Game: "Earth Defense Force 2017"
System: Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Published by: Other

Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Posted: 6/1/2008

Review: When earth is in trouble, who do you call? That’s right, the Japanese. They’ve been fighting Godzilla for years, so it makes sense that they would be on the forefront of combating giant monsters, giant aliens, giant robots, and so forth.

And Earth Defense Force 2017 is just that. You play a captain in the titular group, and your goal is to fight off waves of horrific space monsters and survive through the kind of pyrrhic military victories normally seen in movies like Starship Troopers. As you fight, your enemies will get tougher, but so will you, provided you can grab enough powerups off the corpses of your monstrous foes.

Sure, the odds are stacked against you a bit, but you’ve got a few tricks up your sleeve. For starters, you can run backwards really fast. Also, you carry an unending supply of ammunition for just about every weapon you can lay your hands on. Plus, your mere presence can motivate other EDF members to remain steadfast, even in the face of being stepped on by an 80-story walking battle fortress.

That’s EDF 2017 in a nutshell. And that’s what’s so great about it: it’s a simple formula, and it just works. All the monsters you face are suitably epic in scale, and move with the kind of lumbering slowness you’d expect of something so massive. And with an equally massive draw distance, you’ll have plenty of time to admire that line of giant robots slowly advancing on your position from miles out in the ocean.

And the destruction, oh the destruction. You’ll be filling the sky with rockets, missiles and automatic gunfire, while your enemies answer back with lasers, acid sprays, and machine guns blasts of their own. And if you’re having trouble seeing your enemies through the forest of tall buildings, well then by all means, whip out your rocket launcher and do a little urban renewal. Every building, every structure in the game can be leveled, either by monsters on a rampage, or by your own poor aim. And nobody cares either way!

As cool as the wanton demolition might be, however, I wish the developers had done more with buildings as far as strategic positions go. A few of the building models have external stairwells that you can climb in order to get a clear view of the battlefield, and a few others have roofs low enough that you can jump directly onto them, but it would be nice if you can get directly to the top of any building, rather than just a select few. Robot Alchemic Drive, another great game in the giant monster/robot genre, solved this by allowing the player to “use” the entrance to a building in order to immediately teleport to the roof, and EDF could use a similar functionality.

As mentioned, powerups such as weapon and health upgrades are acquired from slain enemies. When killed, some enemies will drop a 2D representation of a power which remain on the map until you collect it, or the mission ends. Unfortunately, this often amounts to you killing off all but one of the enemy, and then running around the map collecting all the powerups you missed because they were covered by giant ants and such. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they give you an opportunity, but I wish there was an easier way to collect these, like some kind of powerup magnet that would draw them to you once you got close enough.

Or hey, a quick vehicle would be great, too. The game boasts four different vehicles: a tank, a helicopter, an airbike, and a power loader-esque robot suit. Each one can help you get the upper hand on the advancing hordes, but each one is also surprisingly easy to destroy. Couple this with their somewhat sluggish control schemes, and add their surprisingly infrequent appearances in the game (the EDF apparently think that interstellar titans are best combated with infantry) and you’ve got a very disappointing lineup of military vehicles. To some extent, I can understand wanting to make some of these vehicles handle like their real life equivalents, but why start with the realism there? You’ve got the main character razing entire cities with his infinite rocket launcher, all the while running backwards and doing somersaults while he reloads, and you want the vehicles to work like they do in real life? Come on!

But I could look past all that. I just run past vehicles and say to hell with getting the high ground, just let me blast the shit out of these horrible monsters. What I find unforgivable about this game, however, is the lack of multiplayer. Sure, you can grab a friend and go the old split screen route, but forget about using Xbox Live. Are you kidding me? This game practically begs for online multiplayer. It screams for an 8-man squad of anxious EDF members to sign in and start killing everything within eyeshot, and the best they can do is buddy up and share a single screen. That, my friends, is just plain weak.

Oh well. Something to look forward to in a sequel, I guess. Even as a single player experience, though, this game is fantastic. It couples intense shootouts with on-the-move strategizing in a very unique way. Now if they would just polish the vehicle controls, bring the powerups to you, and for christ’s sake, include some goddamn multiplayer, they’d have a truly awesome old-school shooter on their hands.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeHalf
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Scruffy drunken Brit
Jun 2nd, 2008, 05:16 AM
The best way I can think to describe the greatness of this game is the rap they did on Consolevania, but I can't fucking remember any of it except that it was basically "Earth Defence Force gets lots of bad rep from reviewers who are virgins" or something to that effect.

Jun 2nd, 2008, 05:33 AM
Despite its flaws the game is ace and a blast to play through.
drifting in the void
Jun 2nd, 2008, 05:54 AM
I love this game. It´s so...good actually, it´s as simple as can be and more primitive than an ape with a tie, but I really like it, great fun.

"The giant bugs are moving around and injuring civilians" or something like that...great briefing.
Funky Dynamite
Jun 2nd, 2008, 12:16 PM
Yeah, the bulk of your radio transmissions amounted to "there's too many of them! *gunfire* AUUUUGH!!!"
Jun 2nd, 2008, 07:45 PM
Attention Sandlot, please read this.
Jun 2nd, 2008, 10:00 PM
You know, this is actually the third in a series of games. But it is the first to be released in America. Europe got the second one, so if you feel like importing Global Defense Force, go ahead.