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[Review] Metroid Prime: Federation Force

Posted on August 19, 2016 by in 3DS, Reviews

System: 3DS
Release date: August 19, 2016
Developer: Next Level Games
Publisher Nintendo

If you’re like a me who hasn’t kept up a ton with Metroid, you probably don’t know a whole lot about Metroid Prime: Federation Force. Since its unveiling, the 3DS title has remained shrouded in mystery for quite some time. Only one factor has remained a constant during its existence, which is that the game is unlike any other Metroid to date. Ditching the series’ iconic feeling of isolation and turning more towards four-player multiplayer, it attempts to reach for the stars and try something new. Therein lies the recurring problem with Federation Force, however. While the new ideas are fun, they offer equally as many bonuses as they do flaws.

To begin, I feel the most important element to bring up is that those expecting the core gameplay with multiplayer aspects tossed in will be disappointed. Other than the first-person shooting style battles with enemies and familiar faces, the most Metroid thing about this game is its title. Now, that’s not to say it should be completely written off by hardcore Metroid fans. The lore remains largely the same and the world can feel familiar if you choose to go about it as a single-player experience, and the multiplayer is definitely worth at least checking out. In other words, coming from someone who’s only completed two titles in the series (Metroid 2 and Prime), it didn’t feel too off from its namesake to work.

While I feel it’s important to discuss how it feels as a Metroid title, I also feel it’s equally as important to talk about how Federation Force holds as a standalone product, and here’s where things get a little shaky. A four-player online shooter for the 3DS already sounds like a strange enough concept, and it’s as weird a final product as the idea sounds on paper. That’s not to say the whole idea is a total mess, but there are definitely some standout problems.


If you’ve played a Metroid game before (or any first-person shooter for that matter) you largely know how this works. You shoot enemies while traversing through planets and various sequences that can either be a long trek through a frozen cavernous land or just a quick fest of fighting wave after wave of enemies on a speeding ship. The variety is appreciated, but I can only go through a wave of enemies so much before I keep saying to myself, “again?”.

As for the actual shooting, while tough to grasp at first, it is an easily adaptable play style. You have an option of using gyro controls or turning them off, but I did find myself sticking to using those motion controls as they’re faster and easier (it also feels cooler using gyro, but I don’t like admitting that…). You have an array of different bullets and powers at your disposal, and that’s all fine and dandy, though one of the biggest gripes I have is with the most basic function, shooting. You have two main kinds of bullets – a quick shot or a charged shot. The quick shots are silly weak and don’t offer as much help, but I tend to use them more because the charge shots take quite awhile to prepare, making both feel not that useful and forcing me to find an awkward in between that doesn’t even really exist. It’s one or the other. Aside from that, I can’t deny that it does feel fantastic taking down a large beast as you maneuver your mech hop, slide, and glide it’s way to their weak spots.

You have the option to play alone, but a lot of the fun comes from getting to play with people online. As of yet I haven’t spent a majority of my time playing multiplayer, but I can confirm the time I was able to do so was more enjoyable than when playing solo. There are ways to upgrade and customize your mech so they fit in better when playing alone, so keep that in mind. Watching a player’s different use of their customizable mechs was interesting and it was fun using just four little phrases to express the wide variety of emotions you feel while taking on a boss. Thus far, I’ve yet to encounter major problems with online, and there are a ton of options to guarantee you’re playing with the group you want to, whether its locally or online with friends, or the same with absolute strangers.


The visuals in Metroid Prime: Federation Force also sit in an odd middle ground with me. The game doesn’t look awful, but it definitely doesn’t look that great either. When viewing from up close, all corners appear sharp and not too crisp, and most visual flair isn’t as satisfying as you’d typically expect with that Nintendo polish. There are, however, some moments when you get a chance to look back at the scope of everything and it all finally seems to come together for once. There’s this one particular moment when you walk out of the training area right at the beginning and are able to see the rest of the ship loom above you as the planets and stars shine bright and that certain moment resonated with me so much. It’s not too often these moments occur, but when they do it really is something special.

Finally, the overall sound design is really nice in this title. The ominous noises of beasts that loom around you all the way to pump up music as you’re taking on hordes of enemies all sound and feel effective. No tunes really stuck in my head, but I don’t think that’s what’s supposed to happen with a game like this. The music and sounds are supposed to invoke a certain feeling as you play and they definitely do. I should also mention that I can listen to the sounds you hear when you smack a ball in Blast Ball (which is tons of fun by the way) all day.


The Verdict

The recommendation?

While I didn’t love Metroid Prime: Federation Force, I definitely did enjoy the game as I found myself sinking into it more. The gameplay felt a bit boring during long sessions and I was unable to play with anyone I knew personally, but finding people online randomly and essentially using sign language to express myself to each player was fun.

For die-hard Metroid fans, Federation Force can be hard to recommend. There aren’t too many similarities to the main series, but there’s just enough here to make it worthwhile for those looking for a unique multiplayer experience to fill their fall season. Mixed overall gameplay, decent visuals, and nice sound design don’t make the title groundbreaking by any means. It’s just unique enough where I can forgive the little things and invest myself in the experience for a short period.

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