25 November 2012 | robotbling
Horrible story, but the actual game isn't bad
(www.plasticpals.com) Metroid: Other M, developed by Nintendo and Tecmo's Team Ninja (known for the Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive games) is the first in the series where the main heroine, Samus Aran, has a speaking role. Throughout the series' 8 previous games, Samus Aran's personality was little more than an outline tracing a fearless, silent galactic bounty hunter. Her personality was left to the player's imagination, akin to Star Wars' Boba Fett, and that's how players liked her. Metroid: Other M fleshes out Samus' back story and relationship with her former commander Adam, but in so doing betrays our perception of her. This has led some fan-boyish reviewers to be overly critical of what amounts to a solid and enjoyable action game with many experimental elements that don't always gel perfectly.
Starting right where Super Metroid left off, Samus has access to every ability in her arsenal from the beginning – she's just not allowed to use them until Adam authorizes it. This is Other M's way of solving the Metroid formula's biggest problem: how to remove Samus' powers at the outset of each new game. It results in some mind-numbingly stupid situations like when Samus is forced into the heart of a volcano, and actively takes damage from the heat because Adam hasn't specifically told her to turn on her protective armour. And when you finally do get authorization, the feeling of accomplishment you'd normally experience in previous Metroid games is completely gone because you didn't find or earn it.
The story is a bit cheesy and not quite as mature as one would hope, but the cinematic sequences look spectacular.
The camera automatically tracks the action from the best angle, giving a broad overview of the scene, where the player is often running and gunning in a side-scrolling perspective. It almost never frustrates the player's ability to navigate and fight effectively, and in practise feels quite a bit like the older 2D Metroid titles. This was a wise choice, as probably the biggest complaint from the previous 3D Metroid titles was that you never really saw much of the main character.
Other M also allows you to switch to a first-person perspective by aiming the Wii remote directly at your television. It sounds like a gimmick, but it actually works pretty well. You're planted firmly in place, but are free to look around and manually target missiles at enemy weak spots. Missiles can only be fired from this perspective, so you'll be switching in and out against bosses, leaving you momentarily susceptible to their attacks in the process.
The game's graphics and animated sequences are easily the best of the more mature titles on the Wii, and are almost flawless (there is some minor slow-down in one or two areas). The music is tense and atmospheric like it ought to be. The combat is tight and satisfying with plenty of challenging encounters and cool bosses. It's a shame that some of the other elements don't live up to the game's presentation.
The story may not win any awards for its writing, but thankfully the worst parts are over pretty quickly and the rest turns out to be a decent sci-fi mystery which attempts to humanize and add some vulnerability to the Samus Aran character.
The Wii isn't exactly drowning in top-quality action games, let alone those with the insane production values of Other M, so it's a pretty easy recommendation. It seems to me that its most critical reviewers didn't actually play much beyond the first hour.