or the other.
For additional information on my review style and scoring system, click here.