We’ve already covered one EDF game this week, which happens to be the most recent one. Ben was less than enamoured with it, he tried in vain to grasp what it is that has resulted in the series having a rather vocal fan base, but ultimately it just wasn’t for him. So its now up to me to give Earth Defence Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space a try, a remake of a remake from what I understand, being based upon Global Defence Force from the PlayStation 2 which was then re-released on the PSP as Earth Defence Force 2 Portable and now carries the aforementioned suffix �Invaders from Planet Space� for its Vita release.
Off the bat, it ticks a lot of boxes that are immediately attractive to me. I really rather like cheap B-Movies about alien invasions, I find their campiness to be rather endearing and the fact that this has a bit of a sprinkling of HG Wells’ War of the Worlds plus a coating of Kaiju and I should be in heaven really, but despite all of this the whole concept feels completely and utterly wasted.
The gist is that you are given a mission, this mission is usually to see off a wave of ridiculously sized insects or alien craft, all of which is set within the confines of a city with some recognisable monuments. London is quite clearly London, you can’t really miss Westminster and the Houses of Parliament whilst shooting down hordes of gigantic ants. Even so, the cities themselves are rather sparse and unpopulated, there’s no real agency to drive you on and prevent the invasion. You’ll occasionally get a handful of civilians trying to flee, but overall, it doesn’t feel like the emergency situation that’s playing out over the radio waves as you unleash lead into a bunch of jumping spiders.
That last point there sounds fun enough, but that’s literally all there is to it. Keep firing until your clip is empty, reload and carry on, keep doing so until you’ve cleared every red mark off of your radar, make sure you pick up as many dropped items as you can as you do so, then carry on to the next mission. There’s very little in the way of interactivity and it just makes the game feel like its in its very early stages of development (this isn’t helped by the visuals, but apparently one shouldn’t criticise EDF’s visuals…). It really does feel like the player should be given more to do, hell something like Burning Rangers on the archaic SEGA Saturn provides the player with more agency and that games older than my children’s ages combined! When you look at how the action genre has evolved it feels like there’s just too much missing from the core gameplay and EDF2 becomes a procession of doing the same thing again and again. None of the enemies require much in the way of a change of tactics, after the first wave of missions were done (in which you’re gradually introduced to a few different types of creature to kill) I was introduced to my first Kaiju. I was hoping that this would require me to focus on a weak spot or that I would have to think about the fact it was rampaging through what looked like a suburb and try and contain the damage, but it was yet another exercise of pumping as much ammunition as I could into the beast until it eventually fell and died. There’s not even an element of point scoring or leaderboards, and whilst there is a choice of difficulties on offer the only difference to them is just how much damage each creature takes before it eventually falls, which itself is nullified by the vast amount of near identical weapons that you can pick up for later missions as you play.
I’m actually kind of thankful I played this on the Vita, reading through Ben’s review its hard to not be appalled that he records issues of slow down when there’s a bunch of explosions on screen, the same thing happens in this release but is kind of more excusable because of the platform its on. It doesn’t become unplayable but it is noticeable, as is the fogging and pop-up which happens closer to the player than I think is acceptable. If Sandlot had have fixed that then the other stuff may have been a bit more excusable, because on this platform I can see its 5 minutes of game per mission being perfect, there’s no real need to be invested in long protracted cut-scenes and it’d almost work as a pick up and play whilst waiting for the kettle to boil (insert other short wait here). Its for this reason alone that I’ve scored this particular version of EDF a little higher than Ben’s PS4 review, because quite frankly, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the game itself.