Man, I'm a little rusty, just been out of reviewing for a while. But behold, Metroid has gotten me back in the groove. Unfortunately, that mood is not a "handing out high scores" mood. Other M is truly another meh. <div align="center"><img src="http://ve3dmedia.ign.com/images/04/91/49118_orig.jpg" border="0" class="linked-image" /></div> Nintendo decided to take a big leap of faith with Other M. They tried redesigning Metroid like they did with Prime. Different type of gameplay, different team, different styling. While I was no fan of Prime I can say they stuck it pretty well with that. This, on the other hand, while not a terrible fumble that will go down as one of gaming's worst leaps of faith (that award probably goes to some Sonic game), it certainly doesn't stick the landing. I can easily say Other M is the worst Metroid game out there except for Hunters (although the original Metroid is rather dated and clearly outdone by it's GBA remake). Still, as a game, it's definitely playable and you'll probably give it a run. If I was to go with the "skip it, pirate it, buy it" scale, I'd say pirate it. It's not worth your cash though. Other M's first big leap is that it focuses a lot of narrative. It's got a lot of cutscenes, lots of voice acting, and is definitely a departure from the usual "You're on a planet, shoot stuff" approach. The plot involves Samus after the events of Super Metroid receiving a distress signal from a remote and unknown facility. On board she meets up with her ex-commanding officer, Adam, and begins to unwind what the facility really is and your typical conspiracy stuff. I would've loved this if it actually worked well, but simply it doesn't. The game seems to rely on having a large, fleshed out universe that you'll know a lot about, but really you don't. Stuff like Space Pirates, the Galactic Federation, all that was just backdrops for the short summary you find in the manual of your game. It was never really fleshed out, and with Metroid's natural feel of isolation, it was hard to have it terribly fleshed out yourself. Cutscenes are also pretty poorly presented. A lot of the times it'll be a flashback from Samus' past that has really no relevance to the game. Maybe it'll add a little more context on a character but it's a minuscule amount of info for a character that you hardly see and will probably die off anyway. The script is also filled with poor word cliches and it hardly gives much depth to the characters or to the universe. The action cutscenes look cool and what not and I would've loved it to be cinematic in that sense, but having all these random and often uselessly boring flashbacks is not what I want. A quick side note, but probably the silliest presentation choice here was your unlocking of weapons. You see, Samus comes on board the ship with all her weapons. But as she joins Adam and his team, Adam tells her to only use weapons when authorized. So instead of defeating some bad guy and having him turn into a magical Super Missile upgrade, Adam will say "Okay, you can use this now". And it's not timed well. Through (most of) the game Adam has a direct feed through your visor. If I was him and I saw you were in front of a door that can only be busted with Super Missiles, I'd say "Samus, go ahead and bust open that door with some Super Missiles". Or when I'm half dead from running through an overheated area where my health is going down the drain, I think then would be a good time to authorize your Varia suit. And really, why would you require authorization for non-lethal equipment, like the Varia suit? I could see it for the Power Bomb and what not since it may be hazardous to the team but I doubt anyone is gonna get hurt from a Varia suit. But whatever, it's just a way to implement the whole "unlock upgrades as you go" thing. The gameplay here is also overhauled. First Metroid was in 2-D sidescrolling, then it went to a 3-D world in the first person. Now it's a 3-D world in the third person. The biggest worry I had for the game was luckily taken care of though: this is a Metroid game. There's plenty of backtracking to do and upgrades to unlock. With that out of the way, I thought this game was gonna be spectacular. But unfortunately it gets a whole host of other problems. First is controls. The game uses only the Wiimote, no Nunchuck, Gamecube, or Classic Controller support. And when you're in a fully 3-D world, it seems like a poor choice to only have a D-Pad to use over an analog stick. D-Pads in 3-D worlds aren't terrible but they're inferior in every way to an analog stick. The other thing with the game is that you can switch to first person when you turn the Wiimote towards the screen. This lets you grapple and shoot missiles among other things. Why couldn't I just put that to a button instead and use a Nunchuck? That way I'd always have my Wiimote ready to aim on screen, plus I'd get more buttons and an analog stick. It's just a poor design choice that I still don't comprehend. The game also totes a more "graphic" combat system with finishing moves and dodging and counter attacks, stuff you'd expect from Team Ninja. But that doesn't quite work so well either. First complaint with this is that there's no dodge button; dodging is mapped to the D-Pad (which is also movement) so you can only dodge at certain times in an enemy's attack, which doesn't quite work as well as it should. Combat itself is also very boring, as you don't do anything like combos, you simply shoot. If an enemy gets weak enough and is knocked down you can execute a finisher move, as well as occasionally performing counter attacks and jumping on enemies for a more powerful attack, but those are still just your standard D-Pad and shoot button commands. Most battles can be beaten by pressing (or holding and releasing) the shoot button and mashing the D-Pad around. Level designs also seem significantly weaker than past titles and enemies aren't terribly varied (even if they look different, most are just reskins/slightly beefier versions of enemies you fought hours ago). Boss battles can be fun though and the standard formula of getting a new weapon and using it to unlock new areas still works well. Graphics wise the game looks pretty good as you expect from any big Nintendo game. Still, with that being said, it doesn't look as good as Super Mario Galaxy (or SMG2). It doesn't even look as good as Metroid Prime 3 (which came out two years ago). Character models are excellent, framerate is steady, but environments are underwhelming. It's one of the better looking Wii games but there's plenty there that look better. Audio wise we got a mixed bag. The traditional Metroid tunes still sound fine, as do sound effects and the like. But the big let down is voice acting. For a game that was taking a big risk with major voice acting and cinematics, the voice acting is pretty damn average. It's not the worst I've heard and the voices themselves are nice, but the lines being delivered are so lifeless and lacking emotion that it really hurts the game's presentation even more. I mean, a thoroughly mediocre script doesn't help, but if I was trying to make the whole "cinematic and story driven" thing work, I'd be pulling out the big guns for voice acting. Samus in particular has a pretty poor voice work, and you'll be hearing her narrate and talk 90% of the time. Overall, Other M isn't the Metroid game we've been waiting for. While it takes a big leap for the new styles that, with effort, could work well, it simply doesn't pull them off as good as they should. The game as a whole hardly feels like a main Metroid game but more a spin off, which isn't necessarily a good thing. Odds are you'll want to ride it out to the end and what not, but as a whole the game is lacking and feels terribly unpolished and unrefined. <b>Presentation</b>: Story is mediocre and feels like a lamer version of Metal Gear Solid 2's story to an extent, except not anywhere near as good (and yes, I did like MGS2's zany plot twists and what not). Cutscenes are often random and poorly spread out, characters are weakly developed, and it seems to rely on a nonexistent fleshed out universe. There is a neat feature to watch the game as "movie" upon completion, but really, who would want to? The map also lacks the detail it does in Metroid Prime, such as 3-D models of areas and even basics like markers for certain areas that need certain upgrades. <b>5/10</b> <b>Graphics</b>: The game looks pretty good and has some very strong character models. Environments aren't as good but still decent. Not as good looking as Super Mario Galaxy, not as good looking as Metroid Prime 3, but still good looking. <b>8/10</b> <b>Audio</b>: Traditional Metroid tunes sound good here along with sound effects. Voice acting is pretty bland though. The voices themselves are good but lines are delivered stale and without inflection or emotion. <b>7/10</b> <b>Gameplay</b>: It still has Metroid's formula of backtracking, which is a godsend. But poor control choices hurt and the combat, despite looking flashy, feels very limited and stale. It looks good on screen but feels worse in your hands. Level designs also seem weaker than past Metroid games and enemies lack variety. Boss battles are decent though. <b>7/10</b> <b>Lasting Appeal</b>: The game can be done in a matter of hours or take a lot longer if you want to get upgrades and find the rest of the items. It's still general Metroid length which isn't bad, but the already hindering choices of gameplay and presentation won't make it nearly as fun to play through a few times. <b>7/10</b> Overall: <b>7/10</b> I was tempted to go lower but it's still worth playing. Wouldn't cough up my cash for it though. I sure hope Nintendo does better on Donkey Kong Country Returns and Kirby's Epic Yarn. If you're planning on commenting with "GUILD YOU'RE SO WRONG THIS GAME IS AMAZING", just take a second and consider a few things. Is the game REALLY that good or is all that hype you made up for it just blinding your vision and making you think it's what you wanted it to be?