Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Metroid Other M: A not review

      I should begin by saying that this is not a review.  A review implies that I have completely played the game, it can judge it fairly on all points from beginning to end.  I did not do that.  I could not subject myself to that.  This is a series of complaints, every reason why I will not be playing Metroid: Other M anymore.
            The game is very story-heavy.  In theory, this should be a good thing for Metroid.  It’s usually either light or optional on story.  In practice, it means beautiful looking but dull cutscenes where Samus, voice-acted by somebody who sounds as enthusiastic as if they were narrating a nature documentary on grass growing, waxes philosophical and generally fails to shut up and let me get back to the action.  In my playtime, which was all of Sector 1 so I imagine the story eventually picks up, the story itself went nowhere.  It showed that Adam was Samus’ superior officer…but anybody who played Metroid Fusion already knows that.  There’s no point to it.  Some games live on story, thrive on it, throw you into half-hour cutscenes of it.  If it’s going to turn out like this, Metroid is not one of those games.  It also enjoys railroading you down dead-end paths just so it can progress the story.  At least put the story on the path I was going to take instead of having me go down a path for no reason other than story.
            The controls are awkward.  It uses the sideways Wiimote to play.  In order to fire missiles, you point the Wiimote at the screen, which puts Samus in first-person and locks her in place.  For a very frantic, action-heavy game like Metroid, this is a bad thing.  What I really don’t understand is why they didn’t have the completely-unused minus button to switch between beams and missiles.  Or even more sensibly, have you hook up a nunchuk, giving it an extra 2 buttons and a control stick to work with.  Every other game I can remember playing with the sideways Wiimote was either a sidescroller or something similar to a racing game.  Other M is neither, so why do it this way?
            There’s two ways to regenerate health, and neither of them involve getting health powerups from the enemies you kill, like every other game in the series.  One is to save your game.  The other games have this, so no complaints here.  The other is concentration.  Concentration is a terrible idea.  Basically, if your health goes below 25, you can hold the Wiimote up and hold A and Samus will charge up for a few seconds to get her health back.  Here’s the thing: if your health’s below 25, you’re getting your butt kicked hard.  You don’t have time or cover to stand still for several seconds.  It’s more of a taunt than anything.  It generally has the end result of making the game unfairly hard, and is the main reason I decided to stop playing it.  I don’t mind fair difficulty in my games, but once you’re removing stuff that’s been in every other entry in the series to make the game harder, you’ve stopped being fair a long time ago.
            There’s other problems throughout.  The authorization system.  Instead of collecting power-ups, you start out with all of them, and Adam “authorizes” you to use them.  This is dumb.  As far as I know, even people who like the game think this is dumb.  For one, why not authorize Samus to have her best suit from the start?  She already has it, and do you really want a weaker soldier running around?  For two, you still find some power-ups, and Samus doesn’t need authorization for those.  Samus will slow-walk in some areas, switching to a behind-the-back camera, similar to the recent Resident Evil games.  There are two problems with this: Nobody likes not moving at full speed, and the behind-the-back camera would be a much better fit for the game.  Instead, you’re stuck with a fixed camera that seems to be trying to emulate the sidescrolling Metroids, but again, this isn’t a sidescroller so why?  This is one of the best-looking games on the Wii, why not give me a better view of it?  And finally, the pixel hunts.  Suddenly, Samus decides to look around, and you have to search around for that magic thing she wants you to find.  I once spent upwards of 5 minutes looking around a screen before eventually finding some near-invisible larvae.  Which had no effect on the next cutscene.
             There are some moments where the game actually proved to be fun, a few shining examples where things just clicked.  And some people do like this game.  Even if I did do a full review of it, I would point out that it’s worth giving it a try if it still sounds like something you’d like.  Just remember, from everything I read about it, I thought I would love it.  Now I’m just done.

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