STAFF REVIEW of Earth Defense Force 2017 (Xbox 360)

Friday, March 30, 2007.
by Adam Rivard

Earth Defense Force 2017 Box art Remember those old Japanese sci-fi monster movies from the 1960s? The ones that were so bad and corny you couldn?t help but love them? Well thanks to D3 Publisher and Sandlot, you are now able to play in one of those classic flicks.

Earth Defense Force 2017 is a sequel to the PS2?s Chikyuu Boueigun ?Simple? budget series of games released in 2003. These were fun old-school run-and-gun shooters that had you blasting giant insects and robots from outer space. EDF brings the series to the next gen with improved graphics and more frantic action, but the heart of the gameplay remains the same: blowing the tar out of insanely big alien bugs.

The story is pretty simple: you are a member of the EDF and must stop an alien invasion. Okay, so it?s not exactly original but with enemies that include swarms of giant ants, massive leaping tarantulas, lumbering dinosaur-like creatures, deadly spaceships and towering killer robots, chances are you probably won?t have time to ponder the literary merits of the story. The action looks frantically crazy, much like a Japanese version of Serious Sam, as your pathetically tiny character dodges and rolls between the legs of giant insects that literally fill the screen dozens at a time. Yikes.

Your character can carry two weapons and a handful of grenades at a time but you will eventually be able to select from hundreds of weapons split between a few different categories; with special upgrades, the weapon variations number must topple 400. New weapons are unlocked as you progress while upgrades (like faster reloads and increased power and range) and armor/health powerups are dropped by dead enemies. Weapons include your standard shooter fare like assault rifles and rocket launchers, along with cool ones like a water gun that squirts acid.

You are also able to pilot a wide variety of vehicles ranging from a Star Wars-like speeder bike to tanks, helicopters and even a huge mech. You don?t have to take on the bugs all by yourself, since helpful AI teammates are fighting by your side. Better yet, you are able to play co-operatively with a buddy via split-screen, but sadly, there is no online co-op or adversarial modes. Even so, with 53 levels, five difficulty modes (easy, normal, hard, hardest and inferno) and environments that are almost completely destructible, you should get more than your fill of frantic action.

As you might expect, the game looks like a classic Japanese sci-fi movie with monster, robot, spaceship and even uniform designs straight out of the campy 1960s. The graphics are decent but nothing special so don?t expect any jaw-dropping eye candy here. To be fair, though, the emphasis is on providing crazy action jam-packed with enemies, not dazzling you with pretty details. The models and environments when judged individually are slightly weak, and are arguably the games biggest weakness. However, EDF 2017 prescribes to the Dead Rising school of thought. Basically, it eschews the need for ultra high-res models, opting instead to just put hundreds of objects on screen at once. Like I said this isn?t to say that the graphics are bad, though, by any means. The graphics engine is capable of putting out some pretty nice particle effects and explosions look good as well. Where the graphics lack though, EDF?s wonderful art style picks up the slack. Everything simply looks wonderfully alien. The style does a great job of making everything seem like it came from across the universe. Having so many well rendered things on screen at once has its price though the framerates can become a problem when it all hits the fan.

There are few games on the market that can match up to Earth Defence Force 2017 in terms of sheer ?cool factor.? If you like games (and I?m guessing you do, because you?re reading about them) then odds are you?re going to love everything about this game.
Like I said, EDF 2017 is all about completely insane over the top action. It?s like a really awesome dream that you never want to wake up from. Everything in the game contributes to the fact that this is the game 1950?s/1960?s science fiction geeks wet their pants over.

It amazes me that this game hasn?t received more coverage from the gaming press. I understand that it doesn?t necessarily fit into the mold of the average game on the market. There are no mages, spiky hair, or Nazi?s here, but there are guns and explosions?lots of explosions. It does possess a number of elements that are very common in games, like robots, and the destruction of said robots. But the setting and the scale of EDF set it apart from anything else on the market. Enemies in this game have to be seen to be believed as they tower above everything else in videogames, save for a couple of the colossi from Shadow of the Colossus.

All the technical jargon is a mere formality in this case as discounting EDF based on its technical shortcomings is to miss the point entirely. No one will play this game based on the fact that it has well mapped surfaces and no one will pass it up because it has a slow frame rate. Besides, when you factor in the enormously fun possibilities of cooperative play as well as EDF's discounted price there's few reasons I can think of to not pick this one up. Like I said earlier, if you enjoy blowing stuff up on a scale larger than you?ve ever imagined. Earth Defence Force 2017 has what you?re looking for. If this game had a bigger budget it would be one of the best sellers for the 360 for sure.

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.4 / 10
Visuals: 5.8 / 10
Sound: 6.8 / 10


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