Metroid Prime: Federation Force is a bland and frustrating take on the Metroid franchise. Though it’s a technically functional game, Federation Force is an overall disappointment that doesn’t understand what makes Metroid so great.
Metroid Prime Federation Force
Developer: Next Level Games
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Metroid Prime Federation Force is a confusing project. Metroid is known for its deep exploration and stunning atmosphere and Federation Force is as a team-based shooter with a soccer side-mode, a peculiar direction to take the series , I went into Federation Force with an open mind, looking for a unique experience, despite being so different from the Metroid so many of us know and love. Unfortunately, Federation Force is a Metroid game in only the loosest sense, as it feels more like an experimental DSiWare title than a full-fledged game worthy of the Metroid name.
Federation Force is fast and loose with its plot. You assume the role of a new recruit in the Galactic Federation, the galaxy-spanning police force of the Metroid universe. Either alone or with up to three friends, you’re sent on various missions to different planets in order to subdue the resurgence of the nefarious Space Pirates. It has the potential to be an okay narrative, but fails to be interesting or relevant enough for Metroid fans. Samus herself makes little more than scattered cameos, which is especially unfortunate, as she could easily be more relevant to the story. Altogether, the narrative of Federation Force presents is a serviceable, if not dull side-story.
Federation Force‘s gameplay is functional, though regrettably simple. As in previous Metroid Prime games, you’re given a first-person view from inside your character’s helmet, with the helmet’s visor serving as the game’s HUD. Using the thumb-pad to move and R+the gyroscope to look around, you blast your way through enemies, basic puzzles, and large bosses. Gyroscope controls have never been my preference, so having to use them for turning and aiming was bothersome. Despite being cumbersome, the controls are accurate and locking onto enemies is easy.
The mission variation in Federation Force is acceptable, though most of the missions tend to fall into a straightforward “find the boss and kill it” routine. As you travel through the game’s different planets, you’ll do some very light exploration as you move towards the boss of each mission. Some missions have you venture outside of your mech suit in order to sneak around areas without weapons, though these sections are more of a pain than anything. While it’s great that Federation Force aims to mix up the mission types, it’s remarkably easy to die in stealth missions, meaning you’ll have to play them repeatedly in order to beat them.
Your character’s weapons and suit are surprisingly customizable through the use of different weapon types, and “MODs.” Weapon types are pretty basic, ranging from flaming shots and lightning bolts to proximity bombs and decoy dummies. MODs on other hand are stat improvements that can be equipped onto your suit. MODs are extremely helpful throughout the game, with the standout MOD being the “Lone Wolf,” a power-up that makes the game a bit easier for people going at it solo. Unfortunately, Federation Force is still frustratingly difficult when played alone. Bosses and stealth missions are especially problematic, as any death while playing alone means trying the entire mission over again.
There’s an extra mode called “Blast Ball” that has teams of three shoot at a large ball to try to get it into their opponent’s net. The physics feel a bit too weighty, and while the mode is fun once or twice, its lack of variation doesn’t warrant more than a few matches before moving on. This seems to be a common sentiment, as I tried to play Blast Ball online twice, and both times I sat in a lobby waiting for players for ten minutes until the host quit.
Federation Force seems to be confused when it comes to its visuals. The character models are comparable to bobble heads. with helmets are a bit too big for their bodies, and popping colors and designs. This odd attempt at being ”cutesy” goes against the Metroid atmosphere that the settings strive for, which puts the game at odds with itself. The overall colors and themes throughout Federation Force‘s levels are disappointingly bland. Every level on the ice planet looks the same, just as every level on the desert planet does. It’s a shame that the environments are so basic, since it makes each mission feel like more of a slog than it already is.
Federation Force has an alright soundtrack, though it isn’t particularly memorable. Occasionally you’ll hear a nicely remixed tune from the Metroid franchise, but the music serves as little more than background noise. Fortunately, it sometimes adds a sense of atmosphere to the otherwise dreary levels. The sound effects are a highlight in Federation Force, as they’re the most Metroid-accurate thing in the game. Every jump, blast, and enemy cry is full of techno sci-fi goodness, reminiscent of the more classic entries in the series.
The Final Word
Metroid Prime: Federation Force is everything I hoped it wasn’t. At best, the game is a misguided attempt at simplifying the Metroid formula, to poor results. The game is inescapably bland, and serves as an example of Nintendo’s misunderstanding of the franchise as a whole. This isn’t the Metroid game you’re looking for, meaning that for now, the franchise is still on ice somewhere in the Phendrana Drifts.
– MonsterVine Rating: 2 out of 5 – Poor