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Metroid: Other M Reviewed – Not the Samus Before 
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Geoffrey Tim
September 14, 2010 at 12:15 pm

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When Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo’s beefy president showed the brief teaser trailer for Metroid : Other M at 2009’s E3, I couldn’t help but elicit girlyish squeals. It looked like it would return the series – at least partially – to its 3rd person exploration roots, only with an adrenaline-fuelled kick in the junk, courtesy of Ninja Gaiden developers Team Ninja.

Now that I’ve had a chance to play through it, does it hold up – or were my squees for nought?

Metroid : Other M Kicks off right after the events of 1994’s Super Metroid on the SNES (and thus long after the “Prime Trilogy” you might be more acquainted with). Our heroine; the petit, but ass-kicking freelance bounty hunter Samus Aran is drawn to a large research ship called “ The Bottle Ship” after receiving a mysterious distress signal. There, she discovers a team of Galactic Federation soldiers, lead by her former commander Adam Malkovich, who have apparently responded to the same signal. Samus agrees to join up with them for the mission, begrudgingly taking orders from Malkovich. It’s not the only thing she’s discovered. For the first time in her gaming history, Samus has discovered her voice, shrugging off her traditional role as a cipher – and you’ll be hearing many of her wooden monologues throughout the game.

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More than the main narrative though, Metroid : Other M is Samus’ story. It tells who she is, why she became a bounty hunter, and what haunts her thoughts – and why – as she hops from planet to planet. It’s a pity the writing and voice acting couldn’t be better, because as presented, the newly vocal Samus comes across as a bit whiney in the multitudes of cut-scenes that’ll break the game’s action. Thankfully the cut-scenes are both visually impressive and slick – but the fact that they’re rather melodramatic and unskippable, means you’ll care for them less than you should.

Metroid though, is about exploration and in this sense Other M is closer to a traditional Metroid experience than expected. The focus is very much on the Samus Aran’s isolation as she explores the abandoned, labyrinthine Bottle Ship. She will encounter swarms of alien creatures, leading to some exciting combat – and here it’s easy to see Team Ninja’s involvement. Combat is, for the most part, perfect. Team Ninja have made a daring – but inspired -  choice  regarding the controls. It’s an interesting control scheme in that you use the Wiimote held on it’s side – like a NES pad.

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Using a d-pad to navigate through a 3D space in 3rd person view brings with it its problems – but they’re mostly accounted for in the use of some clever camera techniques and forced perspectives. There’s no target locking using this minimalist set-up, but the auto-aim feature is pretty capable. Combat can become quite intense when you’re swarmed by powerful enemies, the difficulty of which is alleviated by the ability to doge attacks by tapping a direction on the d-pad just before impact. this has the added benefit of charging your blaster to full destruction capacity, so you can use the opportunity to blast your the attacking enemy- like a reversal of sorts. It also comes in handy during the game’s many, varied boss sequences, most of which are unique and exhilarating. You can also execute flash ninja Gaiden inspired kill moves at certain opportunities, adding to the brutal feel of the combat.

Conclusion

8.5

Metroid: Other M was reviewed by Geoffrey Tim

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I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces.I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.I am also the emperor of the backend

  • AC!D

    Ive got to say Geoff im 3 hours into this game and im hating it at the moment. The controls are really awkward and every boss fight seems like its dodge in third person, switch to first person and fire missile at big yellow bulleye on boss.Its almost like the strategy for every fight is timing to pull in and out of views. Timing in frustration more likely. Im also not impressed with the in game graphics and to be honest i thought Metroid Prime corruptions 3D environments looked better. Why oh why team ninja thought it would be a good idea to keep you stuck in place for first person shooting is also beyond me. At the very least they could have added a strafe button so you dont have to keep switching in and out of views to dodge. You also make a good point about why on earth Team Ninja didnt use the analog on the nunchuck for movement and let you use the Wiimote to shoot. Also it seems they took out all the depth of past metroids like scanning for items and back story and tons of other equipment. Im also hating the ergonomics and the D-pad on the Wiimote on its side.

    I really want to enjoy this and im sticking it out but damn please tell me it gets better Geoff? because suddenly i miss Retro games developing the Metroid series like crazy!!!

  • http://www.lazygamer.co.za Geoffrey Tim

    If your base for Metroid is Prime, you’re likely not going to love the game. As a sequel to Super Metroid, it fits perfectly.

    Try your best to stick with it though, because I found it to be pretty damned excellent. It does get better.
    Then again, I’m a huge super Metroid fan.

  • AC!D

    Im about 5 hours in and in sector 2. The controls are getting easier to handle a bit. I never played the older Metroid games and i see what your getting at with the 3rd person isometric vs FPS gameplay but im actually enjoying the 3RD person parts. Infact the FPS parts sort of ruin it a bit when you have to keep switching in and out. Fortunately its motsly only for on rails parts and bosses. But yeah seriously they should have just made all the boss battles in FPS mode where you can move around and let you play the rest of the game in the 3RD person as is.

  • http://www.lazygamer.co.za Geoffrey Tim

    I suspect that by the time it’s all over – particularly if you do the bits after the credits – you’ll bethinking “Damn, that was actually pretty awesome.”

    As i said, the game could have done away with the 1st person bits entirely.

  • pantsula

    Getting it soon. Looks awesomwe

  • AC!D

    @Pantsula: It is really good. Once you get past the strange design choices and and learn to use the controls properly the game really opens up. Ignore my ramblings up above.

    @Geoff: You mentioned in your review that after the game ends something happens if you keep playing.Without spoiling anything i just want to ask do you need to 100% the game for this event, ending or whatever it is to occur?

  • http://www.lazygamer.co.za Geoffrey Tim

    Nope. 100% isn’t necessary, you just need to go back to retrieve something.

    Really glad you’re enjoying the game now. It’s unfortunate that it’s likely going to be overlooked locally, because it’s pretty damned good.

  • AC!D

    Unfortunately Metroid games are always overlooked. I think Corruption barely just sold over a million. For me Metroid is better than Killzone and Halo combined.

  • AC!D

    Just finished it. Took me about 12 hours. Great game!!! Better than i thought it would be after the first couple of hours adjusting.

  • http://www.designwave.co.za Nick de Bruyne

    @AC!D – I’m really glad to hear that it ended up winning your heart after your initial concerns! :happy:

  • http://www.designwave.co.za Nick de Bruyne

    This is also a a good example of the frustrations we have to deal with when people come into our reviews after playing the game for only 2-3 hours and tell us that our reviews are terrible/broken/paid-for… you name it… when at the end of the day they don’t take the time to play through more of the game and discover what it offers as a complete package.

    Good on AC!D for keeping on, it looks like it was well worth it. Now Geoff, about that review copy…