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Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable
Score: 70%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: D3
Developer: Sandlot Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1; 2 - 4 (Online)
Genre: Action/ Third Person Shooter/ Online

Graphics & Sound:
Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable delivers exactly what you'd expect from a game with its title. If you ever wanted to take EDF on the road with you, here's your opportunity. If you've never played one of these games before, it's shallow, mindless, and strangely addictive. My only real problem with this release is that it's entirely too expensive for a game that doesn't come close to realizing the Vita's potential.

Earth Defense Force 2017 and its sequel Insect Armageddon were neither technically nor artistically impressive when they were released on the Xbox 360, and this Vita release is not out to change anyone's expectations. The visuals are not offensive, but if you're hoping for something to showcase the raw power of the Vita, your expectations are seriously misplaced. Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable is graphically identical to its predecessors: giant bugs and robots roam the cityscapes that are your battlefields. Buildings crumble and collapse into nothingness. Things get a little sketchy as they get farther and farther away from you: buildings go from erect to completely nonexistent in just a few frames, and the run cycles of your fellow soldiers resemble something straight out of Gumby. But as long as you're paying attention to what's directly in front of you, the action is fluid and unrepentantly goofy.

Camp is the backbone of Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable, and the audio design reflects that. The panic of the alien invasion is palpable, though you might not totally buy into the arm-flailingly over-the-top expression of that panic. But it's okay; this game is obviously inspired by cheesy monster movies from the 50s and 60s, and those pictures didn't exactly capture the gravitas of the human reaction to world-shaking cataclysmic events. But the true weak link of the sound design is the explosion and weapons effects. This is true of all the EDF games, and it's true here. So overall, not too impressive from a presentation standpoint.

Giant bugs and robots are invading Earth! Kill them! How's that for a story in this age of shooters? Well, it's almost no story at all. But come on, it's Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable! All you're supposed to know is that we're being invaded by a bizarre aggressor that is, to put it mildly, unfriendly. Your job is to be a little bit more unfriendly to them without really caring about what happens to the world you're trying to save. So you'll traverse a variety of similar cityscapes, blasting mutated freaks and assorted B-movie rejects with extreme prejudice. Is a giant ant crawling around on a building that may or may not contain innocents? Who cares? Bring that mother down. As you clear out enemies, your waypoint continually updates, shuttling you along to the next batch of bad guys until you're done with the mission.

Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable is absolutely loaded with missions, and you can tackle them on your lonesome or with others. It's always fun to play with others, but the action in EDF is a bit too mundane to accommodate one of the most basic joys of cooperative play: instances of emergent wackiness. Enemies never behave bizarrely (even for giant bugs) enough for the experience to feel like something wholly new every now and then. Don't get me wrong: it's fun to blast bugs and bots, but its staying power is limited.

As long as you know how to keep your distance and stay moving, you shouldn't have a rough time with Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable. There's a broad spread of difficulty settings, each of which governs the toughness and ferocity of the invaders. Still, regardless of setting, you're going to want to stay out of the way. If you get overwhelmed, fighting your way out of a mob can be tricky.

If there's one rule to Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable, it is that crowd control is a must. Try to keep your enemies bunched up in crowds so you can easily mow them all down. If you can keep them in the same relative area, all you'll need to do is point and shoot. Take out the most powerful baddies first if you can. Once that's done, you can pick off the weaklings with relative ease.

Game Mechanics:
Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable is boilerplate third person shooting. If you've ever played a third person shooter in your life, you won't have any problem getting into the action. Seriously, this game is as basic as it can get. There's not much more to the core action other than moving, aiming, and shooting.

The tropes of modern shooters are nowhere to be found here, save for looting. As your enemies fall to your superior firepower, they will drop stuff. Picking that stuff up will invariably help you in your continuing fight, whether it's weapon powerups, health replenishment, or armor bonuses.

Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable is mind-numbing silly fun, but as of this writing, it comes at a cost that is too steep. $39.99 isn't nearly the cost of a fully-priced Vita release, but it's still too much for a game like this. If you're a diehard fan of the series, by all means, go for it. If you're not, try one of the home console releases first; they're bound to be cheaper, and you'll get a very good idea of what you'll be getting in portable form.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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