September 2010


Wii September 11th, 2010 by HMTKSteve

Metroid: Other M

Format: Wii™
Launch Date: 08/31/10
ESRB: T (Teen): Animated Blood, Violence
Game Type: Action Adventure
Players: 1
Developer: Nintendo and Team Ninja

For decades, Samus Aran has been known as one of the first female protagonists in video games, and one of the most enigmatic. Having traded her haunted past for the solitary life of a bounty hunter, Samus™ finally tells her own tale in this revealing, personal story of her failings, her flaws and ultimately her motivation. Metroid: Other M is an unprecedented collaboration that blends the slick, action-packed production of the world-renowned Team Ninja development team with the game design talents of the creators of the original Metroid. Metroid: Other M is a dramatic new direction for a legendary franchise and a bold new blend between cinematics, storytelling and the best in interactive entertainment.

At least that is how Nintendo is billing this new game in the Metroid franchise. What do I think? Well, my feelings are not even close to what you will find on other game review sites. I spent my hard-earned coin on this game and I expect a certain amount of enjoyment from a game that I pay real money for. This is even more true when the game comes from such a classic Nintendo franchise.

What's the same?

I have some good news in this department, between the soundtrack and the creatures you fight this is a Metroid game. While the music is new it does incorporate classic Metroid musical patterns within it. When enemies are nearby the music does change to reflect this. Unfortunately the game will sometimes play music that indicates nearby enemies when no enemies are nearby. For gamers who pay attention to video and audio cues this can be a bit of a problem.

Most of the basic enemies are classic Metroid fare. You have Zoomers, Skree, Reo, and many others. While the Space Pirates are dead the original stock that they evolved from does exist on the Bottle Ship so don't be surprised when something that looks like a Space Pirate shows up.

Unlike previous games there are no rewards for killing enemies. Instead enemies are nothing more than speed bumps on your way to the next healing/recharge/save point. There is also a "concentration" option where you stand still and hold a button down to refill missiles and, if hurt bad enough, recharge some of your health. It's all about thinking those happy thoughts! This change makes boss battles very hard if you have the misfortune of stumbling upon one while in a low health status.

All of the classic weapons exist in the game and unlike previous versions there is no big event that strips Samus of all of her gear. Well, unless you count the storyline reason as to why Samus can not use her gear right away.

Daddy can I use my gun yet?

Metroid Other M

In previous Metroid games there was always a reason as to why you were searching all over the place for power-ups and weapons. While it gave you something to strive for it also didn't exactly feel right that Samus could go to an alien planet and find the exact part to upgrade her suit. This time around Samus does not lose her stuff, she just has to ask permission from dad Adam, the commander of the Galactic Federation Strike Team that Samus encounters on the Bottle Ship.

What we find out is that Samus used to work for this guy when she was a whiny, wimpy, tweenager with daddy issues Galactic Federation Soldier. Who knew, eh? So, in exchange for letting Samus help the Strike Team, Adam allows her to search the ship. The only caveat is that she has to follow orders and she can't use her gear unless Adam OKs it an all. 'Cause, you know, setting off Supper Missiles and Power Bombs might have a negative impact on the hull integrity of a space station.

While this does make more sense than her finding gear all over the ship it is mildly annoying when you are trying to do something and the gear has not yet been unlocked. In earlier games it was not that uncommon for high level players to figure out ways to access weapon upgrades early, not so in this game. While I can understand the weapon lock-downs what I can not understand is why her suit upgrades require permission. When I'm taking damage from heat why do I need Adam's permission to activate the heat-dampening effects of my Varia Suit?

There is also the issue of Adam unlocking doors for you (and his troops). Which is kind of weird because you will encounter a locked door and shortly after you pass through it you find troopers on the other side. How did they get through the door? Did Adam lock it behind them just to force you into fighting some weird beast?

Controls

General gameplay consists of using the D-pad to move and a fire and jump button. The game has an auto-aim feature so you pretty much just run around the screen mashing the fire button. There are also some special moved Samus can do, the most common being sensemove.

By holding down the fire button and using the D-pad to dodge an attack your gun instantly reaches a max charge and you can fire on the enemy. Rinse and repeat. Yes, this is how most battle goes. Do a whole lot of sensemoves until you figure out the guys rhythm. Once you do add in the charged blasts between sensemoves. This strategy works on every boss in the game with only a few minor exceptions where launching a missile speeds up the battle.

Metroid Other M

There is also a Killing Blow maneuver that requires running towards a downed enemy and hitting the fire button to kill them.

Personally, I feel that Metroid Prime: Corruption has the best controls for a Metroid game (if not FPS in general). Why they went with the 'simplified' control scheme from the NES days is beyond me.

The game switches between third person platforming and first person standing still all throughout the game. While in platforming you often suffer from a terrible camera angle problem that is reminiscent of the horrible Star Wars Clone Wars game. Yes, jumping is near impossible in some areas of the game.

Another problem is that some rooms behave not as a typical room but as if you were running on a circular track while at other times circular rooms behave as normal. Some corridors look great when you run down them but when you turn around and run back the viewpoint does not change so rather than running towards things you can see in the distance everything in the distance moves further away and you run straight into darkness, often getting hurt by an unseen enemy.

In order to scan or shoot missiles you must be in first-person mode, also known as 'shoot me cause I can't move' mode. The only good thing is that most enemies can be defeated without using missiles so you don't *have* to bounce between modes in most fights. There is also a short second or two of slow-time during the transition. Be warned though, when you enter first-person mode you will be looking in the same direction as Samus is facing.

Metroid Other M

Why am I staring at a wall?

One thing that was added to the game (or broken, depending on your point of view) is scanning. There are several "puzzles" where you are dropped into first-person view and have to play "find the pixel" on the screen. Once you find the mysterious pixel you scan it and the story continues.

Some of these scan events are trivial, "look, a huge corpse!" While others are extremely tedious, "find the black door in the black room with the light outs."

Traditional scanning form the Prime games, where you collected lore cool things like lore, are gone. You can scan bosses but all that does is give you their HP gauge. You can not scan the environment for story elements. Which may be a good thing because the included CGI rendered story is loooooooong.

Who put this story in my shooty game?

The storyline of Metroid Other M is long and tedious if not more than a little sexist. Why take one of the coolest and toughest female characters in all of video game land and turn her into a whiny bitch with daddy issues? I can't help but wonder if Samus would be the right person for the job if Metroids were controlled by Father Brain rather than Mother Brain.

We are talking about a chick so tough she can kill Space Pirates with a pistol in just her Zero Suit! Now that mystique is gone. What's the deal Nintendo? You had no problem beefing up Princess Zelda over the years with her Sheik alter ego so what happened? What?

    The Good

  • Feels like Metroid
    The Bad

  • Samus is a whiny bitch
  • Can be beaten in under ten hours
  • Scanning for pixels
  • No strategy beyond button mashing
  • Killing enemies provides no reward
    The Ugly

  • Graphics not as good as previous game (Corruption)
  • Controls are very limited
  • Story
  • Lack of visual feedback during mini-boss battles

video games September 3rd, 2010 by HMTKSteve
Dead Rising 2L Case Zero

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is an Xbox 360 exclusive demo/prologue for the soon to be released Dead Rising 2. The game includes 12 achievements (worth 200 points), progression to level five, carrying forward of loot found, and sells for 400 MS points. There is also a free version that does not allow for the carrying forward of items acquired.

Case Zero is set three years before the events of Dead Rising 2. You play as Chuck Greene, a man who is travelling to Fortune City with his daughter Katey when tragedy strikes. While gassing up his truck at the Silver Creek gas station it gets stolen along with Katey's supply of Zombrex (a drug that prevents the onset of zombification and must be administered every 12 hours.) It is up to you to find Zombrex for Katey and a way out of Silver City.

Much like its predecessor Dead Rising and the forthcoming Dead Rising 2 you only have a short amount of time to complete the game before time runs out. In the previous game you had three days, here you only have a matter of hours. If Katey does not get her next dose of Zombrex between 7:00 PM and 8:00 PM she dies. If that were not enough the military will quarantine the town at 9:00 PM, also resulting in a loss as they take the infected child into custody.

What do you have to do in this 12 hours period? At the bare minimum you have to find a source of Zombrex and a way out of town. As it just so happens once you find the Zombrex for Katey you also find a busted motorcycle. Being the motocross madman that you are it's a simple matter for Chuck to rebuild the bike. The hard part? Finding the parts.

The bike parts are scattered all over town. Some can be picked up in the street while others require interacting with survivors. What would Dead Rising be without survivors? Especially survivors who can't fight their way out a paper bag or always walk right where you are swinging your spiked bat?

Survivors

There are 12 survivors in Silver Creek, not all of them will leave (or want to be saved) but all of them will be encountered during the game.

Not counting Katey the first survivor you will meet is Dick, he runs the pawnshop. After you rescue him you will be able to purchase some of the combo weapons as well as some information on where to find the bike parts that are scattered around town.

The rest of the survivors do not appear right away but instead appear to either be triggered by time of day or some other action. Regardless you will want to find and rescue them as they are worth points and, well, it's the nice thing to do!

Bike Parts

Even the master motor cross man Chuck needs more than a single tire and a frame to ride out of Silver Creek. There are five pieces to the bike that must be located before you can build it and leave town. Only two of these parts are found on the street. The rest require money or items to acquire.

Once all of the items are found Chuck will build the bike. Don't count on leaving town just yet, Chuck will not leave until after Katey gets her Zombrex. Did I mention taking Zombrex too soon after the previous dose is lethal? Don't expect to leave town until after 7:00 PM.

Weapons

If you played the original Dead rising than you remember that everything is a weapon in Dead Rising, Case Zero takes that notion and goes a step beyond. Not only is everything a weapon but some items can be combined into combo-weapons.

Some of these combo-weapons can be acquired right away (Spiked Bat - baseball bat + box of nails) while others require some serious searching before their parts become available. Each combo-weapon also has a corresponding combo card (or scratch card). The combo cards allow for strong attacks (hold the X button) while the scratch cards do not. Most of the weapons in Case Zero only operate as scratch cards.

In my experience the Spiked Bat was the most useful of all of the combo-weapons. Even though the Boomstick is very deadly (when used against you) with only a scratch card the thing sucks. Even the Paddle Saw sucks compared to a single chainsaw in your hands.

    Combo-Weapons

  1. Air Horn - Traffic Cone + Spray Paint
  2. Beer Hat - Beer + Hard Hat
  3. Boomstick - Shotgun + Pitchfork
  4. Drill Bucket - Drill + Bucket
  5. Electric Rake - Leaf Rake + Car Battery
  6. I.E.D - Propane tank + Box of Nails
  7. Molotov - Newspaper + Whiskey
  8. Paddle Saw - Chain saw + Paddle
  9. Spiked Bat - Baseball bat + Box of Nails

The Drill Bucket is one of the worst combo-weapons in the game. Not because it sucks as a weapon but because it can only be used against one zombie at a time. In a game with the massive amounts of zombies that this game has such a weapon is simply a waste.

Also, guns suck in this game. Except for the shotgun. That is an awesome gun!

Zombies

Yup, there be zombies in this game, loads of them. While the original only allowed for about 800 to be onscreen at one time this one (or at least DR2) allows for 7,000+ to be onscreen at one time! Let me tell you from personal experience that it is true.

Zombies are everywhere. As soon as you start mowing them down more show up. It is impossible to clear an outside location of zombies. Indoors (with the doors closed) yes, outside, no!

Conclusion

At 400 MS points (or free) this is an excellent opportunity for gamers to get a taste of the Dead Rising system. Players will need to go through the game a few times just to find where everything is let alone actually beat the game.

There are some issues with the AI on the survivors (I'm swinging a sword over here!) but nothing that is too terrible if you pay attention. There is also a minor issue with the sheer number of zombies present in this tiny town! There's more zombies than you can shake a chainsaw at!

From start to finish it takes about three hours to play through the entire story if you know where everything is, which you will not know unless you read online FAQs or otherwise spoil the story for yourself. I spent about eight plus hours playing this before I acquired all of the achievements. Take that for what it is worth.


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