Earth Defense Force is a special series, one that only deserves my praise. It’s such a simplistic concept – one that hearkens back to days of yore when video games featured ridiculous storylines and the central focus was gameplay rather than cinematics and graphics. While Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space might not be the prettiest game on the Vita, it may be the funnest on the handheld.
Once thought to have been repelled from Earth, the Buggernaughts have returned to Earth to lay siege to your home planet. Giant insects, UFOs, towering robots, a dinosaur-like monster that’s totally not Godzilla; how will the human race survive this recent invasion? Through the Earth Defense Force (EDF)!
Packed with advanced technology ranging from automatic rifles with bullets that ricochet off of walls to energy-charged laser weapons to hover bikes, the EDF has what it takes to dominate the opposition! Do you have what it takes to enlist? Are you willing to lay your life down on the line for Earth? Will you massacre all those giant ants tunneling through the subways and underground of Tokyo? Can you even put a dent in not-Godzilla’s shell? Yeah you do! Wanna know why? Because you’re apart of the EDF!
While Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space may lack exposition aside from the short debriefing descriptions of missions, it’s all the better for it. You take on the role of a random soldier who’s enlisted in the EDF and that’s about all the information that you’re given. Gun in hand, you run headlong into the carnage that the alien invaders have left and attempt to save the human race from possible extinction! You’re occasionally met with snippets of dialogue heard through your radio that will either praise the legendary soldier who’s taken arms against the invaders, or from HQ, providing some context to your situation.
To those familiar with the genre, EDF takes after B-movies in that the characters, action, and scenarios are overly exaggerated; and EDF embraces and becomes a parody of the genre.
After a brief reading of the mission directives, you’re thrown right into the action – no cutscenes necessary. EDF’s story and setup, or lack thereof, is a refreshing one having come from recent games like Fallout 4 and various RPGs where narrative is central. If the game did have a story, it would either be a bore for the player wanting to jump right into the action or be a novelty. I’d honestly have it no other way than it is now: a fun game that remains entertaining no matter how many times you play it – a fun game that has no need for a proper story.
Whenever I seem to play an EDF game, I can’t seem to help but smile. I oftentimes found myself doing things so awesome that I would laugh to myself. Before partaking in a mission, you have the option of selecting one of three character types: the Infantryman, the standard soldier-type who uses various ballistic-based weaponry; the Pale Wing, valkyries who specialize in energy-based weapons that function under one universal energy reserve; and lastly, the Air Raider, tacticians who can place turrets on the ground, call in airstrikes, and wreak havoc on the battlefield at the expense of a longer reload speed. Each class is varied in playstyle and should you ever grow bored of one, there are two other to experiment with that are just as or even funner than the last. While the mission structure is not class-specific, and you’ll find yourself replaying missions for better guns and to increase your armor, being able to rain death on any flying enemies with a Pale Wing after experiencing difficulties hitting your marks with an Infantryman is really satisfying. Having to balance out your assault due to a limited ammo reserve or a long reload speed changes the way you’ll play and is a smart way of keeping players engaged for the 6 different difficulty settings.
Fighting off hordes of giant ants and spiders with advanced weaponry in Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space is a different story. Experiences may vary and anything can happen out on the battlefield. I recall a moment within my first hour of playtime where I was launched by an ant onto the back of another. Naturally, I wanted to see how the situation would play out so I dared not move from the back of the insect. What proceeded was beautiful: I showered my enemies with bullets as the ant scurried around. I was invincible! – until the ant eventually climbed a wall and I was dropped down into a horde of monstrous ants and eventually killed. Nevertheless, I was laughing all the while and enjoying myself. EDF offers nothing but mindless fun and for the price of $40 with the amount of content and it being portable, I’d say it’s well worth the money of anybody looking for a game they can pick up in bursts and have an absolute blast playing. The game has rightfully earned a permanent slot on my Vita’s memory card and I look forward to my future ventures as an EDF ranger.
What is worth mentioning however are the vehicle controls. While the entire scenario of aliens with armies of giant ants, robots and et cetera are no doubt unrealistic, the vehicles that Infantrymen and Air Raiders may enter handle rather realistically. It’s comical and whether or not this was intentional is left up to player interpretation, but it only adds to the absurdity of the game and further deepens my love for the series. It’s filled with so many quirks that may have hindered another game, but enhances the experience of EDF.
Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space is, as said prior, not the prettiest game on the Playstation Vita. The graphics are reminiscent to that of a PS2 game, but with what’s going on on-screen, I believe it to be excused of its graphical shortcomings. When in action, the screen is cluttered with hordes of enemies, particle effects from your weaponry, and buildings and other destructibles – yet, it usually stays at a steady FPS. An amazing feat for the Vita as a handheld and a worthy sacrifice made by the developers for a smooth and memorable experience.
The soundtrack in EDF might as well be nonexistent outside of the HQ menu. What there is is cinematic and fitting to the tone of the game. It captures the feeling of going into a movie theater to watch a B-movie and knowing that what you’re watching should not be taken seriously and that it’s all in good fun. It’s comical and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space is a journey that should be experienced by anyone and everyone who even has a slight appreciation for early film akin to that of the Godzilla movies. It brings me back to a time of simplicity and rejuvinates the tired soul after so many triple A ‘blockbusters’. While it may wear on you over extended periods of playtime, it’s still a worthy purchase even if played in between games or on a trip.
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