Earth Defense Force 2017

Xbox 360

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 7

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8


With “cult classic” written all over it, the goofy and oddly addictive Earth Defense Force 2017 is one of the best action titles for the 360 not named Gears of War, Halo 3 or Crackdown. Granted, that doesn’t leave a lot, but this undeniably energetic throwback to countless classic arcade shooters is a blast.

It’s a simple formula:

Giant bugs + rocket launcher + destructible environments = Fun.

earthdefenseforce1360.jpg (125574 bytes)While desperately needing some online co-op play, this two player local shooter rarely loses its appeal as you plow through 52 levels of goo-spitting ants, web spinning oversized spiders, laser beam firing robots and the “death from above” mothership raining hell on the planet. Everything here screams retro update, from the simple plot that requires nothing more than aliens need to be killed, outrageous weapons and repetitive enemies.

EDF presents its own breed of chaotic action from a third-person view and vertical split screen when a friend joins the fight. Saying the enemy mass together doesn’t even begin to get the point across. There are literally hundreds of foes barreling down at the player at any given time and, until the map is clear, the next stage remains locked. Even though the graphics range from unspectacular to drab, there’s no sense of losing the illusion that you’re a puny human stacked against towering robots 20 times your size. Never has a game featured a sense of scale like this.

With the amount of available levels, it’s only natural that things grow repetitive. An entire section of the game (five levels), going underground to eliminate the horde of giant insects, is repeated later in the game. If you’re not used to the repetition of retro titles, blasting away a few thousand ants with a rocket launcher may become a little dull.

EDF tries hard to stay fresh. New weapons can be picked up on the battlefield and added to your stash. You’ll have your choice between two weapons when actually in combat, so choosing wisely for the upcoming scene is crucial. Other power-ups increase your armor rating, which is a necessity for higher difficulties.

You can replay levels on any difficulty, and the hardest also bring the best weapons. In fact, replaying levels is crucial to your success if you plan on playing anything higher than easy (which you’ll need to do to earn all the achievements). In a nice gesture, all achievements can be earned in co-op play, and your partner shares your stats, allowing buddies to jump in without worrying about what level their character is.

Vehicle-based play is a nice inclusion, though you’re likely a stronger force on foot. Not only are these land and air vehicles weak, they’re nearly impossible to control. No aiming reticule is present and if you like inverted controls, prepare for a quick lesson. There’s no option to invert vehicle controls. This is almost as annoying as the lack of auto save.

The game unquestionably becomes a test of endurance as the final levels creep up. The lack of variety really shows through and makes you yearn for more encounters like the giant robotic dinosaur that devastates the city while you fight or the final showdown between you and the mothership.

Still, the sense of mass chaos, sheer number of attacking enemies and the ability to make the player feel like they’re in full control of it all keep EDF at its peak. With a partner, this one is a perfect time waster in short or extended sessions. This is as epic as a budget release could ever imagine being, and in some ways, handles this task better than some heavily-hyped, mega-dollar release.


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Last updated: Monday, April 09, 2007 10:40 PM