Review: Metroid: Other M

After the unbelievably successful Metroid Prime trilogy, Nintendo decided to enlist the assistance of Team Ninja, who are best known for their contributions to other well-liked series such as Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive to assist with the next evolution of the Metroid franchise. While some parts of this game shine and feel as though they are an updated version of the classic title, Super Metroid, not all of the changes and updates feel very welcome.

The first things that fans will notice is the stylistic change that has taken place in the visuals. In the Metroid Prime trilogy, Samus' first venture into the 3D gameplay, the visuals were realistic and very Halo-esque. With Metroid: Other M, however, there is a definite influence of Team Ninja. Everything looks a little exaggerated, as the graphics are in Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden, so they take a little bit to get used to. One thing that will remain familiar to Metroid fans is the theme of darkness.

As far as the quality of graphics is concerned, the game looks good, but it definitely suffers from the lack of HD capability on the Wii. The game truly looks like a higher end Gamecube game, showcasing some great color and contrast in the scheme, but in the end, they just don't pop off the screen as they do on titles from earlier on in the PS3 and Xbox 360 lifespan. Add that to the jagged edges that some characters will have in their outline and you have a title that looks good compared to other Wii titles, but pales in comparison to titles on other platforms.

Another area of this game that is heavily influenced by Team Ninja is the gameplay. Samus runs through the levels much like Ryu from Ninja Gaiden, athletically speeding through the levels and acrobatically jumping from platform to platform. While this is not unlike the earlier Metroid titles, the comparison can be traced back to not the way Samus is controlled, but how she feels when she is being controlled.

While the third person controls are tight and fitting for the game, those that do not like the controls in the Ninja Gaiden franchise will not like this change. The biggest issue comes when players switch to the often-used first person mode to target specific enemies or objectives. While this is the type of thing that the Wii should excel at due to its one edge over the 360 and PS3, this add-on to the core gameplay just seems forced and unnecessary.

It really has nothing to do with the first person view itself, to be frank. Instead, it has to do with the fact that it feels counterintuitive to be play the whole game with the controller sideways, then suddenly point the remote at the screen. That's not all that happens when you point the controller at the screen with the Wiimote, however. Once you make that slightly awkward transition, the camera will rush forward and the player will be required to find their bearings under the new view. It may sound nitpicky, but it definitely has the potential to give the enemies that are currently attacking an advantage.

Really, the only part where this game is anything but average is the story. The story features a much more feminine version of Samus. We hear about her struggles with being the only girl soldier and her difficulty in dealing with authority. The biggest downside has to be the voice acting. The characters will sometimes sound more disinterested than anything. While the story can be whiny, it has certainly been blown out of proportion.

One thing that has brought this game a fair amount of heat has been the so-called sexist undertones of the storyline. The game, despite the controversy, isn't sexist. As mentioned before, the game features a storyline that does, in fact, deal with sexism and the idea that its tough being a female soldier, but the game itself certainly isn't.

The part that has brought a lot of attention towards this subject is a part where Samus refuses to use her missiles and bombs until the man gives her permission. What the people stirring the controversy neglect to mention is that this man is the commanding officer and that she does it out of respect for his mission. The story may not be the most appealing to some, but it certainly isn't sexist.

All in all, Metroid Other M might be getting a bit of a bad reputation just because it is in the series that has constantly put out classic game after classic game. The game is a very average experience with a slightly below average story and some way above average moments that will stick with you. Fans of Metroid might be disappointed, but fans of the action/adventure platforming genre will definitely want to check this out.