When Metroid Prime: Federation Force was showcased for the 3DS at E3 2015, the internet wasn’t very pleased with what they saw. “A Metroid game not starring Samus? This won’t be good” was the general thought process that the internet had with the game, but I remained hopeful. The co-operative aspect was kind of interesting to me, and since Nintendo has already released games like Triforce Heroes, they could easily learn what works and what doesn’t to make this game better. Furthermore, Samus’ story, while somewhat interesting, was never a selling point to me in a Metroid game because the gameplay was always so good. Add to the fact that the game included Blast Ball, which looked very fun, and I was holding out on joining the Metroid Prime: Federation Force hate bandwagon.
I was wrong. I was very very wrong.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force is quite possibly the most disappointing game I have ever played in my 27+ years of gaming – and that says a lot. And really, it boils down to two factors as to why the game is so disappointing for me personally, and I feel will be for a lot of others.
The first reason is simple, the name. Think of it like this: when you purchase a Mario game, the name is very indicative of the gameplay style you will encounter. For instance, the Galaxy series showcases one type of gameplay, a New Super Mario Bros is another style, and a 3D Land or World showcases another. You have in your mind a certain gameplay style the game is supposed to bring to the gamer. Metroid Prime: Federation Force is clearly touted as a “Metroid Prime” game, but aside from the first-person view, there is nothing similar to the games in the franchise.
Exploration? Nope. The game drops you in various missions all with linear progression, with the length of the mission varying from a few minutes to up to 20. Strangely enough, there are no checkpoints within the mission, so you must either complete it or start from scratch, which is kind of weird for a handheld game.
Upgrades? Not really. In a normal Metroid game, during your exploration (which this game doesn’t feature) you come across upgrades that help you progress through the game. In this game, there is none of that, instead replacing upgrades with “mods” that you can equip to your suit. You find “mods” by veering off the standard path slightly (it’s pretty easy to find all the mods within a level) and then you can customize your character to your liking. “Mods” include power upgrades, and the ability to fire a decoy. While these are fine, they don’t add to the game at all, just to your character, which brings me to another problem.
Puzzles? Nope. Metroid, including the Prime series, has always had interesting puzzles that your upgrades would unlock. You could only access certain areas with certain upgrades, which made playing through areas again essential to progress through the game. Since there is linear progression in Federation Force, there are also no real puzzles within the game.
At this point I am starting to wonder why the game is called Metroid Prime: Federation Force at all. The game has no similarities to the franchise in which it is named after aside from the previously mentioned viewpoint, and it feels like a cheap way to get some sales based on the title.
The game is touted as a co-op experience, but I played through the game by myself. After playing it, I have no desire to replay the game with others because it’s just boring. In standard Nintendo style, there is no voice chat, instead focusing on pre-recorded terms that you can use.
The missions are padded with constant “enemy waves” to lengthen the game, and it’s just annoying and a poor design choice. There’s no incentive or any reason that makes me think the game would be more enjoyable with others at all, because the core design is so lacking.
The second main issue I have with Federation Force is the control scheme. For some reason, Nintendo attempted to force you to use the gyroscope to pin-point shoot your weapon after locking on, which is not a reasonable thing to do. Doing a boss battle while flailing your 3DS in your hands trying to hit the weak points of an enemy is inaccurate and annoying. The real kicker is that there are only 2 control schemes: using the gyroscope or using the additional analog nub on the New 3DS. So, I guess if you have just a standard 3DS, you are forced to use gyroscope controls. It’s too bad the 3DS doesn’t have a touchpad for aiming huh?
So far this entire review has been negative, so I know you are asking: is there anything done well in Metroid Prime: Federation Force? Well the graphics are one area the game shines. Levels look nice, the framerate is smooth, the colors are crisp and vibrant, and enemies are well animated. It’s a pretty sharp game graphically and it does help to bring you into the game a bit more.
Also, there is of course Blast Ball, which is fun. The game also lets you transfer over your Blast Ball demo data which is a nice touch. Blast Ball is basically a lot like Rocket League with instead of vehicles, you use your mech suit from the game. It’s mindless fun, attempting to score goals, but honestly it’s so much better than the rest of the game that I feel like this also was added in to increase sales potentially, as this could have easily been a separate eShop only title.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force is not a good game at all. When you find yourself just wanting to complete levels to see if the game ever changes and gets better, that’s a sign that something is very wrong. The core gameplay is simplistic, boring, and not the level of quality one would expect from a Metroid game. Other M may have been the most fan-derided Metroid game until now, but Federation Force will easily take the crown from here on out.