A new feature I’d like to introduce to the Buttonmashing community where I give you the 411 on some of the gems that may have fell through your gaming cracks
THE GIST: A few months ago I rented Earth Defense Force 2017 on a whim, what I got was pure balls-to-the-wall action for 53 carpal tunnel inducing levels. Throughout my entire time with this title I was continually astonished at both how large in scope and how wonderfully detailed it was.
The idea is simple, take on a seemingly endless horde of alien bugs, ships, mechs and mega-mechs en route to saving the world for the umptenth time in digital fashion amidst some of the best lighting and explosive effects on the 360.
What a lovely sunset… The setting Star of Phebus turns everything is touches a lovely shade of orange, even those alien dropships!
THE GAMEPLAY: No real science here. Pick two weapons from the mission briefing screen, enter the battlefield, aim and shoot! Fallen enemies will sometimes drop different powerups ranging from health and shield upgrades to new weapons (better weapons become available depending on the level and difficulty setting). Blasting through all the easier levels powers you up for the more challenging settings (5 in all) and it all comes down to whether or not you want to play the same 53 levels 5 times through.
The levels themselves are quite varied. One mission may have you destroying all the enemy hives (spawns) in a hillside area, the next might have you travel underground into a giant alien hive to take out the queen, while another could pit you against a lumbering 4-legged metal behemoth in the center of downtown Tokyo.
My what big laser mortar arms you have!!!
Though the simple run-and-shoot gameplay is recycled from level to level E.D.F. 2017 does a great job and not only breaking up the surroundings but also your technique. Occasionally you can hop into a mech, tank, or helicopter to gain an upper-hand. Additonally as you progress and gather new weapons and improved versions of others there is a bit of, albeit limited, strategy needed as you enter the mission.
Despite it’s simplicity I never grew tired of the gameplay though my wrists did with my non-stop buttonmashing. If there is any fault with this game it lies in the fact that there is no online co-op gameplay, only co-op locally. If ever a title that would benefit from online co-op it is this one as some of the later levels can get downright brutal.
When it comes to explosive effects you’ll be hard pressed to beat what Earth Defense Force 2017 offers.
THE GRAPHICS: As you can see from these screenshots E.D.F 2017 is no slouch in the graphics department. In my opinion the game uses some of the most realistic lighting effects I have seen on the 360 console and really justifies the need for an HDTV.
This game definitely throws alot at you all at once but gives you the necessary tools to combat whatever you may encounter.
The enemies, especially all the ships and mechs, are wonderfully detailed and beautifully animated. For instance, hit one of the two-legged mechs in the left side with a missle and it will violently trash to the right. It’s the small details like this that make you appreciate the title that much more and also compensates for the somewhat, well, downright blah levels.
Though it is cool as all get-out to see a 20 story building crumble at the result of an errant fired missle it kinda wears thin when you see the same building collapse for the 500th time. Still there are some structures that dismantle quite dramatically, at least for the first few times anyways.
“My mech is bigger than your mech.” “Yeah, well my mech has GPS, bucket seats, 4 cup holders, and factory installed XM!”
THE AMBIANCE: From the moment you take to the battlefield in the first mission you get the overwhelming sense at just how large your enemy is and almost a feeling of “how the Hell am I going to get through this?”
The varied surroundings go from inner-city, to spawling hillsides, to subterranean alien ant caves and do a nice job at breaking up the montony without losing the signature scope of the title.
Explosive sound effects, gunfire, radio chatter, and random one-liners from your squadmates all add to the fray and confusion resulting in some tense moments culminating into one of the most seizure-inducing final battles I have ever witnessed in 20 years of gaming.
Furthermore E.D.F. 2017 rewards you visually when you do take down an enemy of signifcance. When I took down my first dropship early on in the game and watched it slowly fall to Earth in flames I thought of Return of the Jedi when the Super Star Destroyer crashed into the Death Star. Once I realized that the burning mass of metal was going to land right on me I quickly came back from my nostalgic memory and hightailed it out of there.
Ants! Spiders, and spaceships! OH MY!!!
THE VERDICT: When Earth Defense Force 2017 released in mid-March it only had a $39.99 price tag which was easily worth the price for admission then. Seeing that you can snag this little underrated beauty for under $30.00 now there is really no reason not to give this game a try.
All images courtesy of ign.com