Metroid Prime Federation Force 3DS Review
Creative level design
Multiplayer makes the game fun and fully playable
Controls take some time getting use to be actually work well
Difficulty and mission objectives do not scale according to the number of players playing
It is not the 2D Metroid that we all want
No checkpoints and can only play stages you have unlocked – no skipping ahead
Not What You Wanted But Not Bad
The last 2D Metroid was the Gameboy Advance’s Metroid Zero Mission back in early 2004. Although the 3D Metroid Prime series was well received during the GC and Wii era, along with several Virtual Console re-releases, fans have been frothing at the mouth for a new 2D Metroid. With this said, fan backlash was pretty strong when Nintendo first announced Metroid Prime Federation Force was going to be a new FPS squad-based shooter on 3DS instead of a new 2D edition or even a remake of Metroid II. Even though Federation Force is a game no one asked for it is surprisingly entertaining in its own right.
Unlike the Prime games on GC and Wii, Federation Force is mission based, unlocking new missions as previous ones are completed as opposed to adventuring thought one large interconnected world. Actually, this 3DS exclusive reminded me of Metal Gear Peace Walker as each unlocked mission can be played solo or up to four players either locally or online. While the entire game can be played solo, it is highly recommended to play with at least a couple other players.
There are some missions that are simply too difficult when played solo as enemy AI or mission objectives do not change depending on the number of players present. To help offset this, the game instantly unlocks a MOD, an optional buffing system, that grants solo players double offensive strength and half damage. Unless you are a seasoned veteran, you will pretty much need to use this buff every time when playing solo.
Since the campaign doesn’t care how many players are present, this creates a couple of annoying flaws. First, some missions are nearly impossible to beat solo let alone with a good score; good scores also yield medals which also unlocks content. One mission, for example, pits you against a giant turtle boss that must be defeated in a certain time frame. Or, another mission tasks the player to defend a certain area until all enemies are defeated. There is even a mission where you have to push and protect a mine cart. These are all great examples of how teamwork is critical to success in Federation Force.
Making matters worse, there are no check points. There were several times in which I wanted to play online co-op, but no one wanted to play my specific level. After waiting for 10 minutes in the online lobby, I would back out and try for solo success. I would get to the end of the stage, only to die because the objective is simply too difficult for solo play. Needless to say, it is super frustrating to die at the end of a stage and having to replay the entire mission again.
Thankfully, if you do manage to hop in a matchmaking session, online play is smooth and fast loading. Like all online Nintendo games, there is no voice chat but phrases can be mapped to the d-pad to announce calls for help or praises of thanks. In my experience, the Metroid Prime Federation Force online community also seems pretty helpful and dedicated. Since the entire squad needs to work together, especially if you want to earn each mission’s three medals, my experience in playing online was quite pleasant.
For the most part, each mission is bite-sized and well suited to the portable environment. Most stages can be completed around ten minutes, so if you do die, the pain becomes bearable. Each mission is also varied even though the game is spread across three planets. From the first few missions, the player might assume that it is a simple “start at point A and get to point B” to finish. But this formula quickly branches off into creative paths by offering totally unique objectives. There are even a couple stages where the player has to get out of the giant mech suit and sneak around without any offensive capabilities. It is strange because this is a Metroid game but yet many Metroidisms are not present, like gaining access to new areas through the use of new tools and abilities, there are no missile and health enhancements to find, and each stage is mostly linear. But, thanks to the creative level design, these features are not missed despite being a Metroid game.
Without giving away too many spoilers, Samus makes a few quick cameos but is never playable, and the ending (specifically the extended ending) leaves the door wide open for future games. Federation Force does support amiibos as well. I recommend scanning the suited Samus amiibo because it grants the player additional missiles upon pick up. The Zero Suit Samus amiibo can also be scanned to unlock an additional gameplay perk. Scanning other amiibos unlocks a skeleton skin that looks cool but doesn’t have the quality buff of the Samus amiibo.
There is still plenty to do once the campaign is finished. Besides playing through each mission in Hard mode or trying to unlock all medals, Blast Ball is also included on the cart. Blast Ball is basically Rocket League but with mech suits shooting at a giant soccer ball. This three-on-three multiplayer mode can be played against bots, locally, or online. While the goal is to shoot the ball into your opponent’s goal, strategy comes into play since the player can also shoot to destroy an opposing mech. The giant ball can even roll over players to deal tons of damage. Some might skip this mode entirely as there is no tie into the main campaign but can provide some challenge for those willing to take it. And again, I don’t want to provide too many spoilers, but the final boss and stage of the campaign actually ties all of Federation Force’s gameplay elements together in a creative way. Metroid fans should appreciate it.
Like you, I wish Nintendo would just give us that 2D Metroid we have been begging for. Because I want to see what happens to Samus after Metroid Fusion so bad, I was mad at Federation Force when Nintendo release the first trailer for the game back at E3. But my love of the series made me purchase a copy of Federation Force upon launch and I am glad I did. It might not be classic Metroid but it is still a quality game and one of the better squad based shooters I have played in a while.
Better Than: Metroid Prime Hunters
Also Try: Destiny or Zelda Four Swords
Wait For It: Metroid Prime Pinball 2
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com