Earth Defence Force 2017

The little known Monster Attack on PlayStation 2 is probably the biggest hidden gem for the system. Released just before Big Ben Interactive popped their cogs, only a limited number of copies were made and review copies never reached the press. The idea was simple – run around Tokyo destroying UFOs, giant ants, Godzilla clones and so on, while climbing into different vehicles and choosing weapons tactically. In some ways in was superior to Grand Theft Auto – the draw distance whilst arsing around in a helicopter, for instance – but one thing really let the game down: the PlayStation 2 itself.

Earth Defence Force 2017It just couldn’t cope with the chaotic nature of it all and as such was prone to slow down to a crawl. With the power of the 360 though they’ve managed to unlock the franchise’s potential. We’re talking big open cities, AI team mates, massive explosions and countless enemies on the screen at once. Blowing up a skyscraper swarming with ants and watching their corpses fall to the ground is just one sight that’s guaranteed to impress. We’re also fond of the way that the giant robots recoil convincingly when hit with projectiles.

Only two weapons can be taken into combat at a time so you need to plan ahead. Usually an assault rifle and a missile/grenade launcher combo will do the trick, but if facing towering enemies then you’d be wise to take two heavy weapons instead.

This is a game that doesn’t take itself seriously at all. So much so that it’s not hard to imagine that some people simply won’t ‘get’ it. There are controllable vehicles and if you wanted to you could spend a level hiding on top of a building with a sniper rifle and take pot-shots, but if you’re expecting to spend hours exploring then you’ll be disappointed. If anything it has been designed to pay homage to the Godzilla films and other B-movies of yore. This would explain the clichéd speech samples at least.

The presentation isn’t exactly masterful either (no auto saves!) but it gets the job done and lest we forget: this is a budget game. It’s no Gears of War graphically but there are some nice special effects and the futuristic Tokyo is impressively built up if a little sterile. Repetition is the biggest problem – most levels only involve one enemy type, sometimes two at the most, and some of the locations are reused a bit too often. Developers Sandlot could have been more creative with the Xbox Live Achievements too – there are only six in total, five of which are for completing the game on the various difficulty levels. So to unlock all of them you’ll have to play every mission – of which there are 50 – five times each. Nevertheless, we’d take this over ‘generic war game 57’ any day.

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