Metroid Can’t Decide: 3D or Side-Scrolling?
Metroid: Other M isn’t quite a throwback to the classic 2D side-scrollers of NES, SNES years past, but it isn’t quite 3D, either.
Unfortunately, melding the two feels like Other M got bad bits from both styles.
What seemed to be the first level of Other M was playable at Comic Con 2010. The game‘s newly amped story portrayal is a welcome change (as is some good voice acting), but its indecision on whether to be a first-person shooter like the Prime trilogy or a side-scroller like the DS versions makes for a game that’s going to take some getting used to.
Other M plays camera tricks a lot. Sometimes Samus is running down a hall that opens ahead over her, or is open ahead and angled slightly. Other times, you’re looking head-on into a room that’s missing the fourth wall, in which you can walk left and right as well as forward and back. This means in the traditionally dark settings of Metroid games, you’re looking for places to jump up, climb, open, scale, or otherwise invade – but the somewhat flat-looking environment doesn’t always seem to invite classic Metroid platforming.
It was a bit like playing a Metroid game built on top of Super Smash Bros.
In order to make the 2D/3D non-first-person combat work, just looking and firing in the direction of an enemy meant Samus does all the dead-eye work for you. As long as you have a reasonable angle on a bad guy, Samus will nail it. That makes you something of an automated trigger-puller, rather than a tactician.
Still, the game as a whole might pull it off. The boss fight at the end of the level left Samus dashing around a circular room, but in a side-scroller fashion: one direction for the entire circle. It was more about dodging the enemy than steering around the room, which gave the battle focus. Switching to first-person was necessary to do real damage, and the third-person perspective gives Samus freedom to do Ninja Gaiden-esque stuff.
So it could be cool if the combat grows more complex and challenging. With all the power-ups in Metroid games, that’s definitely possible.