Metroid Other M
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-fi
ESRB Rating: Teen (13+)
Metroid Other M
Exclusive to almost every game system Nintendo has ever made, the Metroid series has long been lauded as the pinnacle of sci-fi action adventure. But that's only if you put the blinders on and forget that there are other game companies out there, other hardware and many other sci-fi action adventure games not made exclusively for Nintendo - if at all. With that big picture in mind, Metroid Other M is good, but in an industry where good is expected, good is therefore average.
On the upside, Metroid Other M certainly delivers a story fans can appreciate, which amounts to a "revealing" B-grade narrative about a girl and her space suit coming of age, told through lengthy - albeit seriously gorgeous - cut scenes, melodramatic dialogue and a bit of teleprompter text doled out at the speed of ESL.
What's new to the series - aside from our heretofore strong, silent Samus speaking in complete sentences for the first time and doing blonds around the world a driveling disservice while she's at it - is a control scheme that is at once inviting and yet questionably simple. Metroid Other M has you holding the Wii Remote controller (Wii-mote) candy bar-style, controlling Samus with the directional pad at the left, shooting and jumping with the two right buttons. It's totally old school, welcome and efficient in a 3-dimensional playing field shown from the 3rd-person perspective, conveniently delineated by corridors and cattle paths that hint at Metroid's 2-d, side-scrolling roots. An auto-aim feature further helps with the cathartic blasting of baddies and space critters with ever-upgrading arms and artillery while the occasional run in with unusually large, appreciably bizarre monsters takes a little more prudence when pegging assorted body parts in just the right order to take them out. The hardcore crowd might call it dumbed-down or maybe just "dumb," but there it is.
At any time, meanwhile, you can also switch to the 1st-person perspective in the game by pointing the Wii-mote at the screen whence it will seamlessly suck in to a helmet-headed view of the action and let you look around and hone and/or zoom in on specific targets and unleash a missile or three. Occasionally, this perspective is forced on you for a key event of some sort. You can't move while looking through Samus' eyes, so the shift is used mainly for getting your Where's-Waldo bearings once a room is cleared, or for long range targeting when nothing is gnawing at her feet, or for the short range chance to shoot a missile up some monster's nostril.
The action itself is typical run & gun fare (or roll & poop landmines fare when Samus balls up, as is her shtick), while the adventure bit - aside from triggering the aforementioned cut scenes and the narrative of b-grade profundity therein - mainly involves solving environmental puzzles, finding secret passageways, flicking switches to turn things on/off/up/down/sideways, or finding the super-mega-ultra missile that will blast open one particularly stalwart door or the other, and a whole lot of specific variants on that general theme.
It's good stuff, really, and Metroid Other M is certainly a good game; great on Wii and riding high on the action/adventure genre's bell curve in general. Still, it's certainly not the be all and end all sci-fi action adventures - though a zillion Nintendo loyalists and what's sure to be seven-figure sales will likely suggest otherwise.