The review embargo for Metroid Prime: Federation Force has lifted, and you’re likely seeing reviews from other outlets at this time. We’re not quite ready to deliver our final verdict on the new first-person shooter from Next Level Games, but we are able to give some impressions on our experience so far.
The reveal of Metroid Prime: Federation Force at E3 2015 saw a high level of backlash, as fans of the series made it known that a four-player cooperative shooter on the 3DS was not the direction they wanted from the series. While those who are still waiting for Nintendo to reveal a 2D Metroid game will likely remain unhappy with Federation Force, I’ve been having a fun time with the Metroid spin-off title.
Shooters on handheld devices are often difficult to play, particularly with the 3DS, but the shooting mechanics of Federation Force are probably my favorite I’ve experienced on the system to date. The lock-on system works well most of the time (it runs into some trouble when several enemies or points of interest are in your view), and I’m enjoying the mod and tool systems that let you augment your abilities with things like rockets, armor plating, and a freeze shot. While I wasn’t a fan of the motion controls used for precision aiming in games like Splatoon and Star Fox Zero, I actually like the implementation of motion controls for Federation Force. If you want a more traditional setup, however, you can change your control scheme to use the added nub on the right side of the New 3DS for your precision aiming.
The levels are well-designed for the most part, but it quickly became evident during my playthrough that this is not a game designed for solo play. The early stages give little indication of this, but the more I played, the more I needed to spam missiles and rely on my A.I. Combat Drones to power through the levels. Unfortunately, you can’t join a lobby with a friend who is playing a stage you have not yet reached on your save file, meaning if you’re playing solo and you get stuck on a later stage, you need to find someone who is on that same level or higher to help you out. With the missions are designed to favor co-op over solo play, this feels like a big misstep that will prevent many players from being able to play with each other. When you are able to play with others, the experience is a better one.
The stages are bite-sized, lasting between 10 and 20 minutes most of the time, but when they don’t have any checkpoints, it can become tedious to replay the entire mission just because you failed at the very end. The missions could have greatly benefited from implementing some form of a checkpoint system rather than having you fail out immediately. In some later missions, a lengthy boss fight isn’t the end of the level, so you can still fail out even after spending a good chunk of time on a difficult boss. This leads to some infuriating moments in the campaign that affected my enjoyment of some of the missions.
Despite my complaints, I’m overall fairly on my Metroid Prime: Federation Force experience to this point. Even the Blast Ball side mode that drew such tremendous ire upon reveal scratches that Rocket League itch a bit and is a fun little mode. I hope to have my review up very soon, but if you’re looking for more impressions (as well as an impassioned debate about the game’s very existence), check out this week’s episode of the Game Informer Show.