Review: "Metroid: Other M"
For my first review here, I’m going to review a controversial game that, as far as I can tell, is one of those that you either love or hate. Yes, as the title obviously suggests, this is Metroid: Other M, released last October for the Nintendo Wii and developed by Team Ninja of “Ninja Gaiden” and “Dead or Alive” fame. I’ve been a fan of Metroid games ever since I received Zero Mission for the GBA as a Christmas gift as a kid, and I instantly loved it! I now own a copy of every single Metroid game released and have beaten them all (with the exception of Metroid II), sometimes more than once. I think that would know a good Metroid game when I see one, and Other M fits that description perfectly!
Metroid: Other M takes place between Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion, telling the story of Samus’ relation to Adam Malkovich, a character mentioned in Fusion. The game begins right when Super Metroid ends with a very well-rendered CGI opening-sequence, and leads into the tutorial for the game. After the tutorial, you end up on the Bottle Ship after you sense a distress call there and find Adam’s team of Galactic Federation troopers. After a boss battle, you join their forces for the mission and explore a ship full of deserted rooms and lethal creatures that can kill you if you’re not careful. The story, at first, is extremely sentimental to the point where it actually made me start laughing. By the end of the game, however, it all comes together to form a very cinematic, well-thought-out, and engaging experience. For those of you who beat the game, you can unlock a 2-hour movie version of the game, though it honestly isn’t nearly as good as the game itself; the gameplay clips feel too cut-and-paste and not as seamless as the game.Other M isn’t your standard Metroid game for various reasons, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. First of all, as should be obvious if you’ve looked up the game before, it’s a 3D, third-person adventure as opposed to a first-person adventure or a standard 2D adventure game like the others in the series. Even more different is the fact that you control Samus in a 3D space with 2D, digital controls with the Wiimote on it’s side. When you point the remote at the screen, Samus stops moving and you get to aim in first-person, similarly to the Prime series, but with some notable differences since you have no nunchuck controller. When you’re locked-on, you fire missiles at enemies, and this is the only way to use them. While some reviewers have claim that these controls are buggy or challenging, I’ve found no problems at all; in fact, I congratulate Team Ninja for doing such a good job on them. One of the popular areas of complaining relating to the controls are the new features that Team Ninja introduced, for example, “Overblast” where you can jump on top of an enemy (depending on the enemy) and fire a beam blast to it’s head. A variation of this, called “Lethal Strike”, where you simply walk into a wounded enemy, is often used to finish an enemy off and makes tough encounters much easier. Lastly, you can dodge attacks by pressing a direction on the D-pad right when an attack’s about to hit you; doing this while charging your beam will give you an instant full charge for a counter-attack. I’ve never had a problem with any of these new features and they add more suspense and excitement to the already exciting Metroid battles. What I liked more than the great story or controls, however, was the graphics. The atmosphere of the game, while containing trite locations, manages to be rather creepy at times (I actually got scared a few times during the game). Visual effects are pretty, smooth, and look almost as good as the CGI cutscenes in the game sometimes. The only major downside to the graphics is that, while they’re usually awesome, it’s pretty easy to see cut corners if you look beyond the extreme shininess the game offers, though it isn’t necessarily a bad thing sometimes since, even with lots of action, the game runs at a super-smooth 60FPS; I do admit that there were one or two times during the game when it slowed down, but they were very minor.
Likewise, the music in the game is usually impressive. The title theme, boss music, theme-of-a-certain-boss-battle-that-would-give-away-a-major-spoiler-if-I-told-you-who-it-was, and so on are very well-made. Those tracks don’t show up too often, sadly. For most of the game, well-crafted, yet disappointing, ambiance plays that fits with the general area, which is unusual for Metroid games that have addictive area themes that stick in your head, which this game, sadly, doesn’t have very much of (and the good music here is mostly remade versions of other Metroid music). After you beat the game though, you get a different title screen theme that actually sounds very good.
Don’t worry though, Metroid fans: even though this game is very different from the others, the gameplay still lives up to it’s classic Metroid roots. There’s lots of hidden upgrades to find, though once you beat the game they’re revealed on your map to find. If you can find them on your own, however, it’s very satisfying as some are very well hidden (though not to the point where it’s frustrating). Boss battles are very thrilling and challenging; I actually died about six (or so) times going through the game the first time! To make the game even more challenging, after you’ve found all of the upgrades in the game, you unlock an awesome Hard Mode where you get to go through the game with absolutely no upgrades at all; that’s only 99 energy and 10 missiles!
I’m still going through this mode and I’ve already died a fair share of times, as the enemies later in the game can really take a toll on your energy. Regardless of difficulty, however, it’s still a very fun game on it’s own, even if it wasn’t a Metroid game.
EDIT: I’ve just finished going through Hard Mode, and it was actually less challenging than I expected. I did die about 20-ish times, but all you really need to know is when to dodge attacks and when to fire back (and specifically what weapon to fire back with). It took me about 4 hours to beat the game on Hard Mode, relative to the 12-ish hours it took the first time, which is probably because I knew what I was doing, skipped every cutscene, and didn’t get any items (since there weren’t any).
In the end, even with it’s minor flaws, Metroid: Other M is a fantastic example of how to make a great adventure game, and is actually one of my favorite Metroid games now! The atmosphere and story are engaging, the gameplay’s challenging, and the controls are precise and intuitive. Even if you aren’t a Metroid fan, you’ll love this game; you just have to be reasonably good at games in general to enjoy this.
The Verdict: 5/5
(PS: I use the X-Play rating system, as in, no fractions and 1-through-5 ratings)
Rent or Buy: Buy
One small thing to note, though, about this game: don’t pay $50 for it, if you can. It doesn’t last as long as the Prime games, though it’s still awesome. If you can find it for $40 or lower, I say go for it! You won’t regret getting this awesome game! 🙂
Violence: Any and all violence in this game is purely defensive; the hordes of creatures on the Bottle Ship are lethal, and if you don’t kill them, they’ll kill you. Enemies die in puffs of purple-ish smoke instead of blood, which is incredibly unrealistic and somewhat unfortunate, but then again the game isn’t supposed to be realistic. Blood is found, however, on the walls, floor, and corpses of some enemies, but is used entirely as a “decoration” used to evoke a fearful response (especially involving a certain “furby-like” creature part-way through the game), though it is not very common at all.
Horror: There is always a light level of horror present in the game, but not to the point where I’d call it a “horror survival”-type game. Enemies appear out of nowhere, burst through windows, appear out of the shadows, and have devastating attacks that can kill you within a few hits, sometimes. The story itself also has some scary, thrilling elements, but it’s nothing that a kid that watches Avatar: The Last Airbender can’t handle well.
Sexual content: Virtually none; however, Samus is sometimes seen in a skin-tight “Zero Suit” when her Power Suit isn’t activated. Fortunately, it isn’t exploited for “fan-service” and is handled very maturely (that is, they don’t make her act all sexy-like in it and don’t have exploiting camera angles). She is only seen in her Zero Suit in a few, relatively short sequences (when compared to the full game), as well as the end-game sequence, where you’re required to play in it, though it’s pretty fun since Samus is not as powerful and can’t use all of her weapons.
Overall Maturity Level: Pre-teen+
The game is very challenging at times, and could cause some people, especially children who aren’t quite well-experienced in video games, to want to quit. A kid that’s too young might also find the game a little too scary or violent at times. The story, atmosphere, and gameplay are all intended for a reasonably mature audience, but not the “bad” kind of mature where things like violence and sex are thrown in just to get the game a high rating. All of the content in this game is handled extremely well and maturely, and I would qualify the game as perfectly “safe”, so long as you’re old enough to withstand a little blood, creepiness, and challenging gameplay. If you are not entirely sure whether or not a certain kid you know would enjoy the game, rent it for them and see it for yourself.