Once the story actually gets going, though, really pick up and you quickly forget all the brooding introspection. The mystery behind the distressed ship and the appearance of the marines develops into a really interesting story, even if it does make use of some standard science fiction clichés like lava and ice levels.
Combat in Metroid Other M relies more on the originality of the enemies and the bright spectacle of weapons fire than on the actual mechanics. The auto-aim function helps greatly to deal with multiple enemies, but you'll begin to feel almost as if there's not much challenge in standing on one edge of the screen and just hammering the fire button to take out your enemies. It's true that certain invulnerabilities of the enemies require some thought, but for the most part combat is more about watching what happens rather than making lots of interesting decisions. The interesting decisions begin to pile up once you during the exploration elements, but even here the solutions are fairly narrow and you have to rely on Adam to give you permission to use your most impressive abilities.
I appreciate the changing perspectives in the game, particularly the seamless and liberating transition from 2D to 3D platformer. Having that back wall open up and give you access to an entirely new dimension of movement is downright invigorating. The way the game handles the movement between these two modes of play is fantastic. I'm less impressed with the first-person aiming system. It's a promising idea but it doesn't mesh well with the rest of the game design. You'll have to use it, of course, because it's the only way you can advance through certain points of the story and, more importantly, the only way to fire the missiles required to kill certain bosses. The problem is that you can't move while aiming and, given the speed at which most of the game's later bosses move and fight, it raises the challenge to an unfriendly level.
Bottom Line: It would be easy to write Metroid Other M off on the basis of the few things it gets wrong but the combat and exploration elements are strong enough to overcome these limitations. The combat is intense, if a bit uneven in terms of the overall challenge, and the exploration elements are enjoyable.
Recommendation: Metroid fans will like the overall direction of most of the new elements, even if the execution is a bit off.
Like several other women in his life, Steve Butts liked Samus more before he got to know her.
Game: Metroid: Other M
Genre: Action Adventure
Developer: Team Ninja
Release Date: August 31, 2010
Available from: Amazon