Review - Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable

Posted on January 16, 2013 - 10:00pm

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D3 takes the insect invasion portable, bringing the cult-classic Earth Defense Force 2017 to the PlayStation Vita. EDF 2017 Portable wants to attract new and old fans alike; opting to add new playable characters, weapons, and game modes. This makes the Vita version more than a simple port. While those changes might be enough for hardcore fans, most Vita owners may find the cost too high for a game so inexplicably fun.

Face it; EDF 2017 never looked very good. This is something that everyone should come to terms with before playing this game. The best thing EDF 2017 Portable has going for it are the fully destructible environments and most of them look so bad, you want to blow them up. On a portable console it bothers me less, but keep in mind you do not want to play this game for its looks. Even though the character models are blocky and vehicles bland, the fog of war is relatively low. Strategically this is advantageous when you have long ranged weapons equipped.

As for the enemy types, they are obvious clones marching en masse to consume the city you’re trying to protect. There is only a handful of unique locations, but with every mission introducing new waves of enemies or combining them in different ways, it doesn’t seem to matter. Some missions have giant insects pouring out of a hovering UFO, while others emerge from nests underground. Their animations and AI behavior are what really make them visually pop. Ants scurry up sides of buildings, spiders hop around methodically shooting webs, and the large mechs stomp through the city unabated. Despite an enemy getting stuck in an environment's geometry on rare occasion, the look of these alien invaders consuming the city is what you’d expect.

Audibly speaking the game is a waste.  The music is essentially a generic action/suspense soundtrack, with little variation between missions. It seems to be put in place to create tension, though the nature of fighting the insects does that already, in spades. There are undertones of familiar science fiction synths, but it is barely noticeable in the heat of battle. The voice acting on the other hand is terrible. I mean the god awful banter between you AI companions is laughable and the various officers spewing orders over the comm. system are equally as bad. No random AI dude, we will not be cutting out early to go grab dinner. Fuck off!

EDF 2017 Portable is a third-person shooter with that classic arcade feel; by that I mean it isn’t very technical. While the AI can flank you and may even surprise you from time to time, you spend most of the game running backwards, shooting at a giant wave of ever encroaching death. It is very much a game where standing in one place for too long will get you killed. You play a generic soldier, Storm 1, who battles across 50+ missions, all of which ultimately require you to kill everything. The map is extremely handy in helping you track down that last bug and the environments being destructible eliminate the need to scour alleyways. Just simply blow up any buildings that are in your way! You’d think this rinse repeat approach to game design would become boring, but thanks to the elaborate weapons, that is rarely the case.  

EDF 2017 has hundreds of weapons. This is a big part of what makes the EDF franchise stand out in my opinion. There are eight different weapon classes, each with dozens and dozens of variations on a core theme. Examples of some truly unique designs are the Bound Gun, with a 200 round clip and bouncing bullets, making fighting in tight spaces a cake walk. Or you have the Stampede, which is a grenade launcher that will carpet bomb everything in your line of site. Vehicles also play a prominent role and when used effectively, make you unstoppable. My personal favorite was the apache helicopter, but others include tanks, mechs, and a hover bike. Vehicles are unique to each stage and weapons are collected gradually as random drops. Enemies will also drop health upgrades, ensuring you circle back and scoop up the last drop before a mission is complete. It is something that isn’t very fun, but is very necessary.

There are some issues I take with the rules established in the game world. For example, explosions from enemies don’t hurt you, but get too close to one of your weapon’s explosion and these bugs will be enjoying some Storm 1 kibble. The jump button just doesn’t work when you’re too close to an object in the environment, which is bullshit when this badass soldier has trouble navigating a bike rack. Then there were multiple missions where an enemy fell through the environment and I couldn’t complete the mission. They’re little inconsistencies that won’t ruin the game, but further expose the lack of polish.

If you enjoy the combat, EDF has a lot of replayability. After you finish those 50 or so missions, Pale Wing is unlocked giving you a completely different way to play. She comes with unique weapons of her own and a jetpack, offering a twist to the mechanics if you want to go back through the five available difficulties. These missions can also be completed with a buddy via co-op online or locally. There is also a verses mode for online or local play. EDF 2017 Portable offers a lot in a nice compact package.

The biggest obstacle to EDF 2017 becoming the sort of game every Vita owner should pick up is the price. At $40, this would be competing against something like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Persona 4: The Golden. Its visuals won’t compare with the competition and the audio is forgettable. Sure the addictive nature of the gameplay is stupid fun and if you enjoy it, EDF 2017 has hours of content available. But with the Xbox 360 version of the game hitting the five year mark, you can get the same experience on the big screen, for a quarter of the price. Regardless, EDF 2017 Portable is the same silly fun for first timers and hardcore fans alike.

6 - Above Average6s have good ideas, but may not be executed the best. It can be enjoyable by certain circumstances or fans, but may feel shallow to most.

ScrewAttack's News Director Sean Hinz worked in logistics for over four years before decided it was time to switch industries. After a couple years spent getting an MBA and freelancing, he finally found a home at As far as games go, Sean likes to play anything he can get his hands on, but especially enjoys third-person action RPGs. Is that really a genre?

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