Michael Leparc On February 25, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Earth Defence Force 2017 PS VITA ScreenshotEarth Defense Force 2017 Portable is a game that arguably shouldn’t exist. It doesn’t have the most original gameplay or story. The graphics are nothing to write home about. It’s a port of an Xbox 360 exclusive to the current generation system with the smallest audience, the Playstation Vita. Yet there’s something about it that is still quite enthralling about its simplicity, and its choice of platform ends up being quite appropriate in the sense that it’s an underdog game for an underdog system, with plenty of fans in the corner for each.

If you’ve played one Earth Defense Force, you’ve played them all as far as the story goes. In this case, the invading alien force, dubbed the Ravagers, arrives over Tokyo, unleashing its army of giant ants, spiders, and robots. You play as an anonymous captain of the Storm 1 unit in the EDF. Your job is to take the fight to the evil bugs and company, in the city, the rural areas, on the beach, and even under the surface. It all unfolds in game, with no major cutscenes, only an annoying tendency to steal your camera’s focus in the middle of battle. In total there are 60 missions of varying length (that’s seven new missions over the original Xbox version for those counting), some of them ridiculously short and only taking a couple minutes to complete, at least on the lower difficulty settings, but others consisting of several waves that take multiple minutes to clear. All in all though it will take you well under 10 hours of play time to complete the first run on Easy or Normal.

Speaking of which, don’t expect to jump right into the game on the highest setting, no matter how good you are. EDF 2017 is designed as a grind and collect fest, which means you will have to focus on upgrading your character by picking up all the armor and weapon upgrades you can through each mission if you want to progress. It’s certainly not a game for those who dislike repetitiveness. While new enemies are introduced throughout the game, you’re really just slaughtering hundreds of ants and spiders for the most part, over and over again. The fun is in trying out that new assault rifle or missile launcher you just got and seeing whether it’s more efficient or not at wiping out the alien hordes. There’s literally dozens upon dozens of weapons, some of which are just upgrades of previous versions, but others which are radically different and have various tradeoffs, like a loss of mobility or the inability to reload in the field.

You also have a few vehicles you can use in certain missions, like a tank, helicopter, and mech. The only problem with that is they are all a pain in the ass to control and cannot sustain any real abuse at all before blowing up on you, though the mech in particular is extremely powerful for taking out certain boss enemies as long as you keep your distance. There are special items you can equip to increase the usefulness of a vehicle but they last for a short amount of time and come at the expense of a weapon slot. A nice addition to this version of the game is the inclusion of the Pale Wing soldier from Earth Defense Force 2. Pale Wing is a female soldier equipped with jetpack and advanced, energy based weaponry. This adds even more replay value beyond the collection aspect. All in all I found the game enjoyable to play, though I will say that one thing I did find tiresome was the task of hunting down the one or two enemies which stubbornly refused to move from their origin point halfway across the map.

Another new feature of this port of EDF 2017 is the introduction of online versus and co-op multiplayer, which was not found in the 360 version for whatever reason. Unfortunately because this feature is tacked on to a pre-existing game, it does not have the drop in/drop out capability of its sequel, Insect Armageddon. Instead you need to join a lobby and look for existing games, which like in most Vita games I’ve tried so far, is a chore in itself. The times I’ve tried there’s only been 3 or 4 public games available, and they were full of hardcore players with fully upgraded characters playing on the hardest setting. Not exactly newbie friendly territory here. So be prepared to grind through a lot of single player before jumping online, unless you have some friends to play with on your level. That said the feature does work and it’s great that the developers put in the effort to incorporate this.

Being that this is a port of a first generation Xbox 360 title, there’s very little to be impressed with here on the visual end. Textures of the buildings and such are flat and repetitive, with lots of pop in and a noticeable fog effect in the distance. The bugs themselves are low detail and extremely polygonal compared to their counterparts in the sequel. That’s to be expected however, especially considering the vast amount of enemies that can flood your screen so fortunately the framerate isn’t really an issue until the final stages of the game where they throw caution to the wind, and even then it’s still perfectly playable and merely adds to the sense of chaos. What can’t be forgiven is the sound in this game. While the music is perfect for the occasion, the dramatic flair of it can grate after the hundredth mission. More quickly annoying is all the chatter of your AI teammates, who repeatedly tell you thousands of times per mission that they are out of ammo or need help. I found myself muting the game just so I could finish it without going insane.

I wish I could recommend this game hands down, because I did indeed enjoy it overall, but obviously this type of game isn’t for everyone. If you enjoy the simplicity of killing lots of things with the depth of weaponry I’ve described here then this is one of the better games on the market for that (outside of the randomized weapons of Borderlands, anyway). If you can’t stand this sort of mindless fare then feel free to move along as nothing about this game is special enough to change your mind. That said, even for diehard fans of the Earth Defense Force series, it is hard to justify the current $40 asking price, considering even the original Xbox 360 version was a budget title. Truly the odds are stacked against this game from the outset, which is a shame because we could certainly use more like it, albeit hopefully better executed.


Kill lots of stuff, get new weapons, rinse, repeat. The vehicles stink for the most part, but the addition of PaleWing and online multiplayer give it more replay value, if you can find someone to play with anyway.


Perhaps not fair to judge a game from 8 years ago on this. Gets credit for keeping the framerate up.


The main theme is really the only saving grace. Incredibly annoying.


This score is dragged down by the games deficiencies in the graphics and sound department, but if you can look past that there is a lot of fun to be had. It’s the price that will have you on the fence.

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