Metroid: Other M PreviewBy Abbie Heppe - Posted Feb 25, 2010
Metroid: Other M has piqued my curiosity more than most upcoming games. I love the franchise, but I’m bewildered at the seemingly odd marriage of Team Ninja and Nintendo. I asked about the origin, and will shamefully toss to the interview that will soon be on X-Play, but it appears it was born "in the depths of Japan," so for now I will focus on my more tangible experience with the game.
The verdict on Other M is still out. I played through the beginning of the game, and the amount of exposition and character for Samus is both fascinating and frightening. For a character whose biggest reveal previously was that she is a woman, it is almost mind-boggling to compare the character that Samus is for me with the character Samus is to Sakamoto, the creator of the series.
She seems detached, but her voice is almost timid and more feminine than I had imagined. Perhaps that assessment is unfair, having recently completed Mass Effect 2 and grown accustomed to my very badass (but very Paragon) Captain Shepard. As much as Samus has become a part of my gaming life, she is not me nor mine to own or describe; she has always been compellingly mysterious. Hopefully we won't see too much sexualization of the character (it has to be mentioned, given Team Ninja's catalog) but again, it incredible to see her fleshed out into something...human.
Gameplay wise, Metroid: Other M finds a home between the classic 2D style and the first-person re-imagining of Metroid Prime. Almost ironically, so does the story. It's feels almost like a game made after its time, falling between Fusion (if your memory and knowledge of the series is on par, you'll recognize one very important character, Adam Malkovich, right away) and Prime. It feels as if it *should* have been made between the two, to bridge players into a very different experience in the first-person milieu.
Post-destruction of the Mother Brain, Samus finds herself back in action and following a distress signal, nicknamed "a baby's cry" (get it? like the baby Metroid that gave its life...maybe?) and discovers that the crew currently investigating the signal is none other than her compatriots and former captain in the Galactic Federation before she became a bounty hunter. It's clear that she and Adam have a history, but well, some things are yet to be revealed.
While the stripping of Samus' power's seems extremely artificial in this iteration (it appears due to taking orders from Adam), the core of Metroid gameplay is definitely at home here. The other element that bothered me (and may have been due to the set up of the sensor bar) is switching to the first-person view (by pointing the Wii remote at the screen) yet it is necessary for using missiles and scanning objects. It just feels like a halt to the flow of the game and can be frustrating during more chaotic action sequences. There is a clear change to combat with close-quarters action at play here, Samus performs melee combat moves like leaping on an enemy’s back and putting a beam shot through his/her head, and more. It's very Team Ninja, but I wasn't clear on how much of the melee I was doing rather than the game doing it for me. Felt like the latter.
I associate the Metroid games with a feeling of loneliness, so it was a surprise to interact with people as much as I did in the short demo I played. Clearly, there are secrets about this game (abilities, plot, etc.) but it is nonetheless clearly a brainchild of two different teams, and my curiosity has me itching to know more. Will the exploration factor of Prime come into play more? Will there be new weaponry or abilities? Will I lose the crew I seem to be currently tied to? Where can I find Ridley? I don't know, but I am excited to find out as much as I am innately frightened to see Samus and Other M reveal what has always been a private mythology in my head. I'm fascinated but as I mentioned earlier, I need to see more.