Thereís just something about Japanese monster movies. Godzilla, Rodan, and all the rest of the Toho movie monster lineup have a special fascination for me personally. Yes most of the movies are poorly made and poorly acted but the concept of a 300 foot tall creature destroying Tokyo is something that for some reason strikes a cord with myself and other fans of the genre.
Much like those movies, the new Xbox 360 action game Earth Defense Force 2017 has a number of flaws. Yet when I began playing it I just couldnít stop. The game design is simple (one might even say it was archaic) but like the Toho monster movies the game drew me in thanks to several different factors. Itís a game that may not be to everyoneís taste but if you like your action games to truly be epic without a whole lot of thinking this might be for you.
EDF 2017 is a Japanese import from D3Publishing and was originally developed by Sandbox. The game is actually the third title in the Earth Defense Force series in Japan; the first two games were released for the PS2 console but were never released here in the US. The storyline, as one might expect, is pretty simple. Aliens are attacking Tokyo (and indeed the entire world) in the year 2017. You are a member of the Earth Defense Force and assigned to stop these invaders. The first mission lets you know right away that the alien force that has targeted Earth isnít little green men but massive aliens of all types, from giant ants and spiders to huge fighter-like ships to massive robots. The game itself is pretty massive as well; it has over 50 single player missions to complete. Thatís not bad for what is considered a ďvalue pricedĒ Xbox 360 game at $39.99.
The aliens themselves have attacks that range from the antís acid spray to the spiderís web tendrils to the robotís massive energy blasts. Itís not just their size thatís intimidating. Thereís also a ton of aliens on screen at any one time. Fans of the Serious Sam game series will feel right at home here; seeing dozens of 30 foot tall red ants charging at you is an experience you wonít get in many other action games. Not only that but some of the aliens (the big bugs mostly) can crawl on the sides and on tops of the buildings and other structures in the levels and (in some locations) on the sides and on the top of underground caverns. This makes them a little bit more unpredictable on where they might be located. You do have a 2D radar on the right side of your HUD that shows the locations of aliens but sometimes they may show one right next to you when in fact they are attacking you from above. One problem with having lots of enemies on screen is a hit in the gameís framerate. It definitely will slow to a crawl every so often when there are a large number of aliens on screen (although it doesnít happen that much). There are even bigger enemies to fight in the game but we will keep those as a surprise for you if you decide to pick this up
You arenít alone in fighting the aliens as the game gives you a number AI buddies to fight with. They arenít very smart; they tend to shoot at aliens nearby even if they are behind buildings or other barriers. They also tend to get killed early on in the missions. However they do provide some much needed help at times. In terms of the locations in the game, the designers seem to use many of the same levels and recycle them in different missions. After a while you will definitely get a sense of dťjŗ vu when you fight in the same park or in the same river or in the same cave over and over again. Urban cityscapes, underground caverns, and huge rural locations are the main setting for the gameís missions. One big selling point is that a large number of the gameís locations are destructible. You and the aliens usually bring down a large number of city buildings and locations in each mission.