Metroid Prime: Federation Force has had a shaky path to release. Revealed at E3 2015, fans of the Metroid series immediately reacted negatively toward the game. Many flocked to the game’s trailer on YouTube and disliked the video to voice their distaste for the title. Many went as far as signing a petition calling for the cancellation of the game. What about the game made so many Metroid fans angry? Could the game really be that bad?
The answer is, quite simply, no. Metroid Prime: Federation Force is actually one of the best first-person shooters on the Nintendo 3DS. The only problem that many have with it is that it is a Metroid game. However, the Metroid influence is what adds charm to the game and sets it apart from other generic space shooters. While you don’t play as Metroid protagonist and heroine Samus Aran, you still feel like you are playing a Metroid game. Next Level Games, who also worked on other 3DS titles like Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, did a good job of keeping a “Metroid” atmosphere throughout the game.
As the title of the game implies, Federation Force revolves around the Galactic Federation. You play as one of many Marines in the Federation Force who use giant Mechs to fight against the Space Pirate threat. The game is canon and takes place after Metroid Prime 3: Corruption once Samus has destroyed the Phazon that once threatened the galaxy. As stated before, Samus is not the protagonist of the game, but she does make a few isolated appearances. Instead, this time it is the Marines of the Federation Force that are concentrating their efforts on eradicating the Space Pirates.
The game is divided into missions that take place on three distinctive planets from the Metroid franchise. The missions start simple, with the Marines collecting resources and artifacts from the planets, but eventually the Galactic Federation learns that the Space Pirates are building some type of weapon that could be devastating to the galaxy. This divide in missions makes it easy to learn the controls early in the game before the real challenge of tackling the Space Pirates creeps up. I found the controls to be perfect. While there are a variety of options given to you, I used the default settings. You jump with B, shoot with A, but aiming is a bit different. The L button will allow you to lock onto enemies, but holding the R button will allow you to use the gyro sensor in your 3DS to aim and shoot. Since a lot of the enemies move quickly around the screen, this feature works well, letting you smoothly aim at your target.
One of the biggest problems with Federation Force is that it seems unbalanced for solo players. I purposely avoided playing online to test whether I would be able to complete the campaign by playing alone. While I was successful, the game heavily places an emphasis on playing with others. This causes some of the missions to be annoyingly difficult when playing alone. In one certain mission, you are tasked with recovering three artifacts from one of the planets, all while avoiding the Space Pirates. The problem with this is that the Space Pirates keep spawning even after you kill them. They particularly spawn in front of your ship where you need to place the artifacts. Not only that, but when a Space Pirate hits you, your character will automatically drop the artifact. And as if that wasn’t annoying enough, the artifacts will actually fly away if you do not pick them up again in a matter of seconds. This was the worst mission I encountered during my time with the game, and it made me wish I had other players with me. This isn’t an issue if you buy the game looking to play with others, but if one were to want to play alone, they would find that the game stacks the odds against them.
Another thing to note about Federation Force is its art style. While the game looks graphically polished and clean on the Nintendo 3DS, the art style is a bit hit-or-miss. Instead of the serious futuristic style of the main Prime games, Federation Force makes everything “chibi-like”. This means that the characters are small and tiny while their heads are disproportionate. Since the game is a spin-off title (and on the 3DS), the cartoony art style can be forgiven. However, it does take a bit getting used to Chibi Samus.
While all missions in Federation Force are different, there is a problem with how few of them there are. There are only 22 missions, and they go by fast. My total time with the campaign was a measly 10 hours, which is hard to justify for a normal priced 3DS game. However, after beating the game, you obtain the option to play them again in hard mode. This didn’t really interest me at all, so I decided to spend some time redoing normal missions. Every mission challenges you to finish in the recommended time limit and to complete a bonus task that will give points as a reward. Getting enough points will reward you with tokens, with three tokens available per mission. These tokens will unlock customization options for your Mech or will increase the amount of weapons/items that you can carry. So, although the story will finish quickly, there is a lot of content for the avid completionist. There is also a great online multiplayer game called Blast Ball that adds a bit more fun to the game. I would explain more about the game, but Nintendo released Blast Ball on the Nintendo eShop for you to try now. Definitely give it a try, and if you like what you see, consider transferring your game data to Metroid Prime: Federation Force.
Developer: Next Level Games
Release Date:19th August 2016