On a serious note, if you are myrmecophobic and arachnophobic then you probably shouldn't play this game.
Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable is a $40 redux of the same game previously released on Xbox 360 nearly six years ago. This digital download version for Vita is published and developed by the same people as the six year old version. One of the benefits to having never played the Xbox 360 version is that I’m experiencing this game for the first time. And this is by far one of the buggiest games I’ve ever played. I mean that in both possible understandings of the term. I have yet to play a game with this many acid-spewing ants and web-slinging tarantulas the size of large houses attacking in creepy swarms AND this game has flaws. On a serious note, if you are myrmecophobic and arachnophobic then you probably shouldn’t play this game.
You play as a Captain working for the Earth Defense Force with the express interest in protecting Earth from aliens. A combination of the cutscenes, NPC voice overs, and mission descriptions scream B-movie. A hovering alien force suddenly launches a devastating assault on Earth and the EDF strikes back. Seemingly, hundreds of ants fill the screen, which later become giant leaping spiders and eventually robots with freakin laser beams. You’ll encounter epic boss battles against oversized bugs and enormous four-legged robots that dump more bugs into the level. Its because of the sheer number of enemies and the oversized bosses that I basic held onto the same two weapons throughout the game’s 60 levels, only swapping to the upgraded versions of the same two guns.
Shortly into the first few missions it became clear to me that all the issues I encountered in this game would never fly with today’s video game releases. This is what makes Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable so entertaining. These issues had to be intentional. If you have a problem with enemies clipping buildings, bouncing like weightless bricks, or quirky animations then there are three more reasons for you not to play this game. Buildings begin to collapse and all of a sudden disappear, the large UFOs come crashing down only to pass right through the ground as if it were falling into the sea, and vehicles drive right through enemies and level objects with absolutely no collision. But this was all okay and in fact, added to the fun rather than hindered it.
Traversing some of the larger levels isn’t all that fun, so vehicles help to break up the monotony. One of my favorite things to do with a helicopter is to fly as high as possible and then jump out. I would then take down three or four of the small alien crafts before landing on my feet, as if I just jumped off the hood of a car. The character doesn’t take damage from falls and its wonderful. While the helicopter was fun and pretty devastating once I mastered the sluggish controls, the other vehicles were hit or miss. The tank was very effective, but limited to just the main cannon and was easily overtaken by a swarm of ants. The little speeder bike was very fast, but with its pea shooter and lack of hit protection, I had to keep my distance. It’s all about the robot suit with unlimited machine gun rounds and missiles. I was able to take down two Vallak Dino-mechs, the game’s largest enemies, in each of the five difficulties without moving 10 feet from the level start position.
Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable was really a mindless recking ball of fun. For a third person shooter that is so old, it holds up well on the Vita both graphically and spiritually. Taking down hordes of bugs and hunting down the nest they keep spawning from is not very challenging, but doing it with only two weapons from the 150 that all need to be unlocked is quite fun. And the only way to get the good weapons is to play in the harder difficulties. That’s where the high level weapons are, but of course enemies are faster and take more hits.
On top of the epic 60-level single player campaign, there are two multiplayer options available from the Multiplay menu; Cooperative and Versus. Each of which is available via online or local multiplayer for 1-4 players. I was able to join an online co-op matchup with a guy who picked one of the most ant-infested missions imaginable and set the difficulty to Hard. I didn’t make it very long thanks to my lower stamina and weaker weapons. My co-op partner had decidedly better weapons and a higher stamina rating than me. Unfortunately, there was no one in the online competitive lobby to play with. I believe that will change as sales of the Vita start to pick up and people read this review.
This Vita port offers up an exclusive new character called Pale Wing. She is equipped with a really cool jet pack that gives her the upper hand while playing through the same levels as the EDF Captain. Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable also has a jaw dropping 64 trophies to unlock. Most of which are hidden trophies awarded by killing so many of each type of alien species. There are 10 trophies just for beating every level in each difficulty with both characters. Easier difficulties are not completed by simply beating a level on the hardest difficulty. The game actually requires that you play the mission in each of the five difficulties. There were some missions toward the end that had cheap deaths, and the debilitating fire coming from the giant mother flies was really annoying.
If you decide not to play this game, then you need to re-read this review. Despite all the flaws and bugginess I encountered, I was able to enjoy Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable more than some games having high production values. I know what to expect from an Uncharted by now and its frowned upon when a game like that doesn’t deliver. But when a game starring giant bugs and robots has issues, its pure entertainment. There is an insane amount of replayability with each level having five difficulties, another playthrough with the Vita exclusive Pale Wing character to unlock five more trophies, and the execution of multiplayer despite no one being online. The option is there for now and it works really well. I think $40 is a high price to pay for this game, but with a substantial price reduction Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable would become a must buy.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
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Release Date:January 2013
Players:1, 1-4 (Local), 1-4 (Online)