Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable Review
Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable Box Art
System: PS Vita
Dev: Sandlot
Pub: D3 Publisher
Release: January 8, 2013
Players: 1-4
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Animated Blood, Mild Language, Violence
Ender’s Shame
by Josh Wirtanen

Having to review an Earth Defense Force game is always somewhat awkward. You see, the EDF series has always been famously bad while still being legitimately fun to play. And that makes it a difficult thing to have to tack a numbered score onto.

This matter is more complicated by the fact that these games almost revel in being bad. This isn’t a case of, say, Black Ops: Declassified, where we’re led to believe that, at some point in time, someone started out with the intention of making a legitimately good game. But EDF is intentionally bad (or, at least this is the impression I got back when I talked to the guys at D3 Publisher about it), and that’s something different entirely.

Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable Screenshot

In fact, playing EDF almost feels like you’re being trolled by its developers, and anyone who gives an EDF game a terrible score is probably just bitter that they aren’t in on the joke.

So you can imagine the aneurism of existential dread that hit me when a copy of Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable slid across my desk and landed in my review pile. Now, I should point out that this isn’t a brand new game, but an upgraded portable version of the 2007 Xbox 360 game of the same title (minus the word “Portable” of course.) For the sake of full disclosure, I’ll be honest and say that I never did play the 360 version, though I did play Insect Armageddon with the folks at D3 a couple years back.

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So let me start by saying that if you’re looking for a serious triple-A blockbuster, or another example of games as art, you’re going to want to look elsewhere. If you’re looking for something that will kill your brain cells while you giggle like a schoolgirl and drool, then you might actually be interested in this. In fact, there’s another demographic that I think this game would truly be appreciated by: those in school for game development. You see, EDF stands as an example of exactly how not to make a game.

The premise is simple: You’ll embark on a series of missions as a part of the world-famous Earth Defense Force as you battle an army of giant bugs from space. Later on, you’ll even have to bring down UFOs and gigantic walking mechs. Yes, it’s absurd, but that doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining.

Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable Screenshot

It all has this campy feel, like a 1950s monster movie taken to the extreme. This fact is underscored by the voice acting, which is downright terrible. Not only does the dialogue feel like it was written by a five-year-old, but the voice actors deliver it with an ironic cheesiness that almost tops the early PSOne era. Remember how bad the original Resident Evil’s voice acting was? Well, EDF sounds just as bad. And to make it even worse, the ambient dialogue is randomized, more often than not causing soldiers to say things that don’t even make sense in the context of whatever’s happening on your screen. It’s gloriously bad.

The graphics don’t disappoint. By this, I mean they’re just as bad as any of the game’s other elements. The polygon counts are absurdly low, making the giant bugs look like monstrosities from the PSOne era and the playable characters look like lanky, deformed humanoids of some sort. Of course, the giant robots and flying battleships actually don’t look all that bad, which is really just more confusing than anything else.

Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable Screenshot

And the controls are terrible as well. Dear lord, they’re awful. Whoever decided to assign jumping to a shoulder button should either get fired (if they did this obliviously) or a massive pay raise (if they did this ironically). It’s a bad enough design decision to be legitimately hilarious. There are vehicles available to pilot in some stages—like mechs, helicopters, and hoverbikes—but you’ll most likely pass them by rather than try to figure out how to use them. You see, the controls for each vehicle are radically different, and they practically feel random in some instances. They’re so, so bad.


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