|Image via GiantBomb.com|
Like most Metroid games, you can hold down the firing button for a more powerful charged attack. Doing so takes time and leaves you without any offensive capabilities. However, you also have access to a dodge maneuver that both allows you to avoid attacks at the last second. Successfully dodging while holding down the firing button grants you a fully-charged blaster without having to wait for the meter to fill up. Performing this move is a calculated risk: there's always the chance you'll dodge too late or miss an attack from a secondary enemy, but being able to fire consecutive charged blasts with almost no lag time is extremely effective against even the strongest enemies.
Metroid: Other M gives you a reason to make combat more exciting and dynamic. You could keep your distance and pepper most enemies to death with weak shots, but that soon becomes slow and dull. Things get even more hectic when you start incorporating melee and finishing attacks, both of which require a fully charged meter and close proximity to enemies. Racing towards a stunned enemy or jumping on top of one is pretty much the most dangerous thing you can do in terms of inviting injury, but it's also the way to quickly deal out large amounts of damage. This leads to situations where you might actually get more aggressive when you are low in health because you want to end the battle before you making a mistake or getting tagged by an errant shot from a far-away enemy.
Other M's first-person mode offers a similar mixture of benefits and drawbacks. The game is usually played with the Wii Remote in the horizontal, NES-style position, but pointing the remote at the screen activates a first-person perspective that gives you access to missiles and lock-on targeting. Both of these things are highly useful against enemies, but they come at a price: your field of vision is much more limited, you have to manually find targets rather than rely on the third-person aim assist, and you can't dodge. Like the dodge/charge dynamic, going into first person offers benefits that must be balanced against ever-present risks.
On a side note, first-person mode is interesting from a physical perspective, as it puts you int he unique position of having to quickly change the way you hold the controller. While awkward at times, it's a novel way to simulate the feeling of having to quickly draw and aim a weapon under pressure. The game slows the action for a brief moment when you switch, but you still need to get your bearings quickly and go in with a specific plan.
Unfortunately, all these risk/reward systems require a herculean suspension of disbelief in order to reconcile them with the game's story and fiction. How does dodging a projectile possibly recharge an energy weapon? Samus flawlessly target enemies in third-person mode, but routinely misses in first person mode. Thanks to my input, she alternates from being the best shot in the galaxy to being unable to hit the broad side of a barn. Missiles are in endless supply and cause no splash damage, so why does she only use them in first-person mode?
There are plenty of interesting systems at work in Metroid: Other M, it's just a shame that you have to ignore the story, disregard its characters, and forgo any hope of technological plausibility to find them. Ultimately, the game's biggest risk is its focus on its plot and character development and it's a risk that doesn't pay off.