Global Defence Force

A short while ago Sony got a scolding over Resistance on PlayStation 3 featuring a battle in Manchester Cathedral. What occurs in Global Defence Force isn’t as sacred, but within the first few minutes alone you can reduce Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament or the London Eye to a pile of rubble.

If the Daily Mail found out they’d probably still stamp their feet until it was banned. Which would be a shame, as it’s one of the PlayStation 2’s best budget buys. So let’s keep the destruction of London to ourselves.

Playing like an unofficial tribute to Starship Troopers, Global Defence Force is a simple idea done well: destroy every enemy on the map to progress to the next round. It all starts off with an invasion of ants, then spiders and other enlarged bugs before moving onto mechs, UFOs and Godzilla lookalikes.

It’s uncommon to come up against more than three different enemy types in the same mission, which does induce some tedium, but the fact that new weapons are unlocked after pretty much every successful mission keeps you playing. A two-weapon limit helps gives the game a tactical feel.

This isn’t a massive leap over its predecessor, not that it matters; Monster Attack – which is what Bigben embarrassingly called it over here – was only released in minuscule numbers, and as such not many people got to play it. And unsurprisingly, it’s a step down from the Xbox 360 version – Earth Defence Force 2017, which is actually the sequel to this, despite being released first – with no AI team mates and few missions. In some ways it’s superior to EDF though, with a second playable character – an anonymous jetpack-wearing female – joining the team.

Her weapon set has a sci-fi slant, with plasma rifles and a peculiar laser pistol available from the off. The jetpack can only be used for a limited time, but is of course ideal for taking out enemies on the ground. The draw distance is impressive when jetting around – it easily puts the likes of Grand Theft Auto and True Crime to shame – and some of the environments are nice. The reflective windows in a Tokyo business district spring to mind.

Vehicles can be clambered into – cue plenty of squabbling in the entertaining co-op mode – and you’re free to run riot in the open environments. Just don’t expect plenty things to play around with – the cities haven’t been designed to reward explorers.

Being as fun and frantic as it is, we don’t have many complaints. If anything the PlayStation 2 itself is to blame, often struggling with the sheer amount going on at once. It’s most notable in the co-op mode where the frame rate doesn’t go back up into respectable figures until you’ve wiped out most of the enemies.

A slap on the back of the hand also goes to publisher Essential Games (AKA D3 Publishing) for not including a 60Hz mode and giving us huge borders. If 505 Games can find the time and money to optimise their NTSC-to-PAL conversions, then we’re sure that Essential Games can too.