Aliens are invading the earth! The main idea of many movies, books, and games returns again in Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable. This game was initially released on the Xbox 360 in 2007, and it makes a return on the Vita, adding some new features. I will be reviewing this game as though it is brand new, however, so if you only want to know how the Vita version fares, and see what’s new, jump to the “Why the Vita?/What’s New in This Version?” section.EDF-2017-portable-cover.jpg

  • Story

The year is 2013 (ha) when we first made radio contact with aliens, proving that there is in fact life outside of Earth. Just in case these aliens are hostile, Earth starts training an elite alien fighting force, the Earth Defense Force or EDF for short. Stationed all around the world, the EDF are ready to fight alien forces should they become hostile. And they do. In the year 2017, first contact is made as UFOs fly over every major city in the world, dropping giant bugs to destroy the cities. It is then the EDF’s job to stop the aliens and destroy the giant bugs and anything else the aliens throw at them. The story is pretty enjoyable, straightforward and plays out just like an old science fiction movie, complete with cheesy lines, and seemingly insurmountable odds. Is it a unique story? No. Is it interesting enough to keep you going? Absolutely, however the incredibly enjoyable gameplay is what will have you craving more, not the story.

  • Gameplay

Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable is a 3rd person shooter with very simple controls. Move, aim, jump/dodge, fire, and zoom/activate (For set bombs and such.). Reloading is only done when a magazine is completely empty, no manual reload here. You play as an unnamed solder in the Storm 1 Earth Defense Force, and your objective is always to destroy all the bugs, robots, UFOs or whatever else the aliens send your way. Upon defeating enemies, they can drop an armor unit, a weapon drop, two variants of health or nothing. If you complete a level, any weapons you pick up will be added to your list (assuming you don’t already have them) and for every armor unit you’ve picked up, it will add 1 HP to your maximum health, making grinding possible, although not really necessary until the harder difficulties. There are over 150 weapons for you to find and use between assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, rocket launchers, grenades and grenade launchers, tools for supporting teammates, and special weapons, including everything from flame throwers to acid sprayers to automated turrets and many more. There really is something for everyone here, you can just take it as it comes, and mow down all opposition, or you can grind it out for health, or try to obtain all the weapons. There are 5 difficulty levels, and each difficulty level will give you better and more powerful weapons. Once you start getting into the harder difficulties, you may need to start grinding armor, or find online help to complete certain stages, as things can get overwhelming, difficult, or flat out frustrating. After you complete the game the first time, you unlock the Pale Wing character, who replaces the jump/dodge button with a jet pack and the ability to fly around the levels! It also adds an all new set of weapons exclusively for the Pale Wing. However, they are all energy weapons that are tied in with your jet pack energy, forcing you to use your weapons and jet pack tactically. There are also vehicles for use in the game such a tank, helicopter, hover bike, and the Vegalta battle mech. Unfortunately, the vehicles control kind of quirkily, but they are easy to get used to. The only real gripes I have with the gameplay and controls is that the Storm character moves awfully slow, and the dodge actually makes him move quicker, so if you want to quickly get around the levels, you need to be constantly dodging. Also, all the missions are relatively the same, just killing bugs and things in a few different areas, so it can get tiring and repetitive for some. As an added note, on the harder difficulties and missions you can experience slow down from all the enemies on the map at the same time.2016182-673385_20121029_003.jpg

  • Presentation and Music

The music is forgettable, nothing special. The graphics are realistic, although they are more on par with late PS2 graphics instead of the high-quality HD graphics one may be used to, although the bugs do look pretty sharp. (and frightening) Again, the gameplay is where this game shines.

  • Length

With a total of 60 missions, 5 difficulties and 2 characters, you’ve got 600 missions to complete! (Or rather, the same 60 missions 600 times over.)With each mission taking from around 5-20 minutes, the missions are reasonable lengths, and completing the story once through will take you about 8 or 9 hours, give or take. With all the weapons to collect and armor to find, this game can end up taking you about 100 hours to do everything in! Plenty of replay value here, especially with all the different weapons, and the two separate characters. There is also an online and ad-hoc multiplayer mode of completing missions cooperatively and a versus mode as well, adding even more playtime.

  • Why the Vita?/What’s New in This Version?

The mission setup plays well on the Vita, for both quick pick up and plays to long sessions. The only Vita specific feature is that you can control the camera with the touchscreen or set it to the back touchpad, but it’s more of an afterthought than an actual feature. The Vita version adds online multiplayer as well as adhoc, both co-op and versus. When you play online, it restricts how much armor health you have as well as restricting the more powerful weapons if you’re playing on lower difficulties online, to put players on level peggings. The online play is seamless. The reasons this version is the superior version are the addition of multiplayer online and adhoc, as well as the new character, Pale Wing, adding a whole new style of play.

The Bottom Lines

Pros

  • Addictive and fun gameplay.
  • Tons to do and plenty of replayability.
  • Seamless and fun online play.

Cons

  • Somewhat repetitive.
  • Shallow story.
  • Last generation graphics and irritating slow down

 

Final Score: 8/10

A great game that is a lot of fun, with only a few flaws keeping it from being perfect.