Review: Metroid Prime: Federation Force
NOTE: I played Metroid Prime: Federation Force for nearly 14 hours. In that time, I completed the campaign on single-player, tried out the the campaign online through matchmaking, and played a few rounds of Blast Ball multiplayer. This review is based only on my time spent with the game during this play through. Enjoy!
I don't know what your preconceived notion of Metroid Prime: Federation Force was after last year's E3 announcement, but if it was anything like most people's, think again. Federation Force is good, and as someone who's been cautiously optimistic since day one, I am so pleased to be able to report the good news. Whether you're playing with friends or by yourself, this game offers tons of hours of enjoyment, and possibly the best controls of any handheld first-person shooter.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force doesn't offer a groundbreaking story, that's not the game's intention. You are a member of the Federation Force and you are sent on a variety of missions across three planets to figure out what the Space pirates are up to. Samus Aran makes an occasional appearance, but other than that, there's not much more I can tell you about the story. The game's marketing emphasized four-player cooperative gameplay, but if you're like me and you play alone, you won't be disappointed. Federation Force offers single-players a handicap to increase power and three A.I. controlled drones to aid you in your journey. For me, this more than made up for the need of three buddies. Each missions has been carefully crafted to support one player just as well as four. I never felt like I was missing out by playing alone.
That being said, I did try the game out online with a group of strangers that I got matched with. I enjoyed playing with others about as much as I enjoyed playing solo. In fact, I think I preferred playing alone a bit more, as this game's environment does take inspiration from the series long-running desolate, environmental storytelling. One problem that I did encounter was Nintendo's typical shaky online connection. Although we've seen less of this in recent Nintendo games, I did lose connectivity from matches occasionally. However, I did not test the online functionality in multiple locations, so perhaps this was just my internet.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force offers 22 well crafted missions that will have you completing a variety of tasks including, searching bases, defending posts, guiding items to stations, and defeating bosses. I never felt like the missions became dull or dragged out at all. This was my biggest potential concern with the game, but I was completely engaged throughout my play through. The game's difficulty does ramp up about half-way through, but not to a point where the challenge became unfair. I did find myself often having to try missions three or four times before I got it right. This forced me to think more strategically about which mods and AUX ammunition I would equipped for each mission.
Now let's talk about mods and AUX ammo. Mods can be discovered throughout missions and provide players with extra buffs and skills. Up to three can be equipped at once, and they stay active until one breaks from dying too many times. AUX ammunition fuels your blaster with different types of ammunition such as a freeze blast, fire blast, super missile, etc. Before a mission starts, you can create your load out to best aid you in the mission. I would usually choose a couple of health packs, super missiles, and some freeze ammo, but eventually I had to start selecting wisely as load out space became limited, and missions required more strategy. Mods and AUX ammo add a great deal of variety to your play style outside of the traditional blaster and charge shot. Paired with a vast mix of enemy types, there are many different ways to go about your adventure.
Federation Force also controls really well. I played the game on a New Nintendo 3DS XL. That means I was able to take advantage of the newer hardware's c-stick and additional shoulder buttons. Because of this, I chose to go with the more console-oriented control scheme that let me control the camera with the c-stick. This control setup worked perfectly for me and I was able to adapt to it by the end of the first mission. However, the game recommends playing with the motion control setup. This requires using the 3DS' gyroscope to aim the camera. I did try playing the game this way, but like Splatoon, it took a lot of getting used to. I don't believe this is a bad control setup, I just think it requires some more adjustment than the classic setup.
Blast Ball is the game's competitive multiplayer mode. You may have recently tried it because Nintendo released a demo for it a few weeks back. Not too much is different for the full game. It is essentially a Rocket League inspired multiplayer game that is fun to play, but it didn't hold my attention that long. Matches are quick and exciting, and offer unlockable content as well as player ranking. I'm sure Blast Ball has a market somewhere else, but for me, I'd rather stick to the game's campaign content.
Overall I really enjoyed my time spent with Metroid Prime: Federation Force. The team at Next Level Games clearly put a lot of care and love into the games unique design. If the chibi art style is what has been holding you back from trying this excellent 3DS game, you're really denying yourself a great experience. I would recommend Federation Force to any Metroid fan that owns a 3DS. Whether you're playing by yourself or with a group of friends, Metroid Prime: Federation Force is a blast!