Just blow up the damn building!
It was only the third mission, but my diminutive hero had already had enough of these damn bugs and the damn city they were crawling all over. The fastest way to exterminate the alien threat wasn't to run around the building and spray the ants with my machine gun. It was blowing the building up and catching the aliens as they fell to the ground.
My patience with Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable was already wearing thin, but this attitude helped to keep me entertained long enough to write this review. If there was anything of value in Sandlot's Vita port of the 2006 360 shooter, it had better come quick or there wouldn't be anything left of civilization to save.
EDF 2017 Portable, like its console brethren, pits players against an invading alien horde. The aliens themselves look a lot like ants… towering, twitchy, get-the-hell-off-my-planet ants. Of course, being an advanced alien race, they also have a host of UFOs, towering mechanical suits, and even a few big brothers. Your mission, should you choose to play this game (you shouldn't), is to kill all of them. You won't be allowed to progress to the next mission unless you do, so hold down that right trigger and never let go.
If this sounds like an off-the-wall premise, it's because it is. EDF is not a series that takes itself too seriously, so players are likely to laugh in an alien's face than run in fear or even find much challenge in their first playthrough. What's more, the campy plot and repeated radio dialogue really serve to drive the point home: You're playing a silly video game about shooting lots of stuff.
When I blew up that soft, gooey building just to get to the crunchy alien coating, three soldiers shouted "Woah" in identical tone and intonation. In another level, the ants successfully squashed a squadmate who promptly grunted "Ugggghhhhh" as his body slowly faded from view.
Unfortunately, all of that humor and repetitive gameplay grows stale over the course of 60 missions set in various locales around Japan. I was only half-amused to begin with, but there are too many missions where you'll repeat the exact same action as in the previous mission. See a red dot on your map, go to it, shoot it, move on to the next dot. Lather, rinse, repeat.
EDF's campy budget heritage shines through a little too strongly in 2017 Portable. That's probably not going to turn fans of the series away or even dissuade those of us (all of us) desperate for anything to play on the PlayStation Vita, but I implore you to think twice. The wealth of different weapons, missions, and enemy types can't make up for the way this shooting gallery does so little to excite the player. Even flying around levels with a jetpack can't stave off the inevitable. You'd be correct in assuming that playing the game cooperatively with up to three friends makes it a lot more fun, but the seamless online multiplayer couldn't keep me from suffering from one bug I never want to catch from a video game: boredom.
EDF 2017 Portable's graphics look bland and completely unrepresentative of the Vita's processing power. Your character, the hero of the entire world, the lone defender capable of fighting off this alien threat, looks like every other NPC on your team and upgrading your armor and weaponry does little to dress him up.
If you're like me, you'll run out of patience well before you get to the end of the game. If you're not like me, you'll have to pay for this game. Unfortunately, EDF 2017 Portable has also launched with a completely un-self-aware price tag of $39.99. The original Xbox 360 version was a budget release. Why does the Vita port run full price?
When I started Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable, I was looking forward to a charming, if uninspired, shooter for on-the-go action. What I found was just the uninspired part. Fans of the series will certainly find a lot to love, but the uninitiated should steer clear. As playable games go, Sandlot and D3 have packed plenty of gameplay in, but the charm quickly fades and all your left with is more invading ants.