A new adventure for Samus on the Wii.
There was a point, not that long ago, that it was revealed to the world that the hero of the Metroid games, Samus Aran, was female. It seemed that almost overnight the heavily armoured bounty hunter developed a more “feminine” shape. I suppose that this stands to reason, given that Samus was probably assumed to be male for quite a while. However, with the revelation of Samus’ gender, fans of the series wanted to know more about this bounty hunter and her past. Subsequent games in the series have revealed more and more about this enigmatic character. But this latest installment, Other M, is about to unleash a torrent of back story from Samus.
There are a couple of real stand out features of Metroid: Other M. But let’s start with the story. The long and short of it is that Samus answers a distress call from a space station seemingly in trouble. Upon arrival, she is met by a team of Galactic Federation soldiers who, begrudgingly it seems, allow her to join their ranks for the investigation of the station.
This story is intertwined with flashbacks to past events and to Samus’ time in the Galactic Federation army. Through this, we get to see more about how she ended up as a bounty hunter. It turns out that Samus actually served with or under some of these soldiers with which she has now teamed up.
The cutscenes within the game are plentiful and give the game a very cinematic feel. Both the cutscenes and the overall graphics are finished to a very high standard that really seems to push the Wii to it’s limits. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a better looking game on the Nintendo console. The same can be said of the voice and sound work throughout, with one exception. The game is constantly bombarded by monologue from Samus. Whilst this may well be very informative, the way in which it is delivered does nothing to encourage interest. Her voice is very bland and monotonous. Whilst I am sure that she has a reason for talking in this way, it does nothing to build the atmosphere in the game.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the game are the controls. The player moves around using the WiiMote sideways, in a similar manner to some of the platform games on the Wii. There is a jump button, a shoot button, and even a button to have Samus turn into her little ball thing. But where the genius comes in is by turning the controller and pointing at the screen, the game immediately goes into a first person mode. Holding down the trigger button allows Samus to investigate her surroundings and find or interact with highlighted items. Samus can even attack whilst in this mode, as is quite often necessary during certain battles. But it is worth remembering that she cannot move.
Now this method of control may sound a bit finicky, and you would be right, to start with at least. It takes a bit of getting used to and quickly changing from one view to the other will take some practice, which is not ideal given the fact that the enemies, boss battles especially, are quite difficult. But dying is not such a big deal, as the game pleasingly saves for you regularly, meaning you never have to go back to far.
But there will be times, during the “learning how to use this control method” phase when the player will find that they were not quite pointing straight at the screen when they pulled the trigger button, resulting in a nausea inducing spin. The biggest problem is going from the regular view to the first-person, rather than the other way around, simply because the controller does not move comfortably from horizontal to pointing at the screen with all of the fingers on the right buttons. For this reason, taking out a nest in first-person mode requires timing more than anything else – take out all of the enemies, then quickly to first-person and shoot the nest, before returning to normal before being attacked again. It can be very chaotic.
The game gradually introduces Samus’ new weapons and abilities under the guise that they have to be authorised before use. This is a great way of not overwhelming the player with things to remember all at once, and allows the player to get used to whatever new weapon/ability before unlocking the next.
There is plenty of fun to be had here, especially for fans of the series. Plenty of enjoyable battles, including some epic boss battles, loads of gadgets and weapons to play with, and an enjoyable story. But the game is filled with an abundance of cut scenes that, although there for a reason, just don’t add anything to the game. Some may have issues with the game, but with practice these problems should sort themselves out. If you have the patience to practice, that is.
This latest adventure in the Metroid series may not be to everyone’s taste. But it offers a plenitude of alien blasting fun, as long as the player can get to grips with the controls and overlook the numerous cutscenes and droning of Samus’ voice.