Like I told you guys, I got to go see Metroid: Other M on Friday. I watched a 20 minute demo of mostly cutscenes with a little gameplay, then got to play about 15 minutes myself consisting of only gameplay.
To be honest, I don’t really know what I was expecting. I’ve never been a massive Metroid fan, and I only really got into the Prime series when I tried out the Trilogy version. Even then, I didn’t get far into it before I got the thing stolen and had to rebuy it then return it to my friend. Other M appears to be catering to both fans of Prime (the 3D perspective) and the old side-scrolling adventures (2D and only using the Wiimote). Which I knew already, so I suppose I was expecting that. But the bulk of my feelings from this event fall into the other two categories.
Although I knew that Other M was supposed to be story heavy, I suppose I thought that meant “for Nintendo”. The opening cutscene was epic and lengthy, and after the game started, they didn’t really let up. It was a little off-putting, but after I let myself relax, I found that I was enjoying the scenes. The voice acting and writing isn’t the greatest, but like Kingdom Hearts it appears to be sincere and character focused enough for me to get into it anyway. I like how the focus was on Samus’ point of view, and how she would narrate her feelings and reactions to the situations and people around her. There’s obviously more than enough room for the story and scenes to be largely terrible, but they were better than I was expecting.
In terms of gameplay, I was happily surprised to find that the 2D gameplay doesn’t seem to be restrictive in terms of traditional Metroid exploration. It’s because you can actually move in and out of the environments, making it more like 2 and a half D, as much as I dislike that term.
Another pleasant surprise was how intuitive the transition between 2D and 3D was. Pointing at the screen then going back to the SNES-style position was smooth as butter, and alleviated my fears of fighting with the controls in that respect.The Mixed
Despite the smooth transition between perspectives, I’m still not sold on it. While I never got annoyed during the demo, I’m hesitant to say that I don’t expect to get frustrated that I can’t move around while in first person, especially because of the similar visual look to the Prime series.
I mean, the game at least seemed to react appropriately depending on your choice of perspective. 2D combat is frantic and fast, and the 3D seems to be more forgiving in terms of timing, but requires precise aiming as opposed to the auto-aim in 2D mode. That, however, doesn’t mean that the 3D perspective adds anything yet, and I’m completely unconvinced so far. Like always, I’m willing to change my mind, and I hope I end up liking it.
The only thing that struck me as outright bad was something of relatively little consequence to the experience. The way Other M handles Samus’ suit and weapon upgrades is that she’ll only use the equipment that she’s authorized to use. That’s dumb and will likely take me out of the game every time a little message pops up that says “Samus is choosing not to use her missiles out of respect for Captain Whoever’s orders”. Losing all your power-ups at the beginning of the game is just as silly, but at least it only happens once.
Another thing I should mention is that Nintendo made sure to point out that despite the heavy focus on story, Metroid: Other M will retain its traditional mood of loneliness. And from the little I saw, that actually appears to be true. The cutscenes are full of people, but the levels are solitary and have a classic Metroid feel. Only one boss battle included other characters, but it didn’t detract from the mood for me.
So that’s it. The demo made me cautiously optimistic for the title. At this point, it really could go either way.