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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Nintendo
Developed By: Team Ninja / Nintendo
Genre: Action Adventure
Players: 1
Rated: T (Teen)
Release Date: August 31, 2010
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matt Guile

September 10, 2010 - When I initially started Metroid: Other M, I could not help but feel disappointed. Sure, it felt like Metroid to an extent, but something was off. That something was my expectations of what Metroid 'is' supposed to be. So, realizing this, I liberated myself from Metroid for a few days, planning to return and start anew. With that in mind, a new game was started and Metroid: Other M became exposed from the fog of what Metroid 'is' supposed to be, to what Metroid is now, as one of the most engrossing, entertaining, and memorable video games ever played. Naturally though, it is not without its faults.

With that said, Metroid: Other M is hard to define as it is something that has never been made, but essentially, it is a mix of Metroid and Ninja Gaiden, accompanied with a classic Resident Evil vibe. While some will initially feel that Team Ninja has killed what has 'made' Metroid so great by making it an action title, the game later proves itself to still be very much like 'classic' Metroid, and yet drastically different. Therefore, with the fact that it is so different, Metroid fans may be thrown for a loop, but once fans and newcomers adapt to the game, like I did when I restarted my file, it proves itself under the heralded Metroid name.

Fundamentally, this game is a 3D game that acts like a 2D game, making it 2.5D, and yet, it seamlessly transfers into full out 3D environments without a hitch. Basically it took what Super Mario Galaxy did with 2D and 3D game play and amplified it, and thanks to intelligent camera angles, it works brilliantly, with one exception. Backtracking through environments where the camera was initially placed behind Samus can be a bit annoying, as the camera does not move from its initial placement, so, Samus is running towards the camera when backtracking in these areas, making blind spots in front of the player.

Other M's control scheme is easy to pick up, and it is precise, and innovative. Players just have to hold the Wii remote sideways, left thumb on the control pad or A button to move or go into morph ball mode, with the other thumb on the 1 or 2 button, shooting and jumping. Then there is first-person mode, where players just have to point the controller at the screen, which gives the player a new perspective, akin to Super Paper Mario's 3D effect. With first-person mode, now, players are not allowed to move, but they are allowed to manually aim with their blaster, lock-on, grapple, scan (for specific portions) and fire missiles. Granted, players lose the ability to walk or aim manually with this control scheme, while moving, but it does not matter, as the game works just fine without these options, as it never will make sense to walk, and auto-aim takes care of shots in any direction, as long as Samus is facing in that direction.

Contrasting against previous Metroid titles, Other M insists on high paced, epic battles, which is what Team Ninja does best, and it translates well into the Metroid universe. With such a simple control scheme though, it may sound like it could get boring quickly, but thanks to the ability to dodge attacks (fully charging your beam, if you're charging), cinematic finishers (heavy attacks), missiles, bombs, and other abilities, it will rarely not be entertaining. Now, while the game may be more combat oriented, it definitely still has a lot of exploring and puzzles; the highlight, however, is action.

With its shift in gameplay focus, Other M takes the good and bad elements of action games along with it. Invisible, illogical walls being one of those faults. While it may seem like Samus can jump over a specific rail to jump down or jump on a specific platform (bush, etc.) to get up another way, she can't because of invisible walls that are meant to keep players in the bounds of where and when the game developers want players to venture, which can take players out of their immersion factors. Even so, players are still given a great deal of freedom and are allowed to jump where it would seem logical to be able to, it's just that a lot of the time, this is not the case. Enemies like in many other action games can also just generally become punching bags that carry no reward, that can be avoided.

Speaking further on level design, Other M is designed very well. Many of the environments are imaginative, and full of very hard to find items that take some creative thinking, for players looking to achieve 100% completion. Players will be switching into 2D foregrounds, and coming into 3D areas and vice-versa on a constant basis without problem. However, as mentioned, there are problems with invisible walls and a seemingly intentional means to prevent the use of the speed booster. While, most of the time the speed booster can be utilized, when earned, a lot of the game is designed to prevent its use. However, this could be a conscious decision on Team Ninja's part to mask loading times. When playing through the game, going as fast as possible, players will begin to notice loading notifications, where the game often freezes to load the next area. Players taking the game at an average pace though will hardly notice loading notifications.

Two additional nuances, not necessarily tied to level design are first and foremost, the forced scanning sessions in this game. Without notice, the game will occasionally stop the game with little to no clues given on what to look for, forcing players to find whatever Samus is supposed to notice, not allowing the game to progress till said is done. While it is generally decent at giving players a clue as to what to look for, most of the time, it is not and just becomes a frustration to the player. Overall, this portion would have been better off as in-game cinematics. The other major complaint is the permission system that allows Samus to use specific abilities when given permission to use said ability. It makes sense from a story perspective and is a nice twist in comparison to losing everything, but from a design standpoint, it sometimes makes little sense because players may be under the impression that he or she can solve something in a particular room to only learn that he or she was missing an ability and just had to leave the area to be given permission to use a particular ability.

Graphically, the game is top notch, for the most part. Some areas are a bit less attractive than others, but that generally happens in video games. Despite this, the game overall could be mistaken for a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 game. Its presentation also goes beyond the call, so, simply said, its presentation values ranging from cinematics to theater mode to the gallery and so forth are top quality.

Metroid is not normally known for blowing players away with story, but no other Nintendo game has ever had a story as prominent as it is in Other M. Matter of fact, there is hardly a single video game that is not a role-playing game that has story as cinematic, polished, and compelling. To explain, this is a story about a woman, not a heartless super soldier, and her status to those she cares most for. That is only the basis of how Metroid: Other M begins, however, as it starts to become much more complex, drawing on three plot lines as the game progresses, eventually tying together, told through in-game cinematics and absolutely beautifully done CGI.

Continuing on about Other M's story, it is fleshed out, and very much sci-fi, which is what someone would suspect from Metroid. Essentially, this game is the Metroid movie fans have been waiting for, that can be enjoyed by people illiterate of the Metroid universe as well, thanks to its polished theater mode, which is unlocked after finishing the game. While most games make players go through the game to see the story again, Other M does not thanks to its theater, which allows players to watch a little over two hours of the game's story consecutively, with or without subtitles.

At the end of the day, Metroid: Other M's play value can be debated, but for minimalist, it's about an eight to nine hour game. On the other hand, for people who attempt to get 100%, it could last upwards of twelve hours. Replaying the game on hard will add another eight to ten, and watching the movie can add a bit to the game's overall value. Make no mistake about it though, Metroid: Other M is still 'Metroid,' interjected with a high-quality story, intense combat, and plenty of item hunting that will make the time spent well worth it.


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