Earth is under attack once again from mysterious alien life forms who have travelled the universe to destroy everything human on the planet. There is no convoluted attempt at negotiation and the reality is either kill or be killed. The EDF (Earth Defence Force) was established to counter this attack and as part of the Japanese branch of the force it’s up to you to get stuck in and slaughter as many of the invading critters as possible; ultimately saving the remaining citizens of Earth in this last struggle for survival.
EDF 2017 is a pure third person arcade shooter that offers some mild options for differing gameplay styles. Basically it’s you and a few good men of the EDF who fight alongside you as the invading insects and other monstrosities try and take control. Armed with an assortment of weapons which can be selected prior to each mission gamers can mix it up a little as they are allowed to carry two weapons only. The weapons come in the usual form of shotguns, Assault Rifles, Sniper Rifles, Grenade Launchers, Missile Launchers, Flame throwers and many more special weapons to boot. As you roam the killing fields, slain enemies will sometimes drop additional weapons for you to collect and use in future missions so that come the end of the game you will have a fairly decent selection of arms to choose from. Obviously some are better than others depending on the situation you are in and so some experimentation is required. What is rather neat is being able to replay any mission you have completed and try again at a higher (or lower) difficulty. As the game suggests, more powerful weapons can be obtained by playing on harder settings of which there are 5 ranging from Easy to Inferno.
Playing the game is relatively simple as you are presented with fairly large open areas such as cities or open fields. There is an on screen radar which pin points the locations of enemy targets and so it’s a case of jumping in and then heading for the nearest red dots; then tucking in for some intense shooting and blowing stuff up.
The enemies are pretty low intelligence in that they attempt to overwhelm you with numbers rather than skill and so more often than not you will end up in situations where you are totally surrounded by these giant insects. The enemies come in a few forms and to be honest there could have been a little more variety. You have basic giant ants to contend with, giant red ants, huge spiders and then more technical foes such as giant robots and space ships. As with many arcade games there are some missions where drop ships or tunnels spew out more enemies and so gamers are encouraged to target the source first. That said, you never run out of ammo and so it’s up to you if you want to sit there and just kill as many aliens as possible whilst picking up items (farming).
There’s also another mechanic at work here as some dead foes drop Armour which when collected can boost your overall health. Battles do become a mindless session of killing but with the added bonus of hunting for the dropped items as well. There are 53 missions to battle through across multiple locales and whilst the game play is some what repetitive it is undoubtedly very fun in smaller doses. 53 missions does seem like a lot and even on the easiest setting will take a while to wade through them although some missions can be over quite quickly.
EDF also features some vehicles to use when you see fit, such as helicopters, tanks, mechs and speeder bikes. However these control so terribly poor that their use is very limited. I actually ignored these once I discovered how poorly they controlled and figured I would stand a better chance without them.
Graphically, EDF looks quite slick as there are some impressive enemies (especially the giant bosses) and a huge sense of scale throughout, even though the city seems devoid of life. What is equally impressive is the fact that every building or skyscraper is destructible; which means firing rockets at enemies and missing will result in a building being destroyed in the background (luckily you aren’t punished for this).
Sadly EDF seems to be rather too ambitious for its own good at times as it’s not all plain sailing. Sometimes there are just so many enemies attacking you coupled with loads of explosions and laser fire the game simply can’t cope and begins to slowdown (dips in frame rate). This is annoying and does affect your overall enjoyment of the game as it does happen quite often. What is also unusual is the way dead enemies are solid and often will block your path until they disappear; although you can shoot them out of the way somewhat.
The audio is pretty standard fare as far as I’m concerned although there’s definitely a tongue in cheek flavour to the voice acting. Throughout the game there is constant radio chatter which adds a lot of personality and intensity to proceedings. Then there is the often humorous chatter from your EDF buddies; although these guys all sound the same and utter repeated phrases more than is necessary. The music isn’t much to write home about either and simply is there in the background neither adding tension nor evoking any sort of emotional attachment. Other sound effects such as gunfire are as you would expect and fit the theme of the game well.
As mentioned earlier there are 53 levels to play through of which can take around 10 plus hours to beat depending on your skills and patience. EDF is a game that is meant to be played more than once and so upping the difficulty to not only add more challenge but to find better weapons is a must. With the five levels of difficulty and a character to build up then there’s plenty of life here for the lone player. EDF does feature some two player modes such as Battle Mode and of course playing the story mode in co-op via split screen. Sadly there are no options for Xbox Live play which is a big shame as it could have added a lot more variety to the game. Achievement hunters will have to endure if they are to get the 1000 points available and this means playing through the game five times which is very time consuming and if done end to end could get very boring indeed.
We’ve had Lost Planet, Bullet Witch and to some degree Gears of War to provide us with a shooting fix. Well EDF is similar to all three of those games and has its own charms. It is a very simple game with little depth in terms of story and characterisation and when it works can produce some genuine wow moments. However the poor controls for vehicles and the repetitive nature of the game coupled with some irritating moments of slowdown present a game that lacks a final polish. If you’ve played the aforementioned games to death and are looking for some mindless fun and can overlook the game’s shortcomings then EDF is well worth a look. I would say renting first is your best bet although due to the long nature of getting all 1000 points means that a purchase is probably well worth it if you happen to like what you played in the rental period. There’s certainly some cool moments here and I think once played you might never look at an ant or spider in the same way again. Not for the squeamish.