Metroid Prime: Federation Force is going to be a lot of things. It’s going to make people salty. It’s going to be controversial. But it will also garner praise, and take fans that are willing to give an ‘unwanted’ title a chance into unexplored parts of the Metroid universe. That’s why Metroid Prime: Federation Force exists. It’s a wormhole for longtime Samus lovers into farther reaches of that galaxy, while simultaneously being with being a solid, portable sci-fi shooter.
Author’s note: I won’t be talking about Blast Ball at all. If you want to read about that I did a Hot Take a few weeks ago. Otherwise, get ready for some hot, fresh Federation Force.
- I think everyone can agree that graphically Federation Force is sub-par. Maybe even below sub-par. We know there are reasons for that. Put that aside though, because, aesthetically, Next Level Games has done a pretty decent job of bringing the Metroid Prime universe to the 3DS. It has all the design and flourishes that were staples in the Prime games, even if the character design is basic.
- Narratively it isn’t ground-breaking. What it does is treat the Metroid universe with reverence. It sentimentally looks back at the lore and creatures of the original Metroid Prime trilogy. Throughout the entire game you get the sense that the universe is expanding (the producer even said that was the purpose in an interview), and that they are laying a foundation for an epic story for Samus in the (hopefully) imminent Prime NX.
- Next Level Games did a great job with the variety of gameplay. Missions feel unique, with different goals and antagonists even when mechanics are reused. The controls will be divisive for some players. They are decent, but for those playing with the 3D effect on gyroscope aiming can be annoying. At least we won’t be getting hand cramps from stylus-aiming...
- Players looking for Samus’s zippy movement from the Prime trilogy look elsewhere. The Galactic Federation mech’s movement is mostly fluid, but creeps into slow/lurchy territory every so often.
- Single player get tough pretty quickly, even for veteran hunters like myself. You are going to have to play online at some point.
- Getting online is straightforward. You are given the option of hopping into a mission specific group, or creating a room yourself. I tended to create rooms because I was only playing online when lone-wolfing it wasn’t working out. Getting into a mission with a full squad is another story. While there wasn’t any noticeable lag, when I had a squad of three, one would almost always drop from play. Can’t say if that’s connectivity or what.
- Communicating with squad mates via the in-game text was shallow, but everyone usually understood what the mission goals were and did their part in fulfilling them.
- It’s obvious that replay-ability is important for this title. With three medals to earn in each mission, you’ll definitely be returning to each at least once after the initial play through. Some are easy to get on your own, while others will require a team effort. While replaying is fun the first few times, missions get old after the fifth or so attempt, making the content seem unnecessarily thin.
- Despite never letting you play as Samus, the game never lets you forget that she is a badass. She’s providing recon and is mentioned often in mission briefings. The first time you get a glimpse of her ship (not even her proper) in an early-mid game mission will make you giddy. The first time she ‘spoke’ to me I almost didn’t even notice till I saw her character in the bubble, and it felt like talking to a celebrity. It takes the legendary hunter and puts her on a pedestal and that’s what she deserves. It’s a game that knows she’s a badass. Knows that you know she’s a badass. And does it without stating it outright; without letting you even play her.
- Metroid fans will make connections to the original DS Prime title Metroid Prime: Hunters, but the similarities are almost completely superficial. The way the story progresses and how it informs the Metroid universe and Samus’s place in it is different. More importantly the depth to the gameplay and polish are leagues above in Federation Force.
Next Level Games got so much right in Metroid Prime: Federation Force, but for Metroid fans Nintendo’s own mishandling of the franchise put it in the wrong. A spin-off in the middle of turbulent times for the series? Why would we want that? But brave fans will see this is a Metroid for it’s fans. After even a few hours it never feels like a game with the Metroid moniker tacked on. It feels like a proper part of the Metroid franchise. One that feels like a confirmation: Nintendo loves Metroid just like it’s fans, and it has plans to take the series somewhere. (The timetable is just a little more loose than we’d like.)
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JpSr388 is a casual(ish) gaymer, hardcore Nintendo fan, designer & writer. He writes about what he cares about, and is always good for some opinions. Find his sexy ass on Twitter here. Or keep on the lookout for more editorial, QuickDraws, Hot Takes and reviews here.