Remember those old “horror” movies about giant insects or bunnies attacking humanity? Well, that’s the basic premise behind Earth Defense Force 2017. Aliens have invaded Earth and you are part of its last hope an elite military unit known as, wait for it…the Earth Defense Force. You are placed in charge of ridding Earth of these outer space invaders. These aliens take the form of giant ants, spiders, space ships and gigantic robots. Need a gun? You will be armed with anything and everything from sniper rifles, to shotguns, to grenade launchers and much more in between. You’re provided with nearly everything you need to fend off these attackers, the only thing you need is the courage and the strength to do so. This is a surprising game that you may have never heard of, but one that you may want to have a look into.
Right off the bat, you’ll be impressed with the graphics. The city you roam around is big and while most of the buildings may look alike you’ll take pleasure in knowing that you can blast them all to rubble to make getting through the city easier. Oh sure, there are glitches and hang ups where the camera puts itself into the most awkward position, but blowing stuff up is too fun to be bothered by it. My main issue with the graphics is that they shortchanged themselves by allowing for so few types of enemies to be on the screen at once. What I mean is that you may be seeing dozens of spiders hopping around, but you won’t see much of anything else. Granted if they just let everything loose at once your game would end much sooner because they just outnumber you like a thousand to one, not to mention the taxing the CPU would take from trying to push all that data at once. And yet, you’ll be impressed by what the developers are able to accomplish. Dozens of aircraft and even more insects at once will populate the city ready to find you and bring an end to your resistance, but you are undaunted and will fight back because of your faith in mankind.
Maybe Earth Defense Force 2017 doesn’t pack the audio love that the visuals got, but the sound is okay enough. The majority of the audio comes from members of your team saying things like, “they just killed the Captain” or other such random fare and mysterious voices giving reports on conditions in other parts of the world. Aside from that the music is forgettable and could have definitely benefited from additional development.
What makes Earth Defense Force 2017 a fun game is the pure arcade style action. Your main goal is to blow up all the insects, don’t worry about accidentally blowing up the occasional building or thirty, don’t worry about civilian casualties, simply put just blow up the bad guys. Those other things may be fine for other games, but sometimes they tend to take away from some of the fun when all you want to do is mindlessly blow stuff up. This is your chance. At the beginning of each level (over 50 total with several difficulties) you choose two weapons to help you on your mission. During the course of each mission you may earn new weapons, the more difficult the level the better the weapon possibility. You will also need armor to progress through the game. So, this is one game where you will need to begin at the lower difficulty setting and progress to the most challenging. With over 100 weapons to choose from and the added challenge from each successive difficulty you’ll be playing Earth Defense Force 2017 for quite some time. As the game gets harder the enemies get faster and become more difficult to kill. They descend upon you quickly, so if you’re not equipped with the most powerful weapons in the game you’re not going to survive very long. Like I said, it’s fun, mindless fun. There’s little to no skill involved, aim and shoot. They’ve kept buttons to a minimum, except when it comes to navigating one of the games few vehicles. The vehicles are challenging to maneuver, even though they pack some heavy artillery, but to me seemed to be more cumbersome than just running around like normal. If you can’t tell the best part of the game is in the game play, there’s just something satisfying about blowing up giant bugs.
All those great aspects aside the lack of an online cooperative mode is a big hole. Offline two-player mode on the same console is a nice touch, and probably a dying trend, but it’s just not the same. As I mentioned earlier though, the nice thing that Earth Defense Force does is provide with plenty of replay. Multiple difficulties with over 100 weapons to collect mean for a rather lengthy game especially if you want all those achievement points or you’re one of those gamers who must complete everything possible in their game.
The downside is that the game can get extremely repetitive. Killing bugs over and over again doesn’t make for long playing sessions, about an hour or two at a time, and you’ll probably call it a day with Earth Defense Force. Some of the weapons aren’t even worth bothering with and the lack of some sort of weapon trial makes picking the new weapons a long chore because of load times. Oh, and speaking of the load times they’re somewhat lengthy. Sure, some of the outdoor levels are huge, but loading a level to show a brief cutscene followed by another load screen? Blech! If only the Xbox 360 could somehow utilize that Hard Drive for good. Hey, don’t get me wrong, Earth Defense Force 2017 is a fun game that for me came out of nowhere, so it was a total surprise that it was this good to begin with.
Earth Defense Force 2017 is at the very least worth a rental. It’s a game that you could sit down and just shoot stuff without worrying about being stealthy or civilian casualties. Good fun if you’re looking for something kind of along the lines of Dynasty Warriors with guns. It’s you against an army of aliens just itching to kill you, how could that not make for a good game? Plus, if it’s any consolation it doesn’t carry that ugly high price tag that other Xbox 360 games do.
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