Giant Bomb Review

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Metroid: Other M Review

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  • Wii

Samus Aran's transition to fast-paced third-person action is mostly a smooth one.


 Meet Samus Aran, action heroine.     
My history with Metroid goes all the way back to some kid telling me about Justin Bailey on the playground in grade school, which means I've spent over two decades exploring remote alien caverns, hunting down energy tanks, rolling up into a ball to drop bombs, and shooting missiles at Ridley, Kraid, and Mother Brain. (Suddenly I feel very old.) All that is to say that, while I didn't necessarily expect Metroid: Other M to be a great game, I certainly wanted it to be one. And it is really good, when its occasionally clumsy controls aren't getting in the way of your ability to enjoy it. Luckily, those moments occur a lot less frequently than the ones that make this game satisfying in all the same ways those old Metroid games were.

(If the name "Justin Bailey" still pleasurably tweaks the nostalgia center of your brain, just get Other M. It's so rife with Metroid fan service that you won't want to skip it, whatever occasional issues may exist with the gameplay. But more on that later.)

Other M is a Metroid game filtered through the rigorous character-action lens of Tecmo's Team Ninja, but this isn't just Ninja Gaiden with Samus Aran swapped in for Ryu Hayabusa. It's a strange hybrid of 2D and 3D third-person action that you play solely with a bare Wii Remote turned on its side, NES controller-style. You're almost always in fully 3D environments, but a lot of those levels contain invisible paths that cause Samus to, say, run smoothly along a curved hallway while you're simply holding to the right, instead of making you constantly adjust your movement up and to the side. Combine that seamless, gentle guidance with an auto-aim function that makes Samus shoot at any enemies she's vaguely pointing at, and there are times Other M almost feels like a true successor to its hallowed sidescrolling predecessors.

 It's wise to use the first-person mode, uh, wisely.
To be honest, a new 2D Metroid (in the style of Shadow Complex) is all I've wanted since the Metroid Prime franchise wrapped up, and it's when Other M strays from that desirable ideal into 3D territory that its control limitations occasionally start to show. The auto-aim isn't perfect when enemies are coming at you from all sides; you'll sometimes find yourself shooting at enemies you don't want to be shooting at, or missing others entirely. And moving around in a 360-degree space with only eight-way control sometimes feels awkward and limiting, as in those areas where there's no invisible path for Samus to follow and you find yourself having to zigzag along clumsily to navigate the environment. The fixed camera perspective means that foreground walls will occasionally get in your face, and while the game is generally good about making these transparent, they can still block your view once in a while when the action heats up.
 
These problems don't surface often, but they're present often enough to be noticeable. They are however mitigated to an extent by some slick action moves, like an automatic dodge that kicks in pretty much any time you're near a threat, and the ability to jump on top of most larger enemies and blast them up close for a quick, clean kill. These are the times when you can see Team Ninja getting closest to its roots, when you enter vaguely circular rooms and have to survive self-contained encounters with groups of enemies. The developer's legacy of making great action games comes to bear in these intense combat moments. It can be a pretty thrilling action game, when you're acting on instinct and using all of Samus' abilities together to take on large groups of enemies at once. You have to give your instincts over to the way the game works to really play it smoothly; the auto-dodge maneuver, for instance, is usually a better solution than simply jumping out of the way of danger.

This game isn't the revelation that Metroid Prime was, where you sat straight up and went "Holy [expletive of choice], they put Metroid in first-person and made it work." But it does share Prime's first-person view, in this case requiring you to point the Wii Remote at the screen. That gives you precision aiming, but it also immobilizes you, meaning you have to be careful to put some distance between yourself and enemies before you use the first-person mode. This mode generally works fine, and it does lock onto enemies and the relevant background elements required for puzzle-solving, but since you automatically look in the direction the Samus character model is facing, you have to constantly consider your positioning to make sure you don't try to aim at your enemies and wind up pointing into the corner instead, with them closing in behind you. All the combat controls require a great deal of finesse, but then, that's true of most demanding action games. This one certainly is demanding, especially some of the later boss encounters.
  
 The presentation of Samus' back story can be a little hokey at times, but there's payoff at the end.     
Other M takes place directly after Super Metroid, when Samus finds herself wandering the galaxy in search of another bounty to collect but obviously still affected by the death of the baby Metroid that came to regard her as a mother figure in that Super NES classic. She answers a distress call from a derelict research vessel called the Bottle Ship and by chance runs into a commando squad under the direction of Samus' old commanding officer Adam Malkovich, her history with whom the game sets up through occasional flashbacks and a surprising amount of dialogue. This is the first game in the franchise that's really attempted to humanize Samus and surround her with a supporting cast, but for the most part it does so flatly and without much gravity. Samus' voiceover is painfully dull at times, and the game introduces some frailty in her character that struck me as out of place for someone who's exterminated entire planets' worth of awful monsters. There is a legitimate dramatic payoff as events come to a head toward the end, though, especially as the story fleshes out some aspects of, and makes some interesting additions to, the longstanding Metroid mythology. (I don't know if you could say Metroid had much of a "mythology" before, but it does now.)
 
Actually, that's where Other M really excels: giving fans of Metroid exactly what they want to see. As great as the Prime games were, they veered pretty far afield of the series' core fiction, but by contrast, this game is right on target. I won't give away too many specifics, but if you can think of a common enemy, weapon, or story point from the first three Metroid games, rest assured there's at least some reference to it in here. The game opens with a CG recreation of the climactic finale of Super Metroid. And later on, a character even vocalizes the word " Tourian." Who but diehard Metroid fans even remember what Tourian is? If you have any fondness for the early days of the series, it's kind of thrilling to hear that sort of thing spoken out loud; it's a tantalizingly specific reference that points back to the almost nonexistent narrative aura that surrounded old NES games, when the only thin wisp of storyline came from the paragraph in the front of the instruction booklet. It's fan service, but extremely well implemented fan service. It reminds you of what you loved about Metroid.

 Yep, definitely a Metroid game.
Likewise the flow of the game. However well the combat and controls do or don't work at any given time--and they generally do work well--this definitely feels like a Metroid game in pacing and format. It turns out the Bottle Ship is basically a giant floating Holodeck that can simulate any naturalistic environment, which in nuts-and-bolts terms lets the designers give you your lava area, your ice area, a desert, and so on. You move from one sector to the next, amassing your arsenal of ice beams, super missiles, and screw attacks, all of which give you access to new areas and let you find more hidden missile tanks and other optional bonuses hidden within the environment. 
 
A great deal of care went into the environmental puzzles in Other M, requiring you to use first-person often to look around a room when you hit a dead end, looking for loose panels to bomb or finding a hidden morph tunnel, or enough room to use your speed booster to plow through a wall. Of course, you need to gain access to all those classic abilities before you can use them to advance. There's a silly story contrivance here where Samus actually goes into the mission already in possession of all this stuff, and Adam merely authorizes her to use it when she needs it, but that's really only in place to avoid yet another, arguably more contrived abilitease scenario. The point is, you're constantly engaging in that timeless interplay between new areas of the game and the new gear necessary to access those areas. It's the formula that drives every great Metroid--and has also been used to great effect in some of my other favorite games, like Arkham Asylum and Symphony of the Night--and Other M nails it.
 
It may not fully nail every one of its ambitions, but Other M at least gets close on all of them. More importantly, it really feels like an honest-to-goodness Metroid game. Nintendo's stingier than I would like in doling those out, and while I'd probably take whatever I could get with the "Metroid" name on it at this point, I'm more than satisfied with the way this one turned out. Brad Shoemaker on Google+
125 Comments
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Posted by PK_Koopa
@Afroman269 said:
" I think I'll pass on this. I only became interested in Metroid because of the Prime series. "
I'm kinda tempted to pass up on it for the same reason, not to mention Samus' voice just really puts me off. 
I'll give it a try though.
Posted by ajamafalous
@notlobot said:
" I'm surprised this got 4 stars after listening to all of the complaining about how the game plays in the quick look. "
This is kinda what I thought. The review reads a lot differently than the QL dialogue.
Posted by Max_Hydrogen

It seems this games wins its points on fan service alone. What does it mean when a game's best aspects consists of reminding you of better games you played in the past?
 
I don't want to seem arbitrarily anti- Other M; I just think there was no reason for Nintendo to mess with Metroid.

Posted by siavm
@valentin_rad: 
Gamer card revoked. Go play iphone games now if you say something like that. Me though will play and enjoy this game next week.
Posted by fjor
@siavm said:
" @valentin_rad:  Gamer card revoked. Go play iphone games now if you say something like that. Me though will play and enjoy this game next week. "
:D
Posted by rjayb89

I am now sexually interested in this game.

Posted by Turtlemayor333

Hmm, Wii? Wait a second...I have a Wii. 
 
This game is interesting because at first it looked like something that should attract a newcomer to the series (I.E, me) but now sounds more like Donkey Kong Country Returns or New Super Mario Bros. I'm glad it will be good for the Metroid fans but personally it will be a pass.

Posted by TMThomsen
Posted by JoeyRavn

The original Metroid was one of my favorite games when I was a kid, although I never managed to beat it back then. Metroid II... man, I know people loathe it, but I love it. It was the first Metroid I could fully understand (mainly due to growing up and all that stuff :P). Super Metroid... it's Super Metroid. I enjoyed a lot Zero Mission and Fusion, and I loved Metroid Prime. Then I played Metroid Prime 2... and my soul plummeted to the ground. I had to force myself to beat that game. It was the fist Metroid that I truly didn't like. I'm playing MP3 right now and it feels much better than MP2, IMO... But dunno about Other M. I wasn't exactly burning with hype for it, and the QL didn't help much. The controls are extremely awkward for a 2010 3D game, I don't understand why Team Ninja decided not to include nunchuck support for this game... *sigh* People are giving it favorable reviews, but dunno... I think I'll wait for a couple more reviews before deciding whether I'll buy it or not.

Posted by captainzhao

cannot wait

Posted by BigChief

Huh, interesting. Rated significantly higher than I expected, just going by the previous talk on the Bombcast and such. Which is neat, because I'm now much more interested in the game than I was before. I've played a bit of Metroid Prime, but other than that I'm a Metroid newbie, and this might be a good jumping on point.

Posted by TadThuggish

Honestly, I'm very glad this turned out well enough to warrant a 4 star review.  The GB crew was pretty skeptical of it, and even with that skepticism I knew it may not be 5 stars, but this is more than enough to satisfy a userbase.  Four stars still means it's a great game.  Glad you enjoyed it, Brad.

Posted by TheFreeMan

I'm actually really excited for this. Metroid is probably my favourite videogame franchise, and I'm okay with some different takes on it. And as someone who has suffered through the endless fucking cutscenes of Kingdom Hearts 2 and the Metal Gear Solid games, I think I can probably manage the focus on the story this time around.
 
Good review Brad. A lot of the ones I've read are kind of all over the place but yours seemed fair and took a look at everything about the game, instead of just the story or the gameplay alone.

Posted by Ohvee
@notlobot said:
" I'm surprised this got 4 stars after listening to all of the complaining about how the game plays in the quick look. "
Well, it definitely helps to have a more well-rounded opinion. I kind of stopped watching quicklooks. They were entertaining at first and I like to get a look of a game early, but they are generally pretty negative. Or at least perceived that way. 
I'm pretty surprised that this got a 4-star review but that definitely gives it some weight given the consternation* leading up to this game. 
 
*may not be a correct usage of this word
Posted by Brackynews
@Ohvee said:
"given the consternation* leading up to this game.  *may not be a correct usage of this word "
It is correct.
Posted by S0ndor

I have no nostalgia for previous Metroid games so this doesn't appeal to me at all. I loved the Prime series to death but this looks unappealing. From the ugly enemy types, weird control scheme, lame anime characters, bad voice acting and the fact that Samus looks like a 12 year old schoolgirl, there's really nothing here for me. 
 
Maybe when it becomes cheaper.

Posted by radioactivez0r
@wapostyle said:
" This is the first time I've been NOT excited for a Metroid game.  All I want is Shadow Complex in the Metroid universe. Why doesn't Nintendo get that? "
Good question.  Usually game companies design their entire market strategy around one single person's opinion, so it's a mystery why Nintendo didn't do that here.  And yes, I am aware that it's not just YOU that would like that, but seriously, give them some credit.  They don't actively try to piss off nostalgic fans.  
 
I think I have to stop reading reviews now, as well.  QLs are still useful for seeing gameplay, but reviews are so scattered and picky - one focuses on gameplay like it should while another frets about bad storytelling, which is at best secondary - and it's impossible to get a great idea of a game without playing it. 
Posted by Cold_Wolven

I was kind of afraid when I heard Team Ninja were the developers for Metroid: Other M. I don't like the Ninja Gaiden games and that was my main concern, that TN was just going to make Ninja Gaiden with Samus. I'm a bit more optimistic now even if the controls aren't 100% and the story can be a little melodramatic.
Posted by Psykhophear

When I first heard about them giving Samus Arun a voice, I was pretty excited about the idea because I've always hated silent protagonists and I thought it was time for her to finally speak. But when she did, I was a bit surprised that Samus talks too much and delivers a very mediocre voice acting.

I expected her to be like Ryu Hayabusa and Master Chief whom only speak when necessary but Samus just couldn't stop talking, at least that's how I see it. Nevertheless, it's a Metroid game and I'm willing to give it a chance for I've been waiting for a new Metroid game for a very long time.    

Posted by Willy105
@valentin_rad said:
" Isn't this game just like Bionicle Heroes ? Is there any reason to play it besides nostalgia? "
What a weird post.
 
Not only is it nothing like Bionicle Heroes, the game is significantly different than all the other games in the series, so nostalgia would only just come from having Metroid characters.
Edited by Kamikaze_Tutor
@tumes said:

" @Kamikaze_Tutor: According to at least one other review, no, you can't, which sorta sucks. "

Argh! I knew it! I played the game from the start at a Post-E3 Nintendo Event and I just gave up on playing the rest after opening a door and seeing the squad again after my first encounter with them like 1 minute ago. All those videos drag the game so much in the beginning... I was hoping it wasn't the final build, but someone told me it was...
 
At least in Metal Gear Solid 2 you could make Raiden look cool if you skipped every single cut-scene/codec conversation. 
Posted by 1trained_n00b

lol I read the caption "   The presentation of Samus' back story can be a little hokey at times, but there's payoff at the end. "   
 
as  
 
"The presentation of Samus' back check can be a little hockey at times, but there's playoffs at the end."
 
I have no idea why

Posted by LordXavierBritish

The gameplay breaks down "often enough to be noticeable" and the story doesn't fit Samus's character at all. 
 
4 stars.

Posted by Strubes

If I had a Wii, this is one game I'd definitely be looking forward to. I've been intrigued by this since it was announced.

Posted by Jost1

I'll say it again: it looks great and I'm surprised at how psyched I am now, after having been doubtful for a while

Posted by Hef
@TMThomsen: @TMThomsen said:
"
"
Awesome
Posted by Frodofeet

Hey Brad, I'm wondering if the noticeable problems in 3d and aiming at mobs present a problem with game progression.  I don't mean to give N too many allowances, but the hardware is limited for that type of action.  Does it seem like they chose to use those mobs to create tension(a la Resident Evil tank controls, item scarcity), or that is is detracting from the progression in the game. 
I enjoyed the review, btw.

Posted by ashogo
@ELpork said:
" The voice acting is... well to be brutally honest, at the level of English dubbed Hentai...... "
Ouch. Harsh words.
Posted by ArclightBorealis

At worst I figured it would maybe get a 3. Glad to see you enjoyed it, Brad.  
 
Can't wait to get this game next week.

Posted by Godwind

4/5 out of stars!?  This is professional trolling at its finest!?
 
Keep up the good work.

Posted by moelarrycurly

Cool beans.  I'm really curious about this one.

Posted by ptys

Really getting tempted to buy a Wii as there's about five games I want to play.

Posted by Hailinel
@valentin_rad said:
"Isn't this game just like Bionicle Heroes ? Is there any reason to play it besides nostalgia? "

In the vernacular of an ADD-addled fourteen-year-old, "lol wut." 
 
Tuesday can't get here fast enough.  I'm happy to hear that the game turned out so well.  Also, nicely written review, Brad!
Online
Posted by Hailinel
@DukeTogo said:
"Geez Brad, it's almost like a reverse Kane and Lynch.  Maybe you should go back to Gamespot, since clearly you'll let shitty games slide if you like the company enough. "

Not sure if serious.
Online
Posted by big_jon

I am getting this now.
Posted by hagridore
I don't want to play this, but am interested in what the awful game title is about. 
 
Worst video game title since Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days​?
Posted by Tarsier

samus is kind of a dink..

Posted by Brackynews

Totally forgot this was out this month.  Great review Brad.  Looking forward to trying it.
I was genuinely surprised to see that Brad hadn't linked "derelict research vessel" but that's because it's another shockingly absent concept!  So I whipped up the Derelict Vessel page.  C'mon GB, there must be dozens more games to attach! :)

Posted by Yagami

Yup, yet another great review Bradley! I agree on nearly (if not) everything you had to say.

Posted by Brendan

More Brad reivew hate in the comments!  I love it!  (And I'm not talking about the legitimate critisicm)
Posted by DrWhat

G4's Abbie Heppe has a pretty interesting review of this, and gave it a 2 out of 5.
 
I have to say it's a lot more compelling than "it's Metroid! It has problems. 4/5!"

Posted by Wrighteous86

This game is clearly sexist.  2 stars.
 
/sarcasm

Edited by Blair
@josty81 said:

" I'll say it again: it looks great and I'm surprised at how psyched I am now, after having been doubtful for a while "

Agreed.  Great review, Brad.
Posted by AgentJ

After a lot of the quicklooks and first looks came down on this game, I was very worried, but I've hardly seen a review below an 4/5 (besides the apparently ridiculous X-play), so I'm very reassured at this point.

Posted by KingGamer

I want a video review!! Or maybe a Quick Look. DO IT BRAD!!

Posted by RipperSU

Damn, there are enough decent titles for me now to have to buy a Wii. No More Heroes, Mario Galaxy, Prime 3 and Other M need to be played.

Posted by Jost1
@RipperSU said:
" Damn, there are enough decent titles for me now to have to buy a Wii. No More Heroes, Mario Galaxy, Prime 3 and Other M need to be played. "
Nintendo has the most hardcore lineup of all three console manufacturers. Sony and MS are now flailing in the dark trying to replicate Nintendo anno 2006.  It's the stupidest thing ever.
Posted by fjor
@DrWhat said:

" G4's Abbie Heppe has a pretty interesting review of this, and gave it a 2 out of 5.  I have to say it's a lot more compelling than "it's Metroid! It has problems. 4/5!" "

g4 review is  completely retarded
Posted by CaLe

David Beckham is totally in this game as a space marine.

Posted by Noremakk

So much is automatic, by the sounds of it. Do you actually "play" the game, or do you simply watch it?

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