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Metroid Prime: Federation Force

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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Metroid Prime Federation Force.

Transcript Edit

The relationship between Nintendo and its fanbase is a royally fucked up one, I think it's fair to say. And all that business with broken televisions probably classifies it as abusive. Albeit, the kind that's gotten so weird that Domestic Violence Shelter eventually blocked their number. If it weren't just Nintendo getting drunk and punchy because nobody bought the new Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, then perhaps it could be understood. But there are some bizarre mind games going on here as well. Nintendo fans, don't you see that this isn't healthy? Remember when Nintendo abandoned you on the highway because it thought it had a good thing going with casual gaming audience and you had to hitch a ride home in the back of a dog catcher's van? "No, no, they apologized for that. And it was my fault anyway, I should have liked Wii Music more." Things have reached a new low with Metroid Prime: Federation Force. It's not just not catering to the fans anymore, now it's going out of its way to finally break their spirit once and for all. It's like Nintendo promised to buy them a puppy, and they came downstairs on Christmas morning to find a load off Korean takeout containers under the tree. 

If you weren't familiar with Metroid and think it's the word for a hemorrhoid exclusive to people who ride inner city public transport, Metroid is a classic series of scifi exploration games and the protagonist Samus Aran is as inseparable from them as a dose of the herps - a stoic, independent space bounty hunter fighting a lone crusade against the evils of the galaxy, except in Metroid: Other M, where she was a squeaking, catholic school girl wearing a collection of plastic mixing bowls. Meanwhile, the Federation are a military force that occasionally show up in Metroid games to get indiscriminately murdered and humiliated by whatever needs to be established as threatening today. Making a game entirely about them is therefore precisely the same logic that brought us Aliens: Colonial Marines, another game that was a dripping stalactite of frozen piss above a once respectable dinner party. And what makes it all the mightier a kick in the tits is that there was no need for any of this.  

Federation Force looks and plays passably like a Metroid Prime game with the usual 3DS provisos that turning around is as ponderous as a merry-go-round full of elephant seals and playing for too long makes my hands feel like a pair broken deck chairs frozen to the pier in the Blackpool winter. So why didn't they make another Metroid Prime game? With Samus Aran in an atmospheric alien world and a free exploration Metroidvania style to which the franchise once lent its name, instead of something very conspicuously un-Metroid, besides the fact it stole Metroid's underpants and wore them on its face. Why must we play as a midget inside a robot suit and since the missions are spent more or less entirely inside the robot suits, why even establish that we are actually tiny rice crispy elves, except to make things all the more humiliating. I can tell you that it's not because they didn't want to include Samus Aran cause she constantly shows up in dialogues and missing briefings. It's like the game's holding her over you like a cruel dog owner whose closed hand might not even contain a biscuit at all. "Samus Aran just showed up and told us about another pirate bay. Shame that you missed her, she's such a cool and stoic with crackin' tits. She also brought us some homemade fudge, but we ate it all before you got here." The only justification I can see is that the game goes for four-player coop focus and there's only Samus Aran to go around. But if four clones of Luigi can be sucking each other off in Luigi's Mansion 2, then I'm sure Samus could have gotten a sorority sister slumber party going. Besides, who the fuck turns to the 3DS for their online multiplayer-focused games? I'd nominate a more suitable platform, but my list basically starts with 'all of them'. Or are Nintendo still trying to normalize the idea that people might show up to a dinner party their 3DSes as an alternative to post-prandial pictionary without it seeming weird. Perhaps a slightly more realistic scenario in a school setting, but it still hinges on not only at least four people buying this game, but on them also not being ashamed to admit that they bought this game. 

The story is: there are three planets: the ice world, the desert world and the world that also turned up, and the federation are tasked to go there and murder wild life until the space pirates appear, which we know for absolute fact will happen because at the start the commander-type bloke goes "Don't worry, there's no way the space pirates will show up." Rather than each planet having a big, interconnected world to explore, like it were some kind of fucking Metroid game, it's entirely mission-based and we get dropped into small collections of rooms to complete single objectives. There is a solo-play mode, but it is a trap. It will sucker you in with some easy stuff early on, but eventually will bring out the missions that are next to impossible without other players. There'll be 500 of those space pirates that totally weren't going to show up, smashing up the thing you're supposed to defend. And you can have all the missiles in the world, but you can only be in one place at a time, slowly rotating like a microwave dinner. There is also another multiplayer mode which is Rocket League. That's about all there is to say about it. It's Rocket League, except everyone's shooting at the ball instead of hurling themselves at it like six excitable dogs with only one biscuit. And I imagine it would have been very thrilling if I could have persuaded the connection to remain intact for the duration of an entire match. 

You know what? I have formulated a theory. From the things we hear about in the missing briefings about how Samus Aran has been running around offscreen being the best at everything, Federation Force feels like The Darkness II-style coop campaign running in parallel to the plot of the main single player campaign that isn't actually there. So maybe there was an actual Metroid Prime 3DS game being developed at some point that had the shitty multiplayer mode that must exist as part of the game industry's pact with Satan, but resources ran thin and something had to be cut out, so they cut the single player campaign because the crazy-pills salesman came around that morning giving out free samples. And then someone said "Wait, people will be annoyed about this decision." And their boss popped another crazy pill and said "You're right! We'd better put in a soccer minigame to molify them. After all, the kind of fanboys who wasted their tender years learning to speedrun Metroid on the slim promise of pixel tittie are also notoriously keen on teen sports." 

Metroid Prime was the game that successfully translated the atmosphere and feel of Metroid to a 3D first-person format. But Nintendo seems to have treated it like the red-headed step-child ever since. First the sequels were kinda shit, then it's officially declared non-canon in favor of Other M, which is like taking away your child's christmas presents so that the cat can choke to death on it, and now this. "Oh stop comparing it to the Metroid you wanted it to be, Yahtzee. Can't you just except that Nintendo wanted a new direction and made something a bit more family-friendly? After all they've only got like ninety billion other franchises that do that." Well then why did they even call it Metroid Prime, except to deliberately fuck with Metroid Prime fans? They could easily have chucked Samus Aran in the air lock and more honestly called it Interstellar Midget Footballers, or Tangential Metroid Universe Thing Starring The Cast Of Willow or Don't Buy This Game, It's Shit

Addenda Edit

  • Taken By Force: Ben "Yahtzee Croshaw"
  • Still, that Mario iOS game shows that Nintendo has some perception of what consumers want, or at least what they wanted six or seven years ago
  • Colour her green and say it's her Irish cousin Seamus O'Ran
Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart

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