Saturday, October 16, 2010

Metroid Other M Impression

Samus, much like Mario, dominated the 2D gaming landscape then made a successful transition to 3D, in first-person shooter mode even. Unlike Mario Samus and the Metroid franchise has been waiting for that current generation killer app, that title that takes Metroid to another level in the same manner that Galaxy launched Mario to new levels. Enter Metroid: Other M for the Nintendo Wii. Is Other M the title Metroid fans have been waiting for? Is Samus going to take the franchise into another glorious direction or will she stumble, lost in space? Let's find out shall we.

Gameplay – Picking up where Samus left off in 1994, this adventure reveals more about the woman in the suite while keeping the action expected from a Metroid title front and center in both third-person and first-person perspectives. The game unfolds as Samus investigates a distress call on a space station, encounters the Galactic Federation and reveals many key elements of her past related to both the station, the Federation and a certain captain. The game progresses in third-person mode and the first-person perspective is needed only for shooting (never mind that gamers can’t move in this mode). Yes it’s a change from the normal Metroid but so was Prime when it came out and they got the formula right.

Graphics – The environments look and feel Metroid (very alien) while ship sequences are cold in a realistic way. Creatures look familiar with some great new boss encounters and of course Samus looks amazing, best game look yet. The graphics shine, one of the better aspects of the game. The lighting effects, monster colors, environments all look great. Outside of the Super Mario Galaxy games on Wii gamers will be very hard pressed to find a better looking title on Wii.

Sound – Overall the voice work is solid with a few bossy/cheesy performances but it moves the story along. The soundtrack, background music, weapons and environment effects are so icon and sound great. Like Mario and Zelda the Metroid franchise has very iconic tunes that tie every game together. Other M is no exception and it helps gamers adapt to the new third-person, first-person hybrid gameplay. Solid sound, solid.

Design – Levels are as fun and engaging as ever with upgrades and weapons needed to advance to new levels (done by permission this time rather than finding an upgrade). The boss encounters are solid but it’s the mixture of gameplay types that warrants discussion. The move to a third-person, 3D setting is very, very welcome but mixing in first-person turn-the-Wii-controller to shoot missiles action is … interesting. At first it’s a bit tough to get a handle on but soon gamers will be running, loading, turning, firing and repeating. It’s really a love or hate aspect since it require more than just button presses. It works but could use some refinement.

Miscellaneous – The continued story of Samus. No matter where the story point’s fall this is one bounty hunter who gamers love learning more about. She’s a strong female figure with 8-bit ties to gaming’s history so why can’t she get more love?

Overall, we’re part way there when asking is Other M does for Samus what Galaxy did for Mario. It’s a great Wii effort, a fun and action packed game with many great Metroid elements (exploring, shooting) enhanced with a deeper story but it’s still not on the level of Galaxy. There are better ways to switch from third to first-person, there have to be, other than stopping and basically becoming an immobile turret. Why not allow movements in first-person with the nunchuck? This is the biggest gripe which should be noted but will not take away from a good gameplay experience that builds on the legend of one of gaming’s greatest hero’s, period.

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