Tech News on G4
New 'Metroid' not quite super
Oct 12, 2010
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
It would be wise to get a few things out of the way right off the bat in regards to the latest game for one of Nintendo's many high-profile series, Metroid: Other M.
For those expectant fans of the Metroid Prime series' slow pace and atmosphere of isolation, or for gamers who thrive on the extreme difficulty of developer Team Ninja's Ninja Gaiden titles: don't hold your breath.
The series has made a full 180, back to the all-out action of Super Metroid on the SNES. In fact, Other M takes place directly after the events of that game, with bounty hunter Samus Aran waking up after the epic battle with Mother Brain, where her Metroid protector sacrified itself to save her.
Though there is exploration and item-hunting, you'll be spending a lot more time unloading ammo from your arm cannon than you will searching for powerups. The difficulty level, meanwhile, seems to cater more to the casual crowd. Odd that a game that feels like an homage to the old-school, doesn't have anything close to the difficulty that so many titles from the 80's and early 90's had.
After a quick tutorial, Samus receives a distress signal from a ship in outer space and, being the reliable bounty hunter she is, goes off in her ship to investigate it. There she meets up with some old friends from a military outfit that she used to belong to before her days as a solo artist. Things move at a fast pace from here.
Players are quickly introduced to the new Wii-ified controls. The majority of the game is played holding the Wii Remote sideways (like you would for old NES games), though certain sections require you to point at the screen, instantly changing the view from third-person to first-person.
It'll take some getting used to, and it never truly feels quite right, but most gamers will get a good grasp of the control scheme after a few minutes. There's no doubt that it's a little off-putting that you're stuck in one spot while in first-person mode, especially if you've played any of the 'Prime' games. Chances are, there will be more than a few moments where you'll take some serious damage from an enemy because you weren't quick enough on the draw, moving back to third-person and leaping out of the way.
When played exclusively in third-person, Other M is nothing less than completely fluid, and quite simply a blast to play. The game feels similar to 2D side scrollers of days past, but with 3D elements. Besides the usual running, shooting and in Samus' case, rolling up into the morph ball, Team Ninja made some cool additions to the bounty hunter's repertoire.
One such addition is SenseMove - the ability to quickly jump out of the way of an attack by pressing anywhere on the directional pad just as the attack is about to land. As cool as this is, it really doesn't take the precise timing one might think. Simply tapping the d-pad repeatedly when enemies are onscreen will have Samus leaping out of the way of danger over and over again. It looks cool and helps immensely when the screen is full of fast-moving baddies, but it's not difficult to pull off.
Other M follows the same basic formula of just about every Metroid game: start off with only basic items, and gain powerups as you progress through the campaign. Though Other M has a much larger focus on story than past Metroid titles, this opens up the opportunity for plot holes, and you can be sure you'll find those in this game. The biggest head-scratcher is that Samus actually never loses her suit's powers - she chooses not to use them until given permission by a military boss who she meets up with on the ship.
It's mind boggling to think that Samus could be taking out many early enemies simply by filling them full of the Plasma beam or a few Super Missiles, but it's best not to think about that too much.
The pacing in this sense isn't all that great. The first half of Other M has Samus using the most basic of weapons, with a few missiles and add-ons peppered throughout the ship. It's not until the latter half of the game that she suddenly starts using the really good stuff. Hopefully gamers won't give up early on, because as action-oriented as Other M is, it really hits its stride later rather than earlier.
The Metroid series has always been known for having some truly memorable boss fights, and though the bosses in Other M look fantastic, the majority of the battles really are quite similar - freeze some part of the enemy's body, quickly shoot it with some well-placed missiles, dodge some attacks, rinse and repeat. There are slight differences between them, and one boss clash feels like the most epic fishing fight ever thanks to the grapple beam, but looking back on them all, it's a little disappointing.
As easy as it is to nitpick Other M, the reason for that is really because most of the other games in the series are so fantastic. It's almost expected that a Metroid game is going to be good; what gamers expect, though, is excellence. While playing through Other M, everything feels fluid and looks great. It's not until the end credits roll and the game is turned off that the imperfections begin to sink in.
Metroid: Other M is a perfectly good action game, but unlike other Metroid titles, this one doesn't stick with you long after you've played it.
Metroid: Other M
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