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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

D3 Publisher

 

Developer

Sandlot

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

March 20, 2007

 

 

- It's like playing the central role in a sci-fi B-movie

- 100 different weapons

- Satisfying graphics

- Two-player co-op (and battle)

 

 

- Vehicles leave much to be desired

- Slowdown galore!

- Only seven achievements?

 

 

Review: Dead Rising (360)

Review: Bullet Witch (360)

Review: Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (360)

 

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Earth Defense Force 2017

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

For so many reasons Earth Defense Force 2017 should not succeed at garnering any kind of praise.  It has a host of problems that other so-called bargain bin games have but not only does Earth Defense Force 2017 escape the inexorable pull to the bottom of the bin it actually breaks free and is already on my shortlist of 2007’s most fun games because despite all its flaws – the largely useless vehicles, repetitive objectives, recycled environments over 53 levels – Earth Defense Force 2017 succeeds in transporting gamers to a world where Ultraman is real, Inframan will sign your autograph book, and any number of B-movie clichés are given digital life. (Note: Neither Ultraman nor Inframan actually appear.)

 

earth defense force 2017          earth defense force 2017

 

As part of the Earth Defense Force – your codename is “Storm 1” – you begin each level with two weapons (most of which have unlimited ammo) and the main objective of killing anything that looks like a giant spider, ant or robot. And if you see UFOs or alien gunships, take those out too.  There never seems to be a lack of viable targets.

 

Just like a lot of sci-fi B-movies, the cityscape is extremely fragile.  Buildings have all the strength of a balsa wood model.  Fire a single rocket into the largest of

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buildings and the whole thing tumbles down into a neat pile of rubble.  The below-ground environments aren’t quite as satisfying as urban fighting because there’s nothing to destroy – you can’t look around at the end of the battle and survey your plan of saving humanity by leveling an entire city.  The upside is that the underground levels throw waves of 

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enemies at you from both below and above and well as head-on, which makes for some very intense battles.

 

Actually, most of the game is made up of stupidly intense battles – your radar will turn almost completely red during some of the onslaughts.  And when they don’t come in numbers, they make up for it in size.  Some of Earth Defense Force 2017’s enemies are huge!  And the developers went out of their way to make it satisfying to take them down – explosions are massive!

 

earth defense force 2017          earth defense force 2017

 

When I started playing Earth Defense Force 2017, I chose the “Hard” difficulty level, which is the middle selection and stumbled on the first level at least a couple dozen times.  I swallowed my pride and re-started at the “ Normal ” difficulty, which allowed me to plough through a dozen levels in one go. (A note on Achievements: EDF 2017 has a sum total of seven and if you can get them all send me a picture as proof.  I’m certain no one will get all of them.)

 

During the course of each level, downed enemies will often drop power-ups.  The health icons refill your health immediately, but the armor and weapon icons are tallied at the close of each level.  Armor icons will boost your maximum health gauge, while weapon icons may add new weapons to your overall inventory (which can only be accessed between missions).  After finishing the game with over 50 different weapons, I did some searching online and apparently there are 150 different weapons!  But then I was playing on “ Normal ” – played on the higher difficulty increases the number of icon drops and availability of more powerful weaponry, which ranges from acid spitters and rocket launchers to shotguns and sentry guns.  Once you have these more powerful weapons you can re-tackle any completed level at your leisure on a higher difficulty.

 

To make the game even more fun, Sandlot included split-screen co-op play.  Though play over Live might have been ideal, with the amount of slowdown thanks to all those huge enemies, I’m not sure how successful it would have been.

 

earth defense force 2017          earth defense force 2017

 

If all those weapons and co-op can’t help you push back the invading force, there are also a handful of relatively useless vehicles: a slow but powerful mech, a slow-firing tank, an attack helicopter, and a speeder on loan from Endor.  I say they’re relatively useless because the controls are straight-up awful.  And for some reason, the developers switch up the controls when you’re in a vehicle (except for the speeder) which makes sense to the degree that they have some unique weaponry – the mech has a flame thrower, gun, and rocket launcher – but the Y-axis will flip.  When you aim up, you’re aiming down, and vice versa.  It’s unnecessarily frustrating, but at least hopping into a vehicle is completely optional.

 

The heart and soul of any foreign B-movie – foreign to North America in this case – is the often horrid English dub.  Earth Defense Force 2017 doesn’t disappoint!  For those that find the constant quips of the other EDF members the volume can be turned down or off, but for the rest of us we’ll enjoy those bon mots which are repeated (often) throughout the game.  But their lives are often cut short so you never have to listen to them for long.

 

Earth Defense Force 2017 overcomes its weaknesses by being brainless and ridiculous fun.  It’s as simple as that.  Play, have fun.  For a measly $40US any action fan or B-movie enthusiast can be enjoying themselves right now with this game.

 

- Omni

(March 27, 2007)

 

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