Sat 19 Jun 2010
Is it time to turn Samus Aran from a video game character into an actual person? With voice acting, a more in-depth story than we're used to, and more of an emphasis on the character (both in and out of the armor), Samus now seems more like a woman than simply a bounty hunter. Incredibly capable, oddly vulnerable.
It's an odd turn for the character, and one that may put longtime fans off, but if you're going to continue to return to this game world, you're going to have to take a look at the face behind the helmet at some point. We learn of Samus' past, she describes what she's feeling, and she has more interaction with other characters in the game. Still, the focus seems to be where it belongs: on blowing the hell out of things.
The game is part 2.5D side-scroller and part first-person shooter. You explore the world by running from left to right, and sometimes into and out of the screen in third person. You can switch to a first-person view by pointing the Wiimote at the television. From there, you can look around, fire directly at enemies, or use your missiles. Back in third-person mode, you can roll into the ever-famous ball and use bombs to blast yourself into the air. There is also a charged version of the bomb that blasts everything in the room—it's an impressive sight.
The two modes of gameplay work together wonderfully, and the gameplay itself is very satisfying. There is a sort of auto-lock-on that happens when you face an enemy, although precision aiming is possible in first-person mode. The art direction is strong, but this is still a Wii game... expect some whiplash if you're coming from your PS3 or Xbox 360.
This is a detour for the series, but it certainly moves both the story and gameplay of the franchise forward. After playing for close to half an hour, much of that being story and exposition, I think I enjoy spending time with an actual person instead of a warrior ever-encased in steel.