Metroid Prime: Federation Force Review

Not ready for prime time.

Metroid Prime: Federation Force is the first Metroid game in more than half a decade, coming hot on the heels of the series' 30th anniversary. Rather than walk in the footsteps of its forebears and thrust you into another adventure as spacefaring bounty hunter Samus Aran, Federation Force puts you in the boots of a no-name foot soldier and tasks you to complete nearly two-dozen short missions. You can play alone--using an item that boosts your strength to help even the odds--but you're highly encouraged to team up with other players locally or online.

Even though it bears the title of the renowned franchise, Federation Force is only tenuously connected to the Metroid universe, with its only strong links to the series being a few cameos and references. But it's the inconsistent gameplay and difficulty spikes that make it tough to love, rather than the tenuous connection to its beloved namesake.

First and foremost, this is a first-person shooter where you spend a lot of time fighting armed ground troops, flying pirates, and occasional space bugs. Moving and aiming work surprisingly well, and uses a combination of the 3DS analog stick and gyroscopic sensors. With a New 3DS system, you can use the secondary stick to control the camera for more traditional, console-like controls. Save for your modest walking and turning speed, Federation Force's mechanics are sound and work as expected from the get-go.

Rather than build up an array of powerful weapons as you progress into the campaign, you have access to a slew of weaponry practically from the start, including missiles, elemental ammo, proximity mines, and decoys. You pick and choose your loadout from ammo reserves prior to each mission, but you can pick up replenishments from item boxes within levels, regardless of your initial selection.

For the most part, you succeed by shooting what you can with whatever you've got, and if an ally falls, you can revive them by rapidly tapping a button next to their mech.

In multiplayer, everyone in your party pulls from the same ammo pool before heading into battle. With no voice chat online, you're left to communicate via impersonal, predefined text strings if you want to strategize loadouts with your team. You can see how breaking up offensive and recovery items pre-mission could facilitate forming roles within your squad, but missions fail to incentivize such behavior. For the most part, you succeed by shooting what you can with whatever you've got, and if an ally falls, you can revive them by rapidly tapping a button next to their mech.

Missions offer little in the way of exploration, with secondary objectives that feed into your score serving as the primary incentive to think outside of the box. Even here, Federation Force loses its head, since there comes a point during multiple missions where you aren't rewarded points for shooting enemies due to an imposed score limit. You can look for cracked walls and bust them open to discover equippable mods that slightly enhance your stats, but you end up with so many middling mods that they begin to feel like an afterthought only a few missions in. A few are helpful in a pinch, but most offer incremental, almost-indiscernible boosts. It doesn't take long before going the extra mile becomes an afterthought.

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Simple puzzle-based missions, by and large, fail to match the occasional excitement of combat, but they break up the predictable stream of alien grunts nonetheless. These mini-challenges typically involve shooting balls with your gun to roll them from one end of a map to another, navigating around obstacles and incoming fire along the way. But there comes a point in one mission where you pick up a ball using your suit's tractor beam, and you wonder why you were forced to deal with the convoluted process of shooting the balls to and fro in the first place. It's a minor contradiction, but one that feeds into the game's overarching sense of disarray.

Though you spend most of your time suited up in a mech, you occasionally need to abandon it to sneak into tight spaces and flip an access switch. You’re unarmed and diminutive compared to the space pirates that stand in your way, and Federation Force forces you to play stealthily during these sections--benign diversions that neither thrill nor pose a meaningful challenge.

Federation Force doesn't shine as a single-player experience because mission parameters and variables are balanced for larger parties and remain set in stone regardless of your party size.

There are times, however, when the game is too difficult or too easy for its own good; it all depends on the size of your squad. As I reported last week, Federation Force doesn't shine as a single-player experience because mission parameters and variables are balanced for larger parties and remain set in stone regardless of your party size. I hit a wall about a third of the way through the game when playing alone and eventually teamed up with a coworker. Together, we progressed further in the campaign but found ourselves outgunned with only a few missions left. I was able to team up with a full squad (four players) this past weekend, and sure enough, we completed the final few missions without fail. It should’ve been cause for celebration, but victory came almost too easy. A boss that a team of two couldn't finish in 20 minutes was effortlessly pummeled into submission in less than five minutes with a full team.

I spent more time with the game after finishing the campaign, tackling missions with teams of two, three, and four players, and concluded that there's no perfect fit for Federation Force as a whole. Playing by yourself the entire time is too difficult to be fun during certain missions--your punishment for failure is having to restart the entire mission--but playing with a full squad makes even the game's toughest encounters too easy to appreciate. In a game with discrete modes for playing solo or with a team, it's reasonable to expect that the game would cater its difficulty levels accordingly. Save for an item that boosts your damage output and armor, you're granted no meaningful advantage when playing alone. Even if you get a stat boost when playing solo, you can't be in two, let alone four places at once, and you can't repeatedly revive yourself when you run out of health.

Federation Force is lopsided; it presents simple rules and scenarios, but the variables therein fluctuate with no discernible rhyme and reason. If you manage to somehow land in a mission with the appropriate number of people, boss fights in particular can feel exciting, but you shouldn't be penalized for playing with a squad of any size when the game casually allows it. You can take the time to seek out a team whose size meets your needs, but that's bending over backward to accomplish something that should be handled for you. Unless you know missions like the back of your hand, you may find yourself unsure of how big that team should be in the first place.

When you strike the right balance between a mission and the size of your party, Federation Force is a decent co-op shooter with standout controls that provides a few hours of enjoyment. Unfortunately, it can just as easily frustrate you or bore you for no reason other than its static difficulty. Metroid devotees may not find a game that aligns with their deepest desires, but that alone isn't cause for concern here. In fact, Samus groupies may be thrilled to know that a post-credits sequence appears to hint at a new chapter in the Prime saga. This tip of the hat may inspire warm and fuzzy feelings for a moment, but an implied announcement for a game people have been asking for doesn't wash away the bad taste of a game that nobody wanted. Expectations for Metroid aside, Federation Force fails to make a case for itself in the end.

And then there's Blast Ball: the soccer-like game where you and two other players face off in matches against bots or other players, shooting a massive ball with your gun in hopes of knocking it into your opponent's goal. Blast Ball is nothing short of a chaotic frenzy where everyone fires at the ball simultaneously, aching for total control but never achieving it. More than a sport, Blast Ball is a war of attrition. Your controls work just as well as the main game, but there's almost zero room for skill or nuanced play. Having more to do in a game for the sake of having options isn't an automatic victory. If anything, Blast Ball is an unnecessary reminder of how mediocre Federation Force is as a whole.

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The Good
Solid controls
Boss fights can be exciting with the right number of players
The Bad
Unbalanced difficulty
Convoluted puzzles
Small, uninspired levels
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Peter completed Federation Force's campaign through a mixture of solo and cooperative play, with players local and online. He participated in a half-dozen matches of Blast Ball, and chalked every one of his goals up to luck. He reviewed Federation Force using a copy of the game provided by Nintendo.
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R.I.P. Metroid

Avatar image for sydneyaran

While I agree that you may need to play games to see if their for you or not, I don't need to for this one. To me this isn't a Metroid game without Samus. That's like making a Legend of Zelda game without Link.

Avatar image for hochstreck

Now, after having actually played this game for around 40 hours, I'm really surprised by its quality: In its basics, this game plays alot like Metroid Prime with one exception: the overarching world-structure of Prime is switched for a mission-based system, which in turn is by far better suited for Co-op.

The missions are very varied and well crafted. There is a surprisingly large selection of enemy-types and gimmicks unique to specific missions. There are riddles to solve and several cool bosses to conquer, along with many other things. All missions can be cleared alone, without much of a sweat. If the game is too easy for you, you can increase the difficulty easily by not using a special Singleplayer-Mod(your mech can be equiped and modifed with them) and/or refusing to use drones replacing teammates.

The graphics are pretty on your 3DS and never slow down - no matter how much action is taking place. The game even manages to feel astonishing atmospheric. Also, I have not encountered a single bug in this game so far and the Online-Play works exceptionally well.

The only thing where this game falls flat, is the lack of an interesting story.

Considering all these points and remembering the preposterous reviews of "Codename: Steam", "Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze" and "Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes"(as all three games are actually pretty good), I really begin to doubt the sanity of the review-standards for this site, as there are so many games with much higher ratings, which are straight to the point inferior to Federation Force, gameplaywise. Games like "No Men's Sky", "Crysis 2" or your average CoD in singleplayer etc.

To give quality games like this one and Triforce Heroes a meager 5/10 appears highly irrational and toxic to me(toxic, because you shouldn't punish studios or publishers for trying something new, reasoned and polished with their IPs).

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

Video game development is a zero sum game. And just think, we could have gotten a real Metroid game instead.

Avatar image for Bahamut50

I'm not surprised in the least. The facts are simple; this game was a slap in the face to people who just wanted a solid, new entry in the Metroid series. Instead, we got a middling team shooter that only exacerbates the issue. Don't buy this game. Show Nintendo that they have to step it up.

Avatar image for hochstreck


No, actually it isn't, because in draws in more people(like younger people) to buy a major classic entry to the series.

The more people are interested in a major and highly expensive to make metroid-game, the higher the chance it will be made.

Please never forget, that Metroid, as a Series, hasn't sold all that well so for. Some of its most iconic entrys like "Super Metroid" bombed financially.

Avatar image for Mudvayne84

@hochstreck: This isnt what would be considered a major classic entry into the series though? It barely references the Metroid story, but rather just exists in the same universe. I guess I don't see this introducing any younger players to the main story...

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@Mudvayne84: It will help motivate them to play other Metroids if they enjoy the game.

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I love Metroid. I love my New 3DS XL. But the *one* thing holding me back is what Pete says in the interview, the fact you can't beat this game solo. Why the hell would Nintendo think it's ok to release a game where the ONLY way you can beat it is by being in a group. I get its the hook for this game to squad up but I don't like playing online and prefer solo experiences with my games.

If they were to patch in a way where the game could be completed solo I would buy this in a heartbeat. It really hurts I won't be buying this game. I really wanted to.

Avatar image for rushiosan

@PompousDawson: You can beat it solo. In fact, most missions are EASIER to rack up highest scores by going solo WITHOUT the Lone Wolf mod that doubles your damage and shields (you get a bonus for not using it). Hard Mode, however, was made for 4 excellent players locally.

Avatar image for dogpigfish

@PompousDawson: The game gives you two mods at the beginning that allow you to play solo if you so incline, one that makes you stronger and another that brings you back if you die. The fact that the game holds your hand through that option and reviewers are not picking up on that is baffling. I'm not sure where the scrutiny is coming from. Absolutely crazy!

Avatar image for PompousDawson

@dogpigfish: Ok so if I were to play and die again and again I can just keep coming back? Or is it a single use power up and when you die again your start over? I agree I wish they had gone a little more in depth to how playing the game solo functions.

Did you beat it solo Pigfish?

Avatar image for dogpigfish

@PompousDawson: Yep, I've played maybe 7 or 8 solo and beat them just fine. The main mod that they give has enough power to make you the equivalent to 2 players. The return to life mod is like a 1 up, it breaks after each use and you'll have to equip another if you did die once. They throw a bunch at you, so they're easy to get. Here's the thing, you open more mod slots and can carry more weapons the more you play, so it will gradually make you more powerful. It's deeper and more gratifying the more missions you play and you get to keep any found mods even if you fail the mission.

Avatar image for iandizion713

@PompousDawson: You can complete the hardcore modes on solo. This game is not easy, but its not all that hard either once you figure out which weapons are effective with what and how to take down things more properly. This game is not as hard as Dark Souls, Wonderful 101, Star Fox Zero, or Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze i would say. Not even the hardcore mode in my opinion.

Now coop is another story. Ive died way more in coop cause sometimes other players make the game harder. I cant count how many times ive died on lvl. 9 Blender where you have to move transport carts through electrical storms. That mission was destroying people, but we play on hardcore mode and its a lot easier. People figured it out and got better.

Avatar image for iandizion713

GameXplain gave an awesome review too, they loved it. Seems the game features an insane amount of nostalgia for Metroid Prime fans. Has Metroid Prime controls and its story is crazy about Samus Aran. I would expect ever Metroid fan to find something to love, and even just fans of coop or just fun shooters in general. This game is a rare gem that caters to a very diverse audience.

Avatar image for JustPlainLucas

What an insult to Metroid fans. Since the moment this game was announced, so many fans were very vocal they did not want this game, yet Nintendo made the game anyway.

Avatar image for rushiosan

@JustPlainLucas: I don't remember purist fans being that upset and trying to cancel games like Yoshi's Island for SNES (baby-themed game where you don't play as Mario), Metal Gear Solid 2 (where you don't exactly play as Snake) or Mario 64 (which many would argue it wouldn't work because Mario always was a 2D platformer).

The internet sure changed the gaming community for worse.

Now everyone acts like a business analyst and want to judge incoming projects based on a couple trailers, and even make petitions to cancel them, like they had a share of a certain company's capital, and had the right to decide how to properly use a certain intellectual property before even TRYING the partial/final product.

And you wonder why the videogame market is facing a creativity crisis...

Avatar image for JustPlainLucas

@rushiosan: Changing shit just to change shit does not make one creative. That's been Nintendo's problem for a long time. Your examples don't quite work, though, because they all turned out to be quality games and they also EVOLVED in their respective series (and yes, there was quite a bit of upset people when they found out that over half of MGS 2 was played by Raiden, AFTER the game was out).

People knew right off the bat, though, that this would be a bad Metroid game. Sometimes you don't need to stick your hand in shit to smell it afterward to know that you stuck your hand in shit.

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@JustPlainLucas: People are obviously often quite stupid(stupid slogans like the one at the end of your post DO NOT help with that), as this game is far away from being bad - it's the contrary: This game is actually pretty decent, as well as thoughtful in applying the Metroid-Prime-formula to a structure well suited for Co-op.

So please: Turn away your fork and torch and play the game before coming to flawed conclusions.

Avatar image for sydneyaran

@hochstreck: It's not Metroid without Samus. Nobody wants to play as walla characters despite the fact that it may by a good game. Nintendo didn't listen to the fans when it received the negative response at it's unveiling. To me it's basically like Final Fantasy XII, it has the name on the box that people know, but doesn't have what people want.

Avatar image for JustPlainLucas

@hochstreck: Is it? The user score here is 4.6. The Metacritic score is 64 with a user score of 5.2. Because you say the game isn't bad doesn't negate that the majority of people feel it's bad, or at least subpar. Honestly, I DON'T need to play this game to know that it isn't for me. What I DO know is how it's structured, which doesn't interest me and I DO know how the game looks, which appalls me. I'm sure the gameplay mechanic at its core is solid, but that isn't enough for me. I dislike the style of this game completely. And well, if you purchase the game for me, I'll gladly try it, but I refuse to spend money on a game that I most likely will not end up liking.

So please, don't take it so personally when someone trashes a game you enjoy. Go back to playing your game.

Avatar image for hochstreck

@JustPlainLucas: Low user-scores come mostly from people, who haven't played the game and intend to punish it for not offering your standard Metroid-structure. They basically act like your average lynchmob.

If people like you pulled their heads out of their asses, you would notice(like many players using Miiverse), that FF plays ALOT like the famed Metroid Prime, as pretty much everything(and more) is there: Accessible yet frantic action, puzzle solving, jumping sequences, exploration and things to find, exciting bossfights, no bugs etc. - except for an overarching world(which isn't well suited at all for co-op) and catchy music.

And I don't have much of a problem with people critizing something - as long as their arguments are sane in some way and not some "shi*storming bullshi*".

Avatar image for JustPlainLucas

@hochstreck: I see you ignored my mention of the critic scores. Usually what happens when a game that's getting roasted by critics that's actually a really good game is that user scores go up to offset what fans of the game call low-balling. That isn't the case here. People genuinely do not like the game. People don't have to agree with you, and you need to understand that. Don't go personally attacking people because their opinions don't mesh with yours.

I don't care what people on Miiverse say. Those are fans with vested interest in the game, because they bought and it chose to like it. Of course they're going to say positive things about it. What that doesn't change, however, is my interest in the game based on the style of game that I know it to be. I do not want a co-op multiplayer focused Metroid. I simply don't.

Avatar image for MirkoS77

If Nintendo deems to treat one of not only their founding franchises but one that also has given birth and imitation to numerous others in such a manner, they are lost. Metroid deserves better than this, especially 30 years on. Disgraceful.

Nintendo loves games? Appears to me they love profit from selling out one of their most revered franchises to the quickest cash-in with the least amount possible put in more. Until I see another mainline entry, I can only believe this is the treatment they afford one of their past glories henceforth.

Where is the Nintendo that made a name for itself? This ain't it.

Avatar image for rushiosan

@MirkoS77: The thing is: despite some of their games not meeting our expectations, they still make good, very polished gaming experiences. And commonly FINISHED products, something you can't say about many big videogame companies.

Avatar image for DanielL5583

I honestly did not want this game to flop. I mean, I had no intentions of playing it at all, rather I would just acknowledge its existence and move on. But to see this flop is a bit sad to me.

I do hope this only leads onto something else for the Metroid series. Something for NX, maybe? After all, it's the only Nintendo franchise I really genuinely care about, and they don't seem to be doing a very good job of keeping me invested...

Avatar image for Ezioprez9709

Release the conspiracy theorists!

Avatar image for AtariKidX

A very fair review for the worst metroid game.......wait...this is not even a metroid game.What a shit from nintendo.........

Avatar image for troll_elite

Excellent review. Another quality product from Nintendo...

Avatar image for rglgathrawn

@troll_elite: Except Nintendo didn't make the game, some random company I never heard of did. Nintendo is still one of the 3 best developers of games out there and will continue to be so until everyone else takes sticks out their butts and stops doing DLC, season passes, commissioning newbie developers to do sloppy ports (ala the recent Marvel Ultimate Alliance games on PC), making games so rushed, a big patch has to come out in the same week.

Avatar image for DanielL5583

@rglgathrawn: To be fair, it was also "some random company I never heard of" that made the Metroid Prime series, and another random company that made Prime Hunters, and yet another that made Prime Pinball.

This isn't exactly unusual for Metroid...

Avatar image for Halloll

I like it though I don't see why they gave it a 5 ( old GS 5 = almost broken game), it also controls way better than Overwatch on consoles.

Avatar image for Mudvayne84

@Halloll: It explains it right there in the score. 5 = mediocre. Not broken...

Avatar image for Artwark

This review is better. While I'm upset that the game recieves a low score, atleast the review is proper....unlike IGN and the Nintendo Enthusiast......

Avatar image for PinchySkree

Half a dozen matches eh.

Avatar image for dogpigfish

Nope. Easily my "Game of the Year", Destiny meets Metroid. Best game I've ever played and I would say by the heavy online missions and traffic, most people agree with me. This game feels good to play and has an incredible lore and story to pull from. Good job Nintendo!

Avatar image for iandizion713

@dogpigfish: Same, this game is addicting and the servers are staying full, so must not be just us. Plus this game has only released in US, so will get better.

Avatar image for asclepiusx

@dogpigfish: HAHAHAHAHAHA

Avatar image for nintendoboy16

After this game, it's going to be even more cringe worthy to hear Metroid fanboys beg for more of that IP, nevermind Other M and this being to Metroid what Sonic 06 and Boom being to Sonic the Hedgehog, which should be a justified reason for leaving the series to either wait a little longer, or just die (like what people beg out of The Simpsons these days). There's a reason Nintendo doesn't celebrate ANY anniversary for this series (something SEGA had the gall to do with Sonic's 15th).

Avatar image for zeldafan195

@nintendoboy16: We're not asking for more of this garbage, we're asking for a real Metroid game. If 1 person can deliver that in the form of Axiom Verge, I think Nintendo can do it with Retro Studios, the creators of the Prime trilogy.

Avatar image for rglgathrawn

@nintendoboy16: Except Other M was actually REALLY fun to play. Sure, the story was meh, but it was the first Metroid game to even attempt a coherent storyline (not to mention the first to use voice acting). Sonic 2006 was balls, balls, and more balls. And buggy as hell, which is something else Other M never was when I played it. Besides, Metroid isn't even THAT great anyway. The original is really meh once you play Super Metroid, Metroid II (on the GameBoy) was panned by critics and many gamers much like this one was, and Zero Mission was basically one of the first gaming HD remasters. Fusion was great, but that was only because it was the Super Metroid team.

I find the Prime games vastly overrated, especially when people use it in discussion of best FPS games ever. Has anyone even played them lately? They've aged poorly to say nothing of trying to aim with analog sticks. Plus the game was very disorienting when trying to navigate the endless mazes and tedious backtracking. At least in the 2D days, you could attempt to create your own map. Good luck doing that in a 3D first person view game. That's actually one thing that Other M improved upon, not padding out the game's length by having you go back to the beginning of the map 500 times.

Avatar image for Derpalon

@rglgathrawn: It's refreshing to hear someone not parrot the same tired tripe from the Metroid fanbase. I agree with pretty much all of your assessments.

Avatar image for iandizion713

@nintendoboy16: Difference being that Sonic BOOM game was made by a poor studio and barely even worked. This game is made by a great Studio and you can really tell, its polished to the key. Plus its super fun.

Avatar image for metallinatus

@nintendoboy16: Sonic is the only thing that keeps Sega from completely falling into oblivion, though....

They will celebrate their asses off to anything Sonic.

Metroid Prime: Federation Force More Info

  • First Released Aug 19, 2016
    • 3DS
    Join a four-player local or online squad in this co-operative sci-fi shooter set in the Metroid universe. Hop in a specialized battle Mech suit and work with your teammates to take down enemy forces and complete objective- based missions. Then, take a break and play a fun, pick-up game of Blast Ball with fellow troops.
    Average Rating13 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Metroid Prime: Federation Force
    Developed by:
    Next Level Games
    Published by:
    First-Person, Shooter, 3D, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Fantasy Violence