Earth Defense Force 2017 Review

What would be some of the things that players have come to expect out of good games? Smooth animation and sharp visuals, perhaps? Solid character and plot development? How about gameplay depth and variety? Earth Defense Force 2017 manages to strike out on all accounts. However, if you look past all of the warts that the game has, you’re quickly going to find yourself having a hell of a good time.

The “story” in Earth Defense Force is that the Earth has been invaded by hostile aliens, called Ravagers, and it is your job as an EDF soldier to exterminate those pesky jerks. That’s pretty much all that is provided and all you really need to know. The gameplay is as cut-and-dry, where each of the 53 missions ends when every last acid-spewing ant, thread-shooting spider or giant robot meets their maker. There are also a couple of boss battles that provide some of the most intense, fun action the game has to offer. However, there is absolutely no variety to the action outside of four vehicles you can use, and they all control so horribly that you’re better off staying on foot when defending the Earth. Basically, you will be running around holding down the right trigger throughout the roughly 10 hour campaign. You’d think that when the entire gameplay revolves around how long your finger can stay on the trigger without cramping, you would quickly get tired of it. Yet, for some reason, there is just something so engrossing and empowering about having the ability to mow down throngs of giant bugs! You cannot help but to feel like a total badass while playing this game. Despite pouring more than 20 hours into the game, I still want to beat the final three difficulty levels.

Speaking of difficulty levels, Earth Defense Force has five of them: Easy, Normal, Hard, Hardest and Inferno. Difficulty is handled a bit differently in EDF than in other games. In a game like Gears of War or Call of Duty, Insane or Veteran difficulty is definitely much harder than their lower difficulty setting counterparts, yet they are manageable because of their checkpoint systems and the fact that weapons are generally the same from beginning to end. In Earth Defense Force, there are no checkpoints in the missions—only success or failure. In addition, when you first start playing you begin with only a handful of weak weapons and a small amount of hit points. As you play missions, the enemies you kill will drop new and improved weapons, as well as extra hit points, which then allow you to start tackling the higher difficulties. It is a pretty cool progression system that is extremely rewarding for those who wish to go on multiple play-throughs.

Earth Defense Force also has two different multiplayer components—co-op and battle mode. Regrettably, the battle mode isn’t a whole lot of fun, and the co-op play is offline only. While it is definitely nice that there is a cooperative component to the game, going online with your buddy and blasting bugs would have been an incredible addition to EDF.

Then again, next-generation visuals probably would be an incredible addition as well. While things look generally crisp on a HD-set, there is an overall lack of polish throughout the game that detracts from the presentation. For starters, the frame-rate in EDF can get downright atrocious when the action picks up. Sure, there are hundreds of enemies on screen sometimes, but with buildings, environments and enemies that lack much detail or graphical flare, you have to question why the frame-rate gets as bad as it does. Another reason the presentation isn’t up to snuff is a total lack of weight to anything in the game. When shooting down UFOs, they literally sink into the ground, instead of slamming to the earth and having various chunks of pavement, grass, mud, and street signs going everywhere. Similarly, mammoth skyscrapers will descend into the ground after one rocket or missile shot.

Animations are more of a mixed bag, ranging from great to horrendous. On the good side, when squaring off against the massive robots in the game, shooting them in the chest makes them (and as an extension, their arms) flail around. In addition to looking pretty damn cool, it also effects where they are shooting because their weapons are attached to their arms. Outside of that, though, the animations are complete garbage. Case in point: When running, it looks like your character does not have a functioning hip. Next, when you kill a bug, they just tense up and then fall over. Lame.

On the audio side, EDF isn’t much to write home about either. There is little differentiation between the various assault rifles, rockets, missiles, and so on—they all sound basically the same. In addition, there is only one track looping throughout all of the missions, so it is inevitable that it will eventually grind on your nerves. However, there is one bright spot in the audio offering—the voice acting. The dialogue and delivery is so corny and so horrible, but that was the intent. (Damn you mothership! Did we wake you?) Instead of being a detraction to the game, it adds to the charm of all the little imperfections that the game has.

Despite it being a failure in almost every sense of the word, Earth Defense Force succeeds because of the strength of its setting and enemies—killing bugs in the near future is simply too cool. If you are looking for a game that isn’t too deep, high on fun and aren’t a stickler on graphics, there are worst ways to spend ~£30 and 10 hours of your life.

Originally Written By: Art Green

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