There are a few things about Metroid Other M that deserve praise; there are also things that deserve a foam bat to the head. This game did an excellent job of translating Metroid's core play mechanics to 3-D; the result is a game with the freedom of movement of a 3-D game combined with the intuitive controls of a 2-D game. There are hiccups; the sideways Wii-mote controls are unneccessarily restrictive, most egregiously limiting use of missiles to the awkwardly-implemented first-person mode. Metroid's trope-making game flow, however, is not kept intact, with all exploration elements being surgically removed; the player is kept on rails right up until the end and power-ups are mostly handed to you as you need them. The lack of exploration elements, while not intrinsically bad, is incredibly jarring in a Metroid game as well as disappointing, considering the freedom to explore that usually comes as a result of upgrading to 3-D. There are a number of unneccessary elements that add little to the play experience and could easily be done without, namely the Focus mechanic, the aforementioned first-person mode, and the constant, infuriating Pixel Hunts (imagine Wheres Waldo, where Waldo is a dark green smear on dull green grass in a poorly-lit green room). The writing... meh. It's trying hard, and it fails just as hard. The doomed GF troops are too flat to really care about (excepting Anthony, of course), the villain was cool but would have been more effective if their backstory wasn't told via a flashback long after any chance of resolving things peacefully had faded, and Samus' new characterisation could easily have been explored more deeply. Her idolisation of Adam would be much less unsettling if we were actually shown more examples of him being a loving foster father, instead of a careless, controlling jerk; I'm sure they're there, but it doesn't work unless they're shown. What makes Other M disappointing is that it's easy to see how it could be better. The base mechanics are all there; remove the Pixel Hunts and tacked-on first-person mode, improve or excise the story, and give the player more freedom to explore, and you would have a Metroid to remember. Other M is still enjoyable, despite its flaws. I feel perfectly secure in holding out for a Surprisingly Improved Sequel.
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