The original Earth Defense Force 2017 was released as a budget title on the Xbox 360 way back in 2007. An unusual game, it managed to be both utterly brilliant yet baffling terrible all in one go. Now it’s hit the PlayStation Vita with a few additions and a hefty new price tag.
The game is a third person shooter set in the cheesiest B-Movie you could possibly imagine. Alien spacecrafts are picked up approaching Earth, and the Earth Defense Force (EDF) is set up just in case these visitors are hostile. Guess what? They totally are. However, instead of little green men beaming down with laser pistols, the aliens drop huge bugs all over various cities, which then proceed to eat their way across the landscape.
It’s time for the EDF to get out there and kick some ass! EDF! EDF!
Ah! Giant spider!
As well as being a shooter, the game also has an element of loot collecting. Before the start of a mission you can choose a weapons loadout, and although initially the options are extremely sparse, that soon changes. Enemies will drop various pick-ups such as health and armour, and occasionally you will see a ‘weapons’ box sitting there, tantalisingly. Usually it’s in an area swarming with enemies, but if you collect it you’ll be rewarded with a weapon which can be selected in the loadout menu.
The only downside is the weapon type is random, so you are potentially putting yourself in harm’s way for something you already have. Alternatively you could end up with a massive rocket launcher that fires several rockets at once and obliterates all but the biggest bad guy. Indeed, those with a penchant for weaponry are well catered for in EDF 2017; there are weapons galore, all broken down into several categories.
There’s also a lot of content on offer, albeit fairly similar content. Completing the 60 missions will unlock the ‘Pale Wing’ character, who can use a jetpack instead of the start character’s rather puny jump. The game also has four player online multiplayer, which is split into cooperative and competitive. The co-op is a hell of a lot of fun, especially with voice chat, and actually adds a bit of tactical thinking to the game as you decide how best to take down a 100ft high walking robot fortress.
There are a couple of downsides with this, though. The first one is the servers appear to be rather empty. If you do manage to find a game, it also feels a bit laggy sometimes. For those of you with friends (show offs), there is local multiplayer too, although I couldn’t test that out.
Now, this all sounds great but the game is littered with bugs (HA!). Whilst nowhere near as bad as the original, EDF 2017 on Vita has its fair share of slowdown when things get hectic. It also suffers from a large number of graphical glitches and dodgy physics, although some of these can be hilarious. My personal favourite was when the giant robots were first introduced, and instead of stomping menacingly through the city, one particularly glitchy fellow started to spasm across the screen in an almost perfect copy of the Gangham Style dance. Heeeey, sexy robot!
How can you not see this enemy?!
Some of the controls aren’t exactly refined, either. Your character moves with all the urgency of a sloth, and just feels slow in everything he does. Occasionally you get access to a vehicle, but again they feel so slow and handle so sluggishly that using them is a chore and going by foot seems to be the sensible option. The helicopter is particularly bad. EDF 2017 certainly feels like a budget title.
That brings me on to my biggest complaint. I picked this game up back in 2007 for £17.99 brand new, and for that type of price it was easy to overlook a number of the issues and just enjoy the mindless entertainment. Six years later the Vita release has been put on sale for £35. Some of you might not agree, but the game doesn’t feel like a full price product.
- Entertaining, bite sized missions.
- Loads of weapons.
- Online co-op is great.
- The price.
- So many issues haven’t been ironed out.
Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable is certainly a tough game to score. On one hand the game has a load of technical problems, and is severely lacking in polish. However, it’s almost impossible not to enjoy the game when you’re knee-deep in dead bugs, taking on an alien spacecraft with a rocket launcher and an assault rifle.
In the end it’s the price that is the killer. If this was £15 I’d happily recommend it to all Vita owners looking for a shooting fix. In my opinion £35 is too much, and double the price I paid six years ago.