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Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable

The world is in danger. The question of whether extra terrestrial life exists has been answered with a bona fide yes, and immediately replaced with something more urgent: Can the human race survive the arrival of their interstellar guests? Giant ants, giant spiders, robots as tall as skyscrapers and more have arrived to decimate the population. The aliens have come for our planet and it’s up to you to kill them all.

EDF 2017 comes as both a bigger and lesser port of the 2007 Xbox original. The splitscreen co-op is gone, of course, replaced by both local and online play for up to four soldiers. A second unlockable character has been added in and the already large game has seven more levels. There is also an Inferno difficulty, for those who feel the need for a little bit of punishment to go hand-in-hand with their bug extermination.

In short, this is the game for the gamer that enjoys shooting monsters, looting amazing new weapons, and then shooting the alien scumbags again with their upgraded firepower. There’s an occasional cinematic, but more often then not there’s little time for plot. It’ll drop you directly into the fray, each scenario pitting you up against a new horde of alien bugs.

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The loot itself is also simplified, coming in two forms: armor and weapon kits. Each armor kit raises your health by one point, each weapon kit grants you a random weapon at the end of the level. It’s needless to say that it’s always a good idea to collect plenty of both. The starting weapons work well enough, but the more you collect, the more effective you’ll become at killing aliens.

And, surprisingly, there is strategy to be found when choosing, and using, weapons in a mission. You’re only allowed to carry two weapons, but they can be anything from assault rifles to shotguns, missile launchers to special drones. Every mission comes with a short description of what to expect, giving you a chance to figure out what would work the best.

While a few of the weapons are just superfluous upgrades over previous ones, a lot of them come with their own unique features. Some of them, like a grenade that weighs so much it can only be tossed a few feet in front of you, require some thought as to where they’d best be utilized. This grenade, for instance, is typically an easy and unfortunate way for a soldier to commit suicide on the battlefield. Too much power exploding too close equals extra crispy. However, encounter a cave level with a vertical drop and aliens nesting at the bottom and you’ve got an excellent method of clearing them out.

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The strengths of EDF 2017 lie in the rampant destruction you cause along with the plethora of artillery to do it with. It’s a long game, for just one playthrough, and it’s one that wants you to play it again and again, with each difficulty level rewarding you with better weapons. And if you look past the games flaws you might enjoy the simple shoot’em up for what it is.

Because it’s not very endearing from the get go. Arrive onto the battlefield for the first time and you’ll see some of the worst low-resolution graphics this side of a last-gen launch title. Everything looks bad, from the bugs you fight, the environment you battle in and the generic soldier you play as. This is an old looking game that is especially dated today.

The enemy roster is also desperately lacking. You fight to brown ants and the red ants, the brown spiders and the white spiders. There are two different colors for a gunship, along with a third variant that wields different guns, and one type of giant robot, possibly armed with three types of armament. Add on a few boss monsters and you’ve got the entire bestiary of EDF 2017, and it is lacking. Divide ants, spiders, gunships and robots into 60 levels and you can imagine the lack of variety you’ll be running into over and over again.

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Because every level is concerned with shooting up a horde of bad guys, it makes it hard to tell what is the genuine gameplay experience and what is filler. While the majority of the stages jump around randomly, eight levels of the game are entirely devoted to sequential descents into ant filled caves. Each quickly feels identical to the last, very rarely offering anything new to challenge you.

Almost every aspect of the audio is poorly produced. The guns sound ineffective, as if they’re spitting bullets out the barrel. Your teammates are constantly shouting something, sometimes over each other, sometimes the exact same thing. And if the radio chatter isn’t cluttering up over the sounds of the gunfire, it’s the terrible orchestral score that repeats itself at any given opportunity.

Then the environments are way too big for what you’re expected to do in them. There were frequent occasions in which I had to plod my way from one side of the map to the other just to kill the one ant that randomly crawled away from the pack. There are vehicles, but they lack decent controls, let alone a targeting reticle. The mech gets special mention for being undrivable, as it seems almost impossible to turn.

This is a game that wears out its welcome several hours into the show. Eight hours of the same mindless killing of identical waves of bugs is a tiresome ordeal. Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable is a game with too much filler and not enough ambition, packaged in bargain bin wrappings.

5 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2011.

Gentle persuasion

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