Metroid Other M Review
Before anyone jumps on me for being over-critical with the commentary of the image, just know that it is an exaggeration.
So I actually completed Other M shortly before the school year started but thanks to an unfortunate class schedule, I wasn't really up to writing out a review until now. Let's kick off with the preface: Metroid Other M is the newest title in the Metroid franchise developed by Team Ninja as opposed to Nintendo, which developed all previous Metroid games. It makes a huge shift in focus, going from the staple intricate exploration of the series and opting to be a straight-forward action game.
In several specific areas, the game is going to be an unfortunate letdown for long-time Metroid fans. To start, the soundtrack to the game is incredibly lackluster. The vast majority of the game features no music at all, in fact. What little music is present is made up mostly of minor remixes of pieces found in other games of the series. There's not much to say for the game on this front.
There is no true focus on exploration whatsoever. You will find extra passageways, but those will only lead to hidden items. There are no interconnecting pathways, playing through the game is a series of traveling from point A to point B. While this was pretty much to be expected, the exploration is still something to be missed.
As you could probably predict for a Team Ninja game, Other M boasts some pretty presentation. In-game graphics are technically vastly superior to the majority of Wii games, though the location setup and design is pretty dull. There are occasional effects that fall short of what you would even expect from a Gamecube title. Nonetheless, Other M's one of the better looking titles on the Wii.
As for cut-scenes, they can really bother the experience. The cut-scenes are just way too long, overstaying their welcome several times over. To give you an idea, the game takes about 8 hours to complete. After you complete it, you can watch the game as a 'movie'; a compilation of the cut-scenes with little bits of gameplay footage to bridge the gaps; and this 'movie' is 2 hours long. By that, the cut-scenes take up approximately 25% of the game. It doesn't help that the dialogue is terrible and Samus's voice actress is utterly atrocious either. I don't understand how a game could end up with a decent cast of voices for most of the characters and then something so bad for the main character.
But moving on to the more important stuff. In the area of gameplay we actually have a very refreshing control scheme that manages to utilize nothing more than the Wii remote, with only a couple minor inadequacies. Holding the remote sideways, you use the D-Pad to move, A to enter morph ball, 2 to jump and 1 to shoot. If you point the remote up and hold down A, you can recharge your health and missile ammunition by an amount dependent on your current upgrades. Pointing the remote at the screen enters a stationary 1st-person mode; most of the time this is used to fire missiles, which you can't do in 3rd-person. Occasionally, you automatically enter 1st-person mode and have to pick out a particular detail of your surrounding environment before proceeding. This can be a pain because there's not a lot to highlight what you're supposed to find and sometimes the subject just appears so small on the screen that it's hard to center on.
While in 3rd-person perspective, there's an auto-aim feature which can tend to make things a little on the easy side when fighting swarms of enemies. On the other hand, without an auto-lock feature, any way I could think of implementing 3rd-person aiming would just be a huge pain. One other big shortcoming in the difficulty is the inclusion of dodging. If you tap a direction just before being hit with an attack, Samus will roll out of the way. The issue with this is that it's very easy to exploit. If you continuously lightly tap directions while fighting enemies, you're guaranteed to dodge 99% of the attacks launched at you.
With the progression of enemies and bosses you fight, the difficulty curve is pretty minor to the point that it almost feels like the game never gets any harder from the beginning. It's better than having a wonky curve that can just throw the player off for no good reason but it's still not a good curve. The game also begins very slow; the entire first hour of play is quite boring. Still, I would encourage bearing with it because there is fun to be had.
Final verdict: It's OK. Metroid Other M is an average game. It has exactly the amount of good and bad you would expect from something average. The hype surrounding the game and, more prominently, the standard of the Metroid series itself will leave fans disappointed with it. It's simply not up to par with almost any other title in the series. Metroid Fusion was previously my least liked of the series and I wouldn't say Other M is any better than it.
I'd still recommend at least a single play-through for longtime fans; give it a rental. Much like Ridley's constant reappearances, you're going to see many old enemies make a return, some in very cool ways.