‘Metroid: Other M' brings action to the Wii

Metroid: Other M

Score: 86/100

Intergalactic bounty hunter Samus returns for another excellent adventure, but changes to the hero’s personality and game mechanics may disappoint longtime fans of the Metroid franchise.

“Other M” looks great, Nintendo’s developers have surely squeezed some visual magic out of the Wii.

The controls, as often happens in fast-paced Wii games, can be problematic. “Other M” is, at times, reminiscent of a classic side-scroller, but when it’s time for Samus to blast her way through a horde of enemies, the player often must enter first-person-shooter mode to target enemies. The switch can be jarring, and it can be difficult to get the targeting reticule to center on the TV screen quickly. Some enemies require a melee finishing move and it can be frustrating to maneuver Samus with precision using the directional pad.

The least welcome change is to Samus herself. For decades she has been the strong, silent type. Now, she not only speaks for the first time, but she won’t shut up. Nintendo would have been wise to keep its hero mute like Half-Life’s Gordon Freeman.

Still, for action fans, it doesn’t get much better than this on the Wii.

The good:

** Great boss battles. The new ability to dodge attacks is engaging and fun.

** Nice variety of weapons and abilities.

** Well-written story.

** Samus’ ability to turn into a ball and explore hidden areas remains cool.

** At least 12 hours of gameplay.

The bad:

** Unskippable and long cutscenes bog down the action.

** Player can’t move in first-person mode. Searching for hidden items in first-person mode is mind-numbing.

** Subpar voice acting.

** Minor foes are annoying; combat can approach the hack-and-slash realm.

** The map too-clearly shows the player the next objective, reducing the need to explore.

-- Reviewed on Nintendo Wii. Rated: Teen.

New and notable:

** Disney Guilty Party (Wii, Rated: Everyone) -- Only Disney could craft family fun out of a murder mystery. Up to four detectives at a time can try to crack the case.

** Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Ultimate Edition (PS3, Xbox 360, Rated: Mature) -- A compilation featuring Bad Company 2, the Onslaught expansion pack, various add-ons and the online gem Battlefield 1943.

** Dead Rising 2: Case Zero (Xbox 360, Rated: Mature) -- A downloadable prequel leading up to the zombie slaying mayhem of Dead Rising 2, to be released late September.

Industry news:

** Nintendo is dropping the price of its popular handheld DSi and DSi XL units by $20 Sept. 12, to $149 and $169 respectively. The DS Lite will remain at $129.