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  • Fields20117 September 2010
    Let me start by saying that I am a fan of the Metroid series, starting with the very first Metroid on the NES, but I haven't played them all. I didn't play Metroid: Fusion which I hear is basically what this game is,or that Zero Mission or the Metroid Prime sequels. Other than that, I played them all.

    What made me excited about this new Metroid was the inclusion of an involving story. It looked like we would learn more about our female protagonist, Samus Aran, and her whole bounty hunter gig. Not that it was really what I play Metroid games for, you know, some kind of story. In fact, most of the time I just want games with stories to get on with it so I can actually play the friggin' game! This game is no exception.

    The game starts out with a beautifully rendered cinema of the ending of Super Metroid, which this game takes place after. That's right, to sell this game, the developers felt the need to continue right after the best of the series, Super Metroid (although, I'm more partial to Metroid Prime myself). So when that part's over it takes us to the story of the game. And Samus keeps talking, and talking, and talking, and talking, you get my drift? There would be this tense scene of Samus examining dead bodies of scientists and suddenly she's narrating over it. I get what's going on here! So what is Samus talking about? How she misses a dead baby Metroid. I'm not kidding. Samus got attached to a flying jelly mold and somehow she's distraught and can't get over it. Go screw that Adam guy and have a kid!

    That brings me to this Adam character. He's some former leader of yours that you run into that has a small squad examining the same ship Samus is investigating. Even though Samus appears to be a maverick, she decides to listen to Adam and join his team even though she was never really assigned in the first place.

    So what does Adam want from Samus? TO TURN OFF EVERY WEAPON AND GADGET SHE RECEIVED FROM SUPER METROID AND USE THEM WHEN HE SAYS SO! That's right, you can't use anything unless Adam says so. Burning alive? "I have a varia suit that can protect me from the heat but Adam would think less of me if I use it without his permission." No Samus, Adam would think less of you when he sees that you have third degree burns all over your face and he can see the skull from you cheeks! Really, it's the game's excuse to make sure you aren't fully equipped from the previous game and have an easy experience but the explanation is just maddening!

    The gameplay is good though. You run and shoot a bunch of creatures in environments very similar to previous Metroid games. However, unless I'm not paying much attention but how is there some fire, ice and jungle world when Samus was investigating some ship? It's really odd. Then you have to switch to first person mode. YOU HAVE TO SWITCH TO FIRST PERSON MODE AT TIMES! This is necessary to scan things and shoot enemies with missiles while they are charging at you. The game doesn't let you move around in this mode. I guess they figured it might as well be Metroid Prime this way but it does let you dodge enemy attacks with this but not very often. It's still awkward.

    However, Metroid: Other M does have an interesting story involving selling Metroids on the market and a traitor in Adam's gang and the gameplay is fun with a cool atmosphere. Sometimes it reminds me of the game Dead Space with how Samus sometimes move really slow around places and the atmosphere around you. There are some annoying instances where you have to play Where's Waldo and forced into first person mode to find one tiny thing to scan to advance. It's annoying.

    If you never played a Metroid game in your life then by all means download Super Metroid on your virtual console. Don't have a virtual console then hunt down the first Metroid Prime. This is a good game and I had a lot of fun with it, but it won't make a Metroid fan.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It is no secret that the classic Metroid game was heavily inspired by the first Alien movie, both in story and atmosphere, and it is interesting to see how the parallels remained between the two franchises over the years. In Metroid II and Super Metroid, Samus set out to destroy the monsters, battled a giant queen and took care of an innocent youngling, just like Ripley had done in Aliens; and in Metroid Fusion, the creature was cloned back into existence, and Samus became a mix of herself and the monster that she had tried to destroy for so long, just like Ripley had several years before in Alien Resurrection.

    But just as with Aliens, the Metroid series had reached its culmination with Super Metroid, and every subsequent installment had a hard time living up to that legacy. Metroid Other M took the series into new territory, just as Alien 3 had done once, and the result was just as divisive and controversial among fans.

    Well, as did the people who liked Alien 3 (myself included, especially the longer version), I am going to stand up for Metroid Other M, because before Metroid Prime Federation Force, this seemed to be the most hated game in the series. And part of that, in my humble opinion, has to do with some misconceptions about Samus Aran: some people believe that since she hardly talked or showed emotions in the previous games, she shouldn't do that in any game. I could hold a long exposition about how games have become a much more professional and expressive medium over the years; I mean, do we complain about the lack of bad voice acting in later Resident Evil games? Let me suffice by saying that I thought it was interesting that, after years of non- linear gameplay, they finally tried something more plot- and character-driven, but apparently, some fans only want to see more of the same (what else is new?)

    The makers have done considerable efforts to make this game feel familiar. Samus' trusted equipment and weapons are back, as are some familiar enemies and environments, and there is even the occasional moment where a first-person perspective á la Metroid Prime is used (which is cool during combat, but adds little when used during pixel- hunting objectives). The gameplay is an interesting implementation of old school 2D platform action within a 3D world. The fighting system that includes dodging moves and melee attacks works really well in this gameplay, and really adds something that we haven't seen in the platform and 3D entries in the series. But the biggest innovation is the presence of an elaborate plot, where Samus gets hold of a conspiracy that involves both Metroids and Space Pirates, a spy among the ranks, and a lot of unexpected twists. A lot of people didn't like this, complaining that it forced them to watch endless cut-scenes and go where the game sent them instead of finding your own way, but I found this sense of direction working remarkably well. In between objectives, there is still enough room for free roaming, and it enables the game to present a detective novel's worth of scripted events and surprises. Ridley and Mother Brain are shown in a different light, which provides two of my favorite twists here, and the game uses the opportunity to flesh out Samus beyond her usual stoic persona.

    Which brings us to the next point: Samus dealing with several unresolved issues and traumas from her past. Adam Malkovich, mentioned briefly in Metroid Fusion, is part of it, and their full backstory is explained here. The major criticism was that Samus was too chatty, and her emotional breakdowns in the game (especially in the Ridley encounter) were inconsistent with her previous portrayals. I am afraid that the fans who take Samus for a cold, autistic creature simply don't understand human nature. At this point in the series, Samus has maintained the tough girl act, but everyone who has ever watched the series "24" knows that even the tough ones have a breaking point. This is the pivotal moment where all unprocessed events (especially the Metroid hatchling's death) finally catch up with Samus, and it makes her more human then ever, up to her tearful goodbye from Adam. But in the end, Samus gets a grip and comes out stronger than ever.

    A special mention for the graphics, which look pretty good considering this is a Wii game. Especially the cut-scenes almost look high-def, something not all contemporary titles can claim.

    Solid points aside, this entry in the series has received criticism that I agree with. It doesn't make much sense that Samus can't use parts of her suit because she staunchly follows Adam's orders, even to her detriment. The makers could have made the plot similarities with Metroid Fusion a bit less obvious (yes, that's you I am referring to, Nightmare). Hard mode really is too hard, and a bonus for getting 100% of all items would have been welcome. But again, what some see as shortcomings in story, I see as its strongest assets. And I'll take a battle with a Metroid Queen every day!

    Given the mixed reactions to the game, it is most likely that it is a one-off, and any continuation of the series will probably revert back to the silent heroin in an open world. I am okay with that. We will always have Other M, even if some chose to forget it.
  • ( 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.