Thursday, September 30

Metroid: Other M semi-review

    When I last posted on Metroid: Other M I said it was fairly good. Since then, my opinion has changed for the worse - drastically. There have been plenty of complaints on the internet about Samus's portrayal and there have been many defenses against those complaints. Well, I agree with both.The game certainly has it's problems, but their not completely indefensible. I don't hate the game, but I hate several things about it. Let me explain.

    First of all, cut-scenes can't ever be skipped, paused, or re-watched. What happens if you get an important phone call? What happens if you have to go to the bathroom? What about people who don't care about a game's story and just want to play? In this day and age unskippable, unpausable cutscenes are inexcusable - especially when they're over 20 minutes long. I had to go to youtube several times to catch bits of story that I missed because I had to shift my attention elsewhere. I don't want to single this one out as I've been seeing lots of this problem lately, but it's still inexcusable.

     Another bad thing is the storytelling. It's not really a bad story and it had a couple touching moments, but it felt like Team Ninja (the game's developers) was trying to make a Metal Gear Solid game. The delivery is far too melodramatic for a franchise that's had a simple, straight forward story until now. It's mostly told through Samus's monologues. Not only that, but these monologues are far too wordy and delivered in the most monotone way possible. Most of these monologues could easily be replaced with real conversations and using facial expressions to convey emotion rather than explaining it through empty words. With few exceptions, these cut-scenes are boring. To make a long story short, Samus has gone straight from almost never speaking to never shutting up about "the baby" (the baby metroid from "Metroid 2" and "Super Metroid.")

    I'm not really sure they should have given Samus a personality in the game. Here you have one of gaming's most influential icons and one of it's most attractive yet non-sexualized female characters. Over the years, she's been the playable character throughout the Metroid series, and until Metroid: Other M she's been without a properly defined personality. In that sense, she's similar to someone like Master Chief of Halo and Gordon Freeman of Half Life. She's been a blank slate, allowing the player to chose her personality. Metroid fans have collectively decided that she's a brave bad*** bounty hunter and there's nothing wrong with that. The danger of giving a blank-slate character a personality is that you're going to anger or disappoint somebody. Now that doesn't mean that that fans were right to think she's hardcore, but when you have a blank slate for over 20 years it's best to keep it that way.

    Needless to say, Samus is not portrayed in Other M as fans have come to know her. She's portrayed as being self-doubting, sad, overly submissive, and kind of obsessive. She has this strange obsession with this fatherly figure, Commander Adam Malkovich. We've never seen this Adam character before Other M and Samus has never shown any dependence before, so why is Team Ninja slamming this down our throats? Samus is almost completely submissive to this Adam character, even to the point where she is incapable of independent thought. She starts the game off with all her suit upgrades, but obeys completely when Adam requests her to de-activate everything but her regular blaster. Until you nearly reach the end of the game, she will not re-activate any of her powers without Adam's direct permission - even if she's putting herself in unnecessary danger because of it. For example, there's one section where you're running around in a hot lava room, constantly taking damage because your regular suit can't take the heat. Only 20 minutes into this hot area does Adam authorize your varia suit (heat protection suit.) It's her inability to use independent that really bothers me with this game.

this entire next paragraph is one big spoiler

    The worst part for me was when Samus encounters a full grown Ridley again. In the past she's fought and defeated Ridley many times over. Somehow when she encounters Ridley here, she freezes in fear. Why? Seriously, why is Samus freezing in fear at the sight of a foe she's beaten down so many times he's little more than a pushover by now? In fact, this isn't even the same Ridley - he's a clone and she knows that. This Ridley is less experienced than the Ridley she killed in Super Metroid; this battle should be a cakewalk. Not to mention that this same scene includes a very poorly done fake character death.

end spoiler

    There are other story elements that bother me, but their minor enough that I won't bother complaining. The gameplay was generally pretty solid. It wasn't great but it worked - it was action-packed and it was generally satisfying. The only gameplay complaint I have is that on several occasions the game forces you to stand still and look around. You have to find something specific in the environment. It's not necessarily a bad idea, but the game's way too specific. Say you're looking for a dead man. The body's easy enough to find, but the game wants you to look at his barely visible badge that takes up three or four pixels on the screen. You'll also have to find a creature that is completely hidden in a bush. These sections can grind the game to a halt for 8 minutes if you don't know what you're looking for, and that's never a good thing.

    This isn't to say I hated the game, but I didn't like it either. It was just OK. There were tons of things that bothered me, but I enjoyed the main gameplay for the  most part. The story has it's moments, however few they were. It's also worth noting that this is by far the best looking Wii game I've ever seen. To be honest, it looks like an Xbox 360 game. The lighting is very advanced, the environments are well detailed, and the cut-scenes, as boring as they are, look absolutely beautiful. You can tell that Team Ninja put tons of effort into the game engine. It also reveals how lazy most other Wii developers really are. Most recent Wii games have no advanced lighting, no particle effects and...they're just lazy. Has the average developer given up on the Wii's hardware? Because it's clearly more capable then we've been lead to believe.

(this thumbs down is directed at Nintendo's utterly incompetent glitch fix)

    One last thing, and this is more of a problem with the Wii than the game itself. Metroid: Other M contains a game-breaking glitch. To set off this glitch, you have to meet some very specific circumstances (probably why it wasn't found and fixed.) The bigger and more complex games become, the more often this will happen and thus I won't count this against Metroid: Other M. On either the Xbox 360 or the PS3 you can patch a glitch like this, but with the Wii you simply can't. Nintendo's offered a fix, but you'll have to send them either an SD card with your save file or your Wii itself. This is just pathetic and it shows how limited Nintendo Wi-Fi really is. If they don't allow downloadable patches on the 3DS or their next home console than they'll likely be in trouble. Hopefully they'll learn from this, but I'm not holding my breath.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts on Metroid: Other M. I'll give it a pass, barely.

Two word review - mixed bag

1 comment:

  1. Wow,the gameplay is addictive, combat is fluid, if not a little buggy here and there. The graphics are the best you've ever seen on a Wii game, and seem to really push the machine's limit line nothing else. I recently collect my Metroid from at PIJ. Its amazing!!!