Tag Archive: metroid


I missed the boat when the original Metroid released on the NES—mostly because I was still wearing diapers. Near the height of my childhood gaming in 1994, when I only got games on Christmas or my birthday, I had a choice between Super Metroid and other SNES games; I admittedly passed on Samus Aran. It wouldn’t be until I was older and got a summer job, and therefore had some disposable income, that I would take a chance on Metroid in the form of Metroid Prime. It was there where I fell in love with the series. I’ve since gone back and played the classics, but the Prime trilogy continues to have a special place in my heart as my entryway to the franchise. So, when the Big N announced that they were releasing a Metroid Prime game for the 3DS that would follow the Federation and not everyone’s favorite gold-armored heroine, I (like many) was concerned—and Metroid Prime: Federation Force has gone on to prove those concerns were well founded.

Players take on the role of a generic Marine in the Galactic Federation, the governing body and beacon of order in the Metroid universe which often hires Samus Aran when things get dicey. Looking to become more self-sufficient and rely less on bounty hunters, the Federation has built new mechanized units that Marines can use on the frontlines of the Federation’s militaristic endeavors. One of these new fronts happens to be in the Bermuda system. What starts as standard mech suit training soon becomes a full-blown combat scenario against the Space Pirates, along with a search for answers as to why the pirates have established themselves around Bermuda’s three planets—Bion, Excelcion, and Talvania.

From the second I started playing Federation Force I knew I was in for a rough time. Quite simply, this is one of the worst-looking games I’ve seen on the 3DS. The first-person perspective does no favors in trying to hide the three dull, lifeless planets you have to explore: Bion, a desert world; Excelcion, an ice planet; and Talvania, your industrialized world. Basically, that means you’re constantly surrounded by different shades of orange/brown, blue/white, and gray/poison gas green, with little respite whenever you pick from the game’s nearly two-dozen missions in those settings.

SpacePirate1160

The chibi-like big head/little body design of the Federation’s forces—including Samus during her cameos—was also off-putting. It may be more of a personal preference against this art style, but it felt cheap and cartoony for a branch of the franchise whose character and world design used to be one of its strengths. I understand the 3DS isn’t a graphical powerhouse, but it should’ve been able to do more than this.

Beauty can be more than skin deep, however, and so I was hoping the game might be salvaged via its gameplay. Unfortunately, I quickly saw that Federation Force is ugly to its core. Although it utilizes the first-person perspective of the Prime trilogy, Federation Force does not play nearly as smooth as those games. The mechs are slow and plodding, and it’s almost impossible to avoid attacks from more difficult enemies, with many battles becoming a race to see how fast you can whittle down the enemy’s lifebar. The use of the 3DS’s gimmicky gyroscope for more precision aiming also quickly becomes tiresome when trying to line up a killing shot against armored foes with few visible weak points.

The worst of it all may be the balancing of the game, thanks in part to one of Federation Force’s primary selling points being its four-player co-op feature—which somewhat spits in the face of Metroid’s traditional single-player experience with Samus against the world, alone and often stranded in a hostile environment. Each stage you play on is balanced for a four-player fighting force. This means that even if you wanted to play alone, the game punishes you for it, and I am adamant that most players will be unable to finish later stages by themselves. If you are racing against the clock to defeat a dozen or so Space Pirates, but the timer and enemy count remains the same in single player versus four-player co-op, you can see where the better odds are. The Space Pirates may still be pushovers, but there’s only so much any of us can do against time.

Excelcion1160

Oh, and good luck trying to assemble a squad to take on those later missions. Part of the reason why my review took so long to get done is it took me forever to find people just to play the game with—even after launch. If I created an invite myself, fewer and fewer players were available for the later missions; if I went to join someone else’s team, many were still middling around during the first half of the game. Throw in the obvious issues that come from not being able to communicate via the 3DS except for a handful of preset phrases on the d-pad (“Hello!” “Help!” “Hurry Up” etc.), and progressing through Federation Force was nothing short of being a chore—especially when you stumble upon someone who cared more about lone wolfing it than working as a team. You can obviously get around some of this by having four friends join together locally, but I couldn’t find three other people interested in picking up their own copies of the game.

It also needs to be said that there is the 3v3 multiplayer mode, Blast Ball, which can be played via download play on the 3DS from just one copy of the game. Because of many of the aforementioned reasons, like the slow movement of the mechs and the difficulty in precision aiming, you’re better off just going back to Rocket League instead of dealing with this rather obvious knock-off. I made the EGM crew try it out here in the office, and I think everyone is still mad at me.

The sad thing is, despite all my complaining, in those rare instances where everything seemed to come together—I found people to play a mission I wanted to play and we were all driven to finish the level as a team and move the story forward—Metroid Prime Federation Force actually worked. The story wasn’t spectacular, but it fit well into the Metroid universe. When four players worked together, there was a challenge, but it felt great to come together as a unit and accomplish the goals laid before you. Even the game’s idea of a more arcade-like experience—with each mission being short and sweet (rare was the mission that took more than 15-20 minutes), but there being a lot of them—could’ve lent itself nicely to experiencing the game in bite-sized bits. The shooting felt satisfying, at least until I ran out of the sparse special ammo or was forced to really take aim at something. Missions actually provided some interesting gameplay variety ranging from exploration to escort, from puzzle solving to shootouts against bosses, and the ability to customize the precise loadout of special weapons and buffs pre-mission meant a well-coordinated team could cover each other’s backs extremely well. The problem was simply that these stars aligned far too infrequently for the experience to ever be truly enjoyable.

Trooper1160

And, that’s Metroid Prime: Federation Force in a nutshell. There was a core idea here that wasn’t actually bad, just horribly executed. The lack of balance between one and four players, the ugly worlds and character design, the gimmicky controls, the plodding movement, Blast Ball—they all muddled what could’ve been a decent adventure that freshened up the Metroid Prime storyline and paved the way for a future, more realized entry. As is, though, Federation Force is a black eye on the series that stands alongside Other M as another failed experiment.

Publisher: Nintendo • Developer: Next Level Games • ESRB Date: T – Teen • Release Date: 08.19.16
3.5
There is a core idea here that could’ve worked, but Metroid Prime: Federation Force is nothing short of a disaster due to horribly thought out implementation and shoddy execution.
The Good Decent mission variety, and if playing with friends locally, four-player co-op has its fun moments.
The Bad Game is completely unbalanced for solo play. Movement is plodding to the point of almost being painful. Trying to communicate during online play is near impossible.
The Ugly Is the future of multiplayer just everyone kicking a giant ball around?
Metroid Prime: Federation Force is a Nintendo 3DS exclusive. Review code was provided by Nintendo for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.
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Originally Published: November 2, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, fellow CGRer Kevin and I talk about the awesome Metroid cookies his wife made.

Originally Published: December 31, 2009, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com) and Lundberg.me

As the year comes to an end, I think this is an opportune time to take a look forward at the year ahead in gaming. Last year we did this and the nine games we previewed were either awesome as expected (Ghostbusters, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Madworld, and Brutal Legend), pretty good (Punch-Out and Resident Evil 5), or delayed until early 2010 (Bioshock 2, God of War 3, and Dante’s Inferno). The three games delayed until early 2010 are basically shoe-ins for this year’s list as well because all the delays have done is make us salivate more as details leaked out to us. So with no further ado, here are the top 10 games to look forward to in 2010.

1. Bioshock 2: I said it last year and I’ll say it again this year: I will go screaming through the halls here at ESPN the day this comes out from sheer, overwhelming joy. With a lot more revealed in terms of the plot and gameplay, this easily tops my list as my most anticipated game as you return to Rapture and assume the role of a Big Daddy 10 years after the events of the first Bioshock. Along with this new twist from the first Bioshock, there is also a confirmed multiplayer mode and the ability to use your Big Daddy suit to explore the ocean immediately surrounding Rapture, which should allow for all kinds of new and creative ways to explore the once great cultural haven beneath the waves. Barring any last minute setbacks, expect Bioshock 2 to hit store shelves February 9, 2010, for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.

2. God of War 3: There are few trilogies in video games that are more celebrated than God of War and this is before the third one has even hit store shelves. Inspired by many classic stories from Greek mythology, you play as Kratos once more as you attempt to work out your anger issues with the gods for the last time. I had a chance to play an advanced demo of this (which I will post a special PS3 Q1 Preview video next week where I got to talk with some of the developers of God of War 3) and you will flip just like Kratos’ point of view seamlessly does in several epic boss battles as you should expect to start wrapping up this classic trilogy on your PS3 towards the end of March 2010.

3. Dante’s Inferno: Many are calling this a God of War rip-off, but I’m a firm believer that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and this might be even better because it isn’t limited to just the PS3. Inspired by the part of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy of the same name, if Kratos has anger management issues, Dante is the ultimate obsessive, smothering boyfriend as he is willing to fight through the nine layers of hell to save his girlfriend’s soul while having a tapestry depicting the holy cross stitched to his chest. Just like God of War, Dante’s Inferno mixes classic plot with tremendous, bloody action (and a little bit of nudity) and amazing, original monsters based on this classic work of literature to get any action/adventure fan’s blood pumping. Just like Bioshock 2, Dante’s Inferno hits store shelves on February 9, 2010, for Xbox 360, PS3, and PSP.

4. No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle: Travis Touchdown returns with his beam katana (it’s a lightsaber, but that whole copyright thing can be such a pain sometimes) as he has gotten lazy and let his number one world assassin ranking drop all the way down to 51 (possibly in honor of game creator Suda 51?). When things get personal though, Travis once again hones his wrestling inspired moves and attempts to move back up the ladder to the number one spot with even more crazy, over the top boss battles that are even better than those from the first game. The sandbox system is gone to help save on time while you hunt down your quarry and travel from location to location by just going to a map menu now and since that was one of the major complaints from the first game, it looks like No More Heroes 2 could be another sleeper hit from the deranged mind of Suda 51 and his Grasshopper Studios. No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is a Wii exclusive and should hit store shelves January 28, 2010.

5. Dead Rising 2: The first Dead Rising broke new ground in zombie bashing by having an unheard of (for the time) amount of NPCs on screen at one time with no lag. And it was set in a mall allowing you to have a variety of weapons from food court table umbrellas to golf clubs to nerf guns. Dead Rising 2 takes several of the great elements from the first game (regular guy dropped into a zombie invasion) and puts a whole new twist on it that has me chomping at the bit as I count the days until this hits store shelves. Dead Rising 2 assumes you failed to completely contain the zombie virus at Willamette from the first Dead Rising and now there are zombie outbreaks all over the country. These zombie zones have been cordoned off by the government, but with times being tough, leave it to reality TV to step in to offer the masses a chance to risk life and limb for amazing prizes. “Terror is Reality” is one of these reality TV shows that asks people to help control the zombie population in new and inventive ways for the chance at huge piles of cash. Of course, you’re being dropped into these living nightmares with nothing but the clothes on your back, but it wouldn’t be a zombie game if you were given a gatling gun from the get go. Add in what could be the best online multiplayer of the year as Dead Rising 2 pits you against three other players in an American Gladiators meets Resident Evil scenario and sends you all on your merry competitive ways. Zombie bashing will never be the same again on your Xbox 360, PS3, and PC come the end of Q1.

6. DC Universe Online: It is hyped as what could be the greatest MMORPG of all-time as it allows you to interact with the best of the best of the DC Comics Universe with your own original character and with a member of current comic book royalty in Jim Lee serving as the Executive Creative Director, you know you are in good hands. Unfortunately, it has been delayed countless times and is a game on life support to say the least. DCU Online was supposed to come out last summer, but now we are still waiting to rub elbows with the Dark Knight and Man of Steel and take down the likes of Lex Luthor, Mr. Freeze, the Joker, Bizarro, and many, many, many more as a loose Q3 2010 date has been set for this possible PS3 and PC powerhouse. If DCU Online doesn’t come out this year, I think the game will be completely scrapped because it has been in production for far too long for us to wait much longer for it.

7. Mafia 2: Another strong title on the horizon from the folks at 2K (why do they even bother with sports anymore when their shooters and action/adventure games are so awesome?) is Mafia 2. Set in a fictitious mob family in the late 1940s-early 1950s, Mafia 2 combines a GTA-style sandbox experience with a Hollywood-inspired cinematic driven plot as you play as Vito, a small-time hood trying his best to get his piece of the American dream in some less than savory ways. Add in some awesome action sequences and Martin Scorsese couldn’t have done a better job with this. Mafia 2 looks to be the strongest release due out in Q2 when it lands on store shelves May 3, 2010, for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.

8. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Every major attempt to bring the fabled history of Castlevania into the 3D realm has fallen flat on its face and the only thing keeping the series alive has been a successful run with the classic side scrolling action on handheld systems. Things may change come the next holiday season. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow has you cast as the mysterious figure Gabriel as you fight through a massive world in the third person. Mix in some puzzles and some holy (or unholy) artifacts to help power up Gabriel and you have the base for a nice action/adventure game. There aren’t a lot of details out on this one yet in terms of how Gabriel fits in with the Belmont clan or if Dracula is even the main force of darkness here (although I’m sure he is because it wouldn’t be Castlevania if he wasn’t), but from what I’ve seen so far, this could be the best chance to FINALLY bring Castlevania successfully onto modern consoles especially with Hideo Kojima (of the Metal Gear Series) consulting on this project, Patrick Stewart serving as the narrator, and some God of War and Assassin’s Creed style gameplay mechanics shown in the early trailer. Expect Castlevania: Lords of Shadow to emerge from the darkness next holiday season for Xbox 360 and PS3.

9. Super Mario Galaxy 2: Everyone loves Mario, plain and simple. Another game expected to be released in time for the next holiday season, Super Mario Galaxy 2 will be the first direct sequel to another Mario game in a decade (since Super Mario World 2 back for the SNES). Add in that you are definitely going to be riding Yoshi around and I’m sure you’ll see the return of some other classic powers and this is another sure fire hit for Nintendo. Plus, don’t forget that you are sure to see a lot of classic Mario themes, enemies, and puzzles mixed in with the tremendous planetary exploration aspect introduced in the first Super Mario Galaxy and this will be another platforming gem from Nintendo. Super Mario Galaxy 2 should be out in time for next holiday season and is, of course, a Nintendo exclusive.

10. Metroid: Other M: Nintendo has the strongest first party franchises out there and another one confirmed for next holiday season is Metroid: Other M. A lot like seeing Hideo Kojima’s production studio helping out with Castlevania, Team Ninja, best known for the Ninja Gaiden games, has stepped up to help give a bit of an anime style and storytelling flair to this newest Samus Aran adventure. Mixing some classic side-scrolling action and some 3D arena battles as you progress through the game and interchange between the two seamlessly should keep you on your toes and keep you from getting bored. Add in that at least Ridley has been confirmed as one of the boss battles and it should be interesting to see what Team Ninja can do with this beloved Nintendo franchise. Metroid: Other M is another Wii exclusive and should be out in time for the next holiday season.

So there is my top 10 for the coming year and it is one heck of a list. On top of these games, there are also lots of other games that I just could not take the time to go into right now, plus I did not feel they were worthy of the top 10. MAG, Heavy Rain, Bayonetta, Darksiders, Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands (adding a 4th chapter to one of the better trilogies for the last generation of consoles was not necessary and is thus a major reason that Prince of Persia stayed off the list), Mass Effect 2, Just Cause 2, Epic Mickey, Red Steel 2, Mega Man 10, Gran Turismo 5, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and an unnamed Legend of Zelda title for the Wii (not enough info for me to be confident that this will make it in time for a 2010 release, but Nintendo is the best at keeping secrets) all deserve honorable mentions and should be awesome games in 2010, but these are my top 10 and I stand by them. It is going to be another great year for games and I cannot wait. Until then, have a great New Year and my resolution is that I will be sure to try my best to keep you informed over the course of 2010 just as I did over the course of 2009.

-Ray Carsillo

Lurking in the Shadows

Originally Published: August 18, 2009, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com) and Examiner.com

I want to continue our exploration of games being featured on Xbox Live’s Summer of Arcade and in doing so we look at an exclusive downloadable game.

Shadow Complex is a product from Chair Entertainment and Epic Games (the same team that produced Gears of War) and the best way to describe the gameplay is a mix between Bionic Commando and Metroid.

A 2.5D side-scrolling shooter, Shadow Complex is the story of how a couple of hikers in the woods stumble upon an anarchist plot to overthrow the U.S. government, starting with San Francisco. The hero of our story, Jason, must rescue his girlfriend from the clutches of this unknown organization after she is captured during their hike and, in the process, defend truth, justice, and the American way by taking down the entirety of the underground complex.

The story progresses extremely quickly, but this is understandable considering downloadable games are typically far shorter than disc-based games for the sake of hard drive space and download times. Unfortunately, it seems to only skim the top of a much larger plot and keeps you in the dark even after the game ends (maybe that’s why they call it Shadow Complex?). Of course, the end credits do reveal that the game is a compliment to an actual novel and that the game is set in the universe of Orson Scott Card’s Empire series. Nice to see Epic Games encouraging us to read more by making us go out and get a book to figure out the larger plot to their game. A maximum of 10 hours worth of gameplay if you go through the training mode and set it to the highest difficulty, if you just blow through the story mode and gather a decent amount of collectibles, you can get complete it all in 4-5 hours.

The gameplay is smooth for the most part, but the 2.5D aspect with enemies coming out of corridors that you yourself cannot enter makes it difficult to know who or what you’re aiming at most of the time. A variety of special weapons and upgrades, including a prototype suit of armor with a grappling hook and speed boost, make dispatching the enemies in new and creative ways a constant thrill, though. There are also several methods to solve each problem. If you can’t find the jump boost, you can make a bridge out of the foam shot. If you lack the grappling hook, you might be able to run up a curved wall with the speed boost. This non-linear play is a nice change considering how linear side-scollers traditionally are and this harks back to Bionic Commando and Metroid.

It is a pretty game for a side-scroller and the cut scenes are just as good as if it was a regular disc-loading game. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound nearly as good as it looks. A lack of overall music is a disappointment and the few times it comes in it actually shocks you out of the illusion of the game because it is so rare. Add in cheesy, over-the-top voice acting and you might as well just wear earmuffs while playing.

A few minor details bothered me in Shadow Complex, most notably the aiming dynamics, but in terms of story, action, and item collection it deserves to be in the same class as Bionic Commando and Metroid, two of the all-time great side-scrollers. If you’re looking for a cheap game to kill a few hours with some quality old-school gameplay, Shadow Complex is a great pick up as Xbox wraps up it’s summer arcade push.

Ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best.

Graphics: 8.0: Considering it is a downloadable game, the graphics are really good. During the game itself, the graphics are flawless and very pretty. I only take a couple of points off because the cut scenes, which Epic usually makes so beautiful, weren’t as smooth as I suspected in a few instances.

Audio: 4.0: The little bit of music the game offers jolts you out of the experience instead of enhancing it and the cheesy voice acting makes the listening experience a very poor one. Good use of SFX for the guns and explosions keeps this score out of the basement.

Plot/Plot Development: 7.0: Certain parts of the plot were a little too convenient and others were sloppy and left you guessing at plot points. The fact that you might need to read a novel to understand all the loose strands of plot keeps this from being a classic story. I would prefer a stand-alone tale over a compliment to another story.

Gameplay: 9.0: Solid action, combined with flawless, glitchless play that allows you several methods to solve problems in the game makes this a truly enjoyable experience. Four levels of difficulty and a pretty thorough training mode could provide up to 10 hours of gameplay, which is great for a downloadable game. The only downside to the game was trying to aim at enemies in the background where your character could not go.

Replay Value: 8.0: With four difficulty levels and hundreds of collectibles, there is plenty to bring you back to Shadow Complex as you try to find every nuance to the massive underground bunker.

Overall (not an average): 8.0: A good game made great considering it is downloadable software. I would love to see a fleshed out, more polished version of Shadow Complex with even more levels and collectibles and a less vague story. Until then, this is not an elite level game (its close), just a great value for your buck.

Shadow Complex is available for download exclusively on Xbox Live on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009, for 1200 Microsoft points ($15 American dollars).

-Ray Carsillo