3DS Nintendo review

Metroid Prime: Federation Force Review

Join the Galactic Federation team as a marine on the brink of a high intensity invasion by the Space Pirates in Metroid Prime: Federation Force. But fail to keep your wits about you and you’ll soon find solo mode is tricky and mundane without friends in the fray.

Developed by the studio behind such great GameCube and 3DS titles as Super Mario Strikers and Luigi’s Mansion 2, Next Level Games has taken on the Metroid mantle in a bid to calm the brewing storm of negativity. As a co-operative first person shooter, Metroid Prime: Federation Force is a direct spin-off following the events of Metroid Prime 3, where Samus joined the Galactic Federation to fight off the Space Pirates. Though she doesn’t directly feature as a playable character, Samus is still used favourably within the main storyline which will appease some fans’ outpourings. Instead, players will fight as a young marine in Federation Force, taking on up to 22 in-game missions stationed at three different planets; the ice-laden Excelcion, the unforgiving desert of Bion and the gaseous planet Talvania.

As it stands, Federation Force features three distinct modes within Campaign play: Solo, Local Co-op and Online. Before unlocking one or a group of missions, each main assignment must be completed once by earning a medal for the main objective, with up to two more available for bonus goals. And while you can select all unlocked missions in solo, local or online co-operative, you cannot join online campaigns you have yet to unlock on the board, nor can you host them either, giving players a much more balanced game in terms of storyline.

Before setting out on any of the missions, however, each marine must go through some training. The in-game tutorial sets up the game superbly for newcomers, who can get to grips with the gyro aiming controls. On a new Nintendo 3DS, players can use both the large circle pad for left and right movement and the smaller nub for vertical camera movement. Unfortunately players cannot customise the control schemes and are locked into choosing one of two formats; namely one with gyro aiming and one without. And as the game focuses on mech customisation with different paint jobs and collectable mods, it would be neat to have that optional freedom.

With that said, however, Federation Force is not without its control frustrations. There are particular moments within missions where gyro aiming is completely and utterly necessary. Couple that with perpetual RSI from your trigger finger, small hands such as my own and larger hands may find hand cramping becomes the biggest issue and sadly limits the length of play sessions.

The main meat and bones of the title comes with the 22 main in-game missions. Evenly spread between each planet, the assignments are well varied and interesting on your first outing. There’s a strange overwhelming stillness that chills to the bone when playing in solo mode. The tension on your first couple of missions going it alone can be unnerving and terribly exciting, but the waves of nausea as you have to sift through a slew of space pirates repeatedly in the later missions gives way to the mundane rather quickly. Slowly it becomes a game of cat and mouse. Just one lonely, lovable mouse on the brink of death as cat after cat comes to taunt, maul and grapple their way to that drill your defending, or the architect device your holding, or that uplink your boss says is horribly important.

In fact, Uplink was probably the moment I gave up on solo mode after making it through 14 other missions alone. That’s not to say the subsequent assignments are impossible in solo mode, far from it, but masochism isn’t an art I enjoy. And when failing a mission actually damages those great mods you’ve worked hard to collect, many of which are distributed throughout the map in secret cubbies or behind lava and rocks as the only explorative part of the game, it becomes personal and can unhinge any marine out on the field.

As players work their way through the main story campaign, your marine will be able to unlock heavier carry weights and additional slots for chosen mods. Up to three modular slots can be used at any one time, and it’s paramount that you use these wisely depending on the mission presented. Players can pick up armoured plating to reduce damage, boost your rate of healing, improve your charge shots and bomb proximity rates, alongside doubling the damage output of your freeze, burn and shock shots. A necessity in solo mode, your carry weight affects the amount of auxiliary ammo your marine can carry. Between missiles and super missiles, decoys, scan bolts, freeze shots and repair capsules, there’s a decent variety on offer and each are fun to use.

Should you wish to team up with three other marines in Federation Force, online mode will be your calling. Despite some minor hiccups with connection instability after the North American and Japanese servers opened, the online component works remarkably well and is arguably the most pleasing way to experience the full game. By working together during missions, you’ll actively need to help each other out by reviving fallen teammates or by using items to slow down and defeat huge enemies such as Goliath Beetles, Ice Titans, Bruisers and Elite Pirates. It’s a real shame the online chat is limited to mere phrases though, as it can become problematic in certain missions where your team has been separated and needs help to regroup.

Frustration is likely to ensue in one particular mission where your group is disbanded and without their mechs. Due to some absurd server lags, a teammate dropped out and my avatar was struck down without my mech suit. The others couldn’t reach my player to revive as I was within an area only reachable without a mech. Hilariously, after five minutes of frantic “helps”, the game transported me to the beginning of the area where I was able to be revived. A free typing in-game chat mode or voice chat is desperately needed should these situations continue to arise.

A minor flaw at best, online mode has no equal distribution of items before a mission begins, leaving the slow to adapt players with very little to take on entry. However, Federation Force does give players an equal fair share of all collected mods, with the highest scoring player selecting first. You can even skip your turn and let another player choose the mod too; both polite and a neat addition.

While Federation Force can be completed in around 10 hours, players will most likely repeat missions to acquire the bonus objectives. After you’ve defeated the main storyline in an epic boss showdown, players will automatically unlock hard mode where they can experience different objectives in each of the main missions. Let’s just say it’s brutal and challenging.

Not to be forgotten, Blast Ball is also available in Federation Force. As a knock-off mini-game to Rocket League, it’s merely a tutorial tool for new players. A redundant feature that isn’t half as good as the aforementioned title above, it’s better to blink and miss it.

Though not without its redundancies, flaws and general frustrations, Metroid Prime: Federation Force is a well varied first-person shooter with an enjoyable online mode. Perhaps it will never be the Metroid title fans really wanted, but it doesn’t intend to be either with its set up. Repetitive enemies, lack of exploration and solo mode aside, at its core there’s a fun to play title. But as always, we shoot first and ask questions later.

6.5/10

Based on the PAL version.

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55 comments

      1. Thats what I gave it as well, a 5/10. I agree with your review, the single player was too dificult with no check points to help curb the fustration. Between that, the lack of exploration and the bobble head designs, I really dont ever see myself playing through this game again. I can’t say in words how sick I am of the chibi artstyle. It’s no longer original and honestly just looks like lazy design to me. Want to save money and time on development? Just use the chibi artstyle. Enough already.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Remember when Star Fox Zero had forced motion controls and was heavily criticized for them?

    Did FF’s developers not think “maybe we should work on the analogue controls more so people aren’t forced to use motion controls just to play accurately but then end up looking like idiots flailing in their seats just to look behind them in-game?”

    Not surprised to see another review call it out as mediocre, that seems to be the popular opinion.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. If the plan was to always have Samus get captured & turned into an enemy as one of the final boss fights, even if the artstyle was realistic, I think people still would have flipped their lid. Remember. Other M failed because it tried to make Samus too human which made many see her as weak so Samus being captured is just going to cause the same reaction.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Exactly- we’re to believe that the same Samus capable of destroying not one, but two entire planets single-handedly (referring to Super and Fusion), carry out a mass genocide alone while several Federation platoons were wiped out within moments (Metroid II), AND clear six planets of a galactic poison and then destroy the source ridding of it forever (Prime series) would be captured by lowly Pirate grunts?

        I cannot and will not accept that.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. “But it makes Samus more human to know she’s not perfect & that even she can be captured!” Fuck no! We have enough damsels in distress! Samus should not be one! Ever! Make her more human some other way!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Nine times out of ten, I hate spoilers.
        But in this instance, I’m glad to know the ending.
        I will never purchase this software, ever.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. i get Paid Over £80 per hour working from home with 2 kids at house. I never thought I would be able to do it but my best friend earns over £9185 a month doing this and she convinced me to try. The potential with this is endless.

    Like

  3. I knew the game stinks when I saw its first trailer with that stupid anti-Metroid chibi look. The developers made it absolutely clear that they didn’t care about Metroid.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. They only cared about making a buck by leeching off of a popular name whether it pissed all over that name or not. Just like Ghostbusters 2016. Just like Fantastic Four 2015. And just like the Doom movie a few years back. Super Mario Bros: The Movie most likely fits into that category, too.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Nintendo has earned a Ph.D in ruining it’s franchises. Mario Party, Animal Crossing, Chibi Robo, Yoshi, Super Mario 2D and 3D, Star Fox, and now Metroid.

        And Reggie, the buffoon, insists in the idea that Nintendo is the only one to have great games. It’s the other way around, though. Someone needs to tell him the cold truth.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Reggie used to be cool, but now, he really has to go.

        A lot of people at NoA do, actually, but he’s high on the priority list, just above everyone who supports ridiculous censorship in the name of “localization.”

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I actually like Reggie. He does his best with what he has to work with. Nintendo of Japan makes all the development decisions, NOA just does what they are told. Except they do a piss poor job at localizing games, i’ll give you that. But with a region free NX on the horizon that will no longer be an issue.

        Like

  4. “Next Level Games has taken on the Metroid mantle in a bid to calm the brewing storm of negativity.” *slow clap* Congratulations! You did the EXACT opposite! Instead of calming it, you made the storm go from a tidal wave to a hurricane.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I won’t put the full blame on Next Level for this- the brunt of it goes to Tanabe for the horrid decisions that doomed FF from the start. We know them all well enough by this point so I won’t go into them yet again.

      Time to get back to binge-playing the 2D Metroids to get my mind off this mess. Ugh!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. On the 1st, I’m gonna go ahead & get Axiom Verge on my PS4. If things work out, maybe it can be my replacement for Metroid if Nintendo ruins it further after FedshitForce.

        Liked by 1 person

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