After the destruction of Planet Phazon the malevolent Space Pirates still remain a threat to the galaxy. Thus a military campaign is devised to track down and rid the universe of the pirate scum. Operation Golem sees’ the development of mech suits able to take down any opposition. Now a “trained soldier” your sole mission is to hunt down these wicked beasts and finally restore peace to the Galaxy; A familiar story, yet one that never grows old. Off the back of majorly negative responses since it was first revealed Metroid Prime: Federation Force comes with a heavy burden. It may be a spin-off but does it deserve to carry the “Prime” legacy?
After initial training which I comically passed somehow, even though I hit two friendly’s and missed a dozen or so enemies (shows the state of this army), I’m apparently fit for action. Control wise you have the standard toggle stick to move and A to shoot. L to use lock on and R is to lock on further allowing you to move the 3DS itself for those awkward angles. Alternatively for new 3DS owners you have the option of using the c-stick. Owners of the original like myself are consequently left without any variation. Doesn’t seem very fair that we are punished just because we resisted an upgrade, anyway the controls on a whole don’t have any major issues as such and the only hindrance I found was the charge shot. For some unknown reason it takes a ridiculous amount of time to fully charge up meaning you do need to adjust and work around especially when attempting longer battles.
Getting the obvious out-of-the-way; Federation Force doesn’t stun viewers with its graphics. The jagged lifeless mechs provide no gasping moments like Metroid Prime first did. The drab colours were sometimes painful to handle on what is normally a beaming handheld, take the first planet Excelcion, (No not a spreadsheet infected world) this is your bog standard ice planet with lakes and snow covering all to see. There’s no character to it, nothing that makes you want to explore. The vast lands have been shrunk to little hubs. In the time spent completing different missions, I never truly felt like I explored the planet. Personally what most disappointed me was the lack of atmosphere. What made the Metroid Prime trilogy so brilliant was the baron, eerie planets that actually felt other worldly.
I don’t want to spend the entire review comparing Federation Force to previous games, though when you use the highly rated name its inevitable for comparisons to be made. Thus because of the naming convention many people expect a certain standard, Federation Force does little to deserve the title. Set in the same universe yet it feels massively disconnected from the original trilogy due to the faceless characters you meet throughout. An error on Nintendo’s part maybe as to stand the title on its own, I feel it would fare better.
On the brighter side if you are looking for great variety Federation Force has plenty to offer. Over the 22 missions across each planet you’ll rarely feel like you’re doing the same thing, whether it’s exterminating areas of infested creatures, defending your location or guiding a ball to a hole. These puzzles are the highlights requiring precision and a patient…that is easier said than done when you have space bugs advancing from all corners.
Not on the same scale as what you would expect on a console, the bosses are used effectively, appearing sometimes when you least expect it. The battles range well bringing some relentless foes that can really take some beating. Seriously I needed to pause on occasions because of my thumb aching! Consequently this can turn some battles arduous, although this was mostly on solo play.
Adventuring with friends (or bots if not) is key and brings the right amount of balance. Solo mode I struggled feeling the difficulty was a little imbalanced. When playing with four I felt overpowered never really feeling like I contributed much, That and getting in each other’s way to often becomes a gripe. Favourably two to three people suit best giving the greatest experience. Bumbling through the missions there were some strong and unintentionally humorous moments. The lack of communication did feel treacherous at times with only four phrases to use. This became more apparent when online unless you knew exactly what to do.
Another point to remember is when playing with friends you are limited to missions you both have completed, so if someone has just started you will have to endure revisiting levels. From the ground up, the layout and combat feel much more multiplayer focused and there is no doubt that like The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes its strength lies here.
Outside of the campaign you have Blast Ball which is essentially football with mechs. Using your weapons your team needs to “blast the ball” into the net. Simple right? Games have thrived under this theory with Rocket League being a recent example. The problem here is it’s just not fun. There seems to be little skill with frantically shooting the ball hoping it will roll into the opposing goal. The aiming is obviously key, but with everyone competent to do this it feels lifeless. Charge shots appear to be the only way to make a big difference; even then there isn’t much joy to be had. I wanted to be convinced that Blast Ball deserved its place in the Metroid universe, subsequently after half a dozen matches I’m confident I’ll never return. The lack of skill and monotonous shooting makes the mini-game an unsatisfactory experiment. Blast Ball has some potential though this time it felt more like an own goal.
With such negative reception surrounding the release it’s impossible not to at least feel a bit anxious going in. The series legacy holds such high standards and though it’s not tarnished you do feel it’s a little dampened. Lifeless characters and generic planets feel disconnected from the Metroid universe with only really combat reeling it back in. Solo play can be overwhelming meaning multiplayer is your best option even with lack of communication. Federation Force may not be as poor as the internet wants it to be, though apart from the mission variety there is little argument to be put forward. This is one space voyage that you’d be happy to let float right on by.
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