The Samus we meet in Metroid: Other M is bold, determined and she kicks ass. Yet, more importantly, she's found her voice. Admittedly Samus' voice acting sounds a little wooden and monotone at times during the impressive CGI cut-scenes, but it doesn't detract from her personality. In fact, it seems to suit her, giving the impression that revisiting her past isn't exactly something she does with much pleasure.
Yet giving Samus a voice isn't the only bold move Team Ninja has made. Take the controls - they may initially come as a shock to some players because while the action takes place in a 3D setting, you use a traditional 2D control system which has you holding the Remote on its side and moving Samus with the D-pad. However, within half an hour it becomes second nature as you realise that the game's environments have been designed to accomodate these controls. You soon learn to love the control system for its sheer simplicity, and the way you can flip between third and first person views by pointing at the screen.
The same goes for the combat, which is also surprisingly straightforward. The key lies in the ability to tap the D-pad just as an enemy attacks in order to evade them without taking a hit. Not only does this look really cool, it also instantly charges your arm cannon to maximum, allowing you to fire off a powerful shot.
What's more, your standard uncharged shot has been made horrendously weak in order to encourage you to approach enemies and let them have a go at you. Seeing Samus nonchalantly dodge a huge swipe from a Space Pirate, follow it up with a powerful blast with her arm cannon to stun it, jump on its head and finish it off with a blast direct to the bonce is jaw-dropping.
What's The Charge?
This doesn't make the game too easy, but it's not as difficult as some of Samus' past adventures. Part of this is down to Samus' ability to top-up her missiles whenever she wants. Simply stand still, point your Wii Remote upwards and hold the A button and your ammo will refill. It does make things needlessly easier, but some enemies and walls can only be effectively destroyed by using missiles, so it does prevent you from backtracking at awkward moments to find missiles elsewhere.
Perhaps more controversially, Samus can also restore her health in this manner, but only when she's a hit or so away from death. Though you may think this is taking it a little too far, it's actually very risky to try this because it takes a long time and leaves Samus open to an inevitably fatal attack.
The structure of the game is still very much classic Metroid. You 'learn' new power-ups as you progress and there's still some backtracking once you get these new abilities.
The only truly horrible moments are the odd occasions during some cut-scenes where you're looking through Samus' visor and have to focus on a specific object to continue. We spent 20 frustrating minutes trying to figure out what we were supposed to look at during one scene, only to realise there was a tiny green patch of liquid on the grass. These bits are atrocious but don't happen regularly enough to become too annoying.
A New Dawn
Other M is its own game, but the action and exploration feels a lot like a 3D version of Super Metroid would, whereas using the first-person perspective has an obvious Metroid Prime feel to it. But is it better than Metroid Prime? No. Is it better than Super Metroid? No. Metroid: Other M's main problem is that its predecessors set the bar so high that it was always going to be difficult for Team Ninja to surpass that. Metroid: Other M is a fantastic game in its own right though, and one that will take you many hours to completely finish. As a result we have no problem whatsoever recommending it to fans of Samus' previous exploits.
This is an edited version of a review that will appear in the October issue of Official Nintendo Magazine which goes on sale on Monday 6 September. For more in-depth analysis, screenshots and boxouts, buy the magazine.