I’m not one for writing reviews. Maybe it’s because I have trouble coming off as sincere, or maybe it’s because I think the best review is to just play something yourself. Either way, I had to write something about this game, because for the 3 hours I’ve been playing it so far, I’ve been having a great time.
Note: there are some light spoilers in here, not in terms of story, but in gameplay features. If you’d rather be pleasantly surprised like I was, stop reading and play the game up to Level 8, which is as far as I’ve gotten prior to writing this.
Unlike what the psychopaths on the Internet might have you thinking, this was a game that was still highly anticipated by many. Following in the footsteps of the Zelda franchise, announcing a spin-off title a-la Triforce Heroes, Fedration Force is a game primarily designed to be played online. This fact I was unaware of, but mostly because I chose to ignore any and all news regarding the game. The way I understood it was that, much like Triforce Heroes, the game can be played solo, but by far the best way to experience it was with some other folks.
This holds true for Metroid Prime: Federation Force. I’ve currently completed merely 8% of the game (according to the Save Game on the home screen), played about 3 hours, and completed the first 8 levels. All of them online, and some of them offline as well.
I’ve got to say: I am having an excellent time with this game. Say what you will about the Chibi character designs: sure, they might not be cannon in the Metroid universe, but man are those little fellas cool looking.
One of the highlights for me so far was when I was playing online last night. I ended up getting matched in a terrific group where everyone was completely in sync. We were beating levels in record time, doing great… and then we got to Infiltration. That’s when I totally fell in love with this game.
In Federation Force, you control your characters in giant Mech machines. But your actual character is a miniature little Chibi person. In one particularly enraging yet still hilariously fun part of the level, you actually leave the Mechsuit behind and need to infiltrate a factory, as only your chibi character, sans weapons and anything else, except for the ability to jump. You need to sneak through a series of bridges and walls, not unlike Ocarina of Time sneaking through the garden in Zelda’s Castle, trying to avoid the guards. It’s a wonderful callback (though probably unintentional) that had me rolling, most likely because eventually we made it, not without having to revive each other probably two dozen times.
The messaging function is lackluster at times, yet works wonders once you’ve customized the default four messages and remembered which D-pad direction you bound them to. You also get some hilarious results when a teammate of yours does something stupid, and then lets out a “Sorry” in a high-pitched chipmunk voice. I had a great time in my group last night and many laughs were had. Not that Nintendo would ever consider this, but boy would a Voice Chat function be terrific at times. Of course, if I wanted to be insulted by eleven year-olds, I could just fire up Counterstrike.
Of course, as is the case when relying on total strangers to make or break a gaming experience with you – some people are just not that great at this game. Granted, it’s still new, so you do run into some folks who truly do not understand the mechanics of the game yet. The closest I ever came to rage-quitting was in a level where you have to capture Ice monsters by luring them into a cage, and then escaping before the doors shuts. One fella in particular kept getting himself stuck in the cage with the monster, being murdered over and over. So we had to keep running in to revive him, only to get killed again when we inevitably got locked in the cage. Still, in hindsight, it’s funny to reminisce about, and that by itself tells me that this game is full of good experiences with many on the horizon.
Let’s talk about controls for a minute. I think they work well. I have only tried the initial control scheme (there are two types), and after about three levels, my hands get pretty sore. The issue is that you need to wrap both hands around the L and R buttons for aiming purposes, but still have enough support and grip with that awkward positioning to stabilize the 3DS for button mashing. I think it works, but I would not have minded a return of the Metroid Prime: Hunters touch control scheme. And that’s me saying that, who is generally not a fan in the slightest of gimmicky controls.
There’s also the option of Blast Ball which is a great time, but the main campaign played online is the bread and butter of this game. Going into it as a multiplayer and singleplayer game isn’t the way to do it, in my opinion. If I had to recommend this game, I’d make sure the person I was trying to convince to buy it knew that they wouldn’t really enjoy playing it without a Wi-Fi connection. Like Triforce Heroes, it was clearly made for a full team, and without the chaos of strangers behaving strangely, it loses a lot, if not all, of its charm.
Overall: I recommend this game. If you like fun online shooters and especially anything Metroid like I do, you’ll have a good time.