|EDF is a tongue in cheek, end-of-the-world blast a-thon that in no way takes itself seriously, more content to just blow a ton of shit up, in increasingly fun ways|
I'll be honest, I absolutely hated this at first. You probably will too. It starts off so insanely poorly, you find yourself plodding on out of sheer unbridled comedy value alone. It's just awful
Then the weirdest thing happens. By around level 5 of its 53 total, you realise that for all its cheesiness, rough edges and laundry list of flaws...you're actually kinda having fun. Hmmm.
By mission 10 however, all that initial condescension has flat-out disappeared completely, replaced instead by sheer and undiluted jaw-dropping awe. If ever there was a grower of a game you see, it's this one.
|The previous EDF titles were released a couple years back on the PS2, but I can't say I ever laid eyes on 'em myself|
Let us back up for a second though; just what is Earth Defence Force? It's a third person shooter. It's the third in its series. And it's very, very silly. But intentionally.
It's also a budget-ware title. I snagged my copy brand new for a measly £17.99 in fact, and while it goes for a little more than that in your average high-street shop, expect to pay significantly less than your typical 360 offering. So far, so good.
In light of its low price tag though, don't expect Gears of War
-quality production values here. Setting sights more around the Xbox Live arcade region - albeit towards the upper end of the quality spectrum - will result in a far happier time for all, as EDF, at times, looks about as good as a PS2 game.
Animation is awful. Characters pop in laughably. There's slowdown aplenty. Voice acting is atrocious. There's zilch plot. You name it, EDF pretty much fumbles it. But again...with 20 odd sheets shaved off the asking price, one finds such issues far easier to swallow.
Oddly though, those same traits that so successfully suck on your first go, go on to give the game its own unique charm as it progresses. This is one big ol' B-movie right across the board, one in which story, plot, style and presentation go straight outta the window in favor of...BLOWING THE FUCK OUTTA GIANT MUTANT ANTS
Firmly routed in 1950s-era sci-fi monster movie territory then, you play a soldier of the titular Earth Defence Force. The game begins as you're called in to check out these massive UFOs that have begun orbiting Earth, and when I say massive, I exaggerate not either; these fuckers look like distant cousins of the Death Star.
Unsure initially whether such visitors are friend or foe, the question is promptly answered for you when the buggers start unloading thousands upon thousands of ginormous insects. As these alien monstrosities begin traipsing down the streets of our most prized Earthen cities - slaughtering innocents along the way and spraying their disgusting ant jizz in unison - the EDF is given the go ahead to open fire. And you pretty much don't stop for the next 20 odd hours.
Playground of Destruction
|It may not look like much for the most part, but when shit heats up, the game is bloomin' impressive in its own way|
EDF is the ultimate "blowing shit up with big fuck-off guns" game. The term "spray and prey" does no justice here though, "wipe out and laugh your arse off" would be more apt. Along with your endless swarms of enemies, locations are completely and utterly destructible too you see. This ability to blow up every single building and structure in the entire game is a pleasing and hilarious addition, in that while you often start out missions in these massive, huge metropolises encapsulated by skyscrapers, by the end they'll often look quite literally like nuclear bomb sights. Nothing but rubble, bodies and eerie silence in all directions. Kinda like Mercenaries
, but jacked up on meth. Ace.
Far more impressive than that though, are some of the enemies you go on to face. The sights and sounds on offer - particularly in the game's latter half - are pretty fucking astounding, to be frank. Don't get me wrong, technically the game's a joke. It looks like garbage. But the sheer amount of shit happening on screen is absolutely fucking amazing. When you see a swarm of UFOs - numbering well over the hundreds - filling the entire sky above you, while massive spiders and humongous robot walkers simultaneously pile down the streets with the sole intention of wiping out all of mankind...it's a truly shit spilling moment. In fact, EDF is an oh so rare game that has quite literally left me frozen on the spot...faced with such odds.
It's at such moments when the game feels totally justified in looking the way it does. In feeling so amateurish and sloppy. For holding back anything even vaguely resembling next-gen graphics. It becomes clear it's saving all the good stuff for what matters; chucking the entire freaking universe at you
It may not look like a next-gen game...but by golly, it sure is a next-gen experience
Big Friendly Giant
I can't stress enough how big some of these enemies are too. If you thought Shadow of the Colossus
had the exclusive rights to big, fuck-off baddies...then trust me, you ain't seen nothing yet. It's funny, 'cos as jaw-dropping as a gigantic swarm of massive spiders pilling outta the ground towards you is the first time you see it...you realise later how insignificant such sights are compared to facing, say, your first robot invasion a little later on.
These gigantic walking skyscrapers that explode in the most fantastic fountain of fire you've ever seen (one that literally fills your entire screen for a good 10 seconds flat), go on to be superseded by even bigger
foes moments later themselves too, and thus the cycle continues. When the game starts tossing multiple
such behemoths at you at the same time...it just gets beyond insane. You dunno whether to laugh, cry, or just stick a gun in your mouth.
|Initial guns are awful, but a good 150 more can be unlocked as you progress. Latter game weapons are breath-taking too|
Also, what starts off about as one dimensional a game's ever been, sure enough grows oddly deep as it progresses. Played on the harder difficulty modes - the only way to truly appreciate this game incidentally - the aforementioned showdowns become genuinely tense, not to mention illustriously epic. The game is no walk in the park in that regard, relying not just on balls-out reflexes on the part of the player...but surprising tactical skill to boot.
EDF boasts an alarming selection of unlockable weaponry with that in mind - a good 150 or so in total - including a ton of differing machine guns, missile launchers, sniper rifles and flamethrowers. There's a fuck load more that I'll avoid spoiling too. The rub being, you can only take two such weapons into battle at any one time.
Sussing out which weapons to take then, along with which vantage points to fight from and what sorta overbearing strategies to employ on the larger targets, becomes alarmingly thought-provoking stuff as a result. I've been known to spend hours upon hours retrying single missions over and over until cracking the underlying tactic required to beat 'em...and I never for one moment went into such a seemingly mindless (not to mention cheap arse) game expecting that
On the down-side, your squad mate AI is quite possibly the worst ever seen in a videogame, regularly shooting at walls, getting in your way, and even blasting you up the arse with rocket fire for no sane reason. To make matters even "cooler", you can't even direct the little shits. They just sorta follow you around, acting like retards. The vehicles are also vaguely broken and don't work at all for the most part, controlling like a bitch, and proving about as useful as a dead one. They might as well not even be there in all honesty, although the Battlefield-inspired ability to hop in and out of 'em as you so wish means they don't impact the overall experience as poorly as, say, the Quake 4 vehicular levels did. These are purely optional. Thank fuck.
|EDF is a humongously long game, with endless unlockables, tons of freakin' levels, and a 2 player co-op mode to boot|
Far worse than all that though, is the fact that the game's fun as hell 2-player mode - which allows you to blaze through the entire campaign with a buddy backing you up - is relegated solely to split-screen status here. Playing over LIVE would have made this title somewhat exceptional in my opinion - in that good old Crackdown/Gears of War kinda way - but alas there is absolutely nada on the online front in EDF. At all. Not even leaderboards or DLC.
A pity to be sure, as I would almost be willing to pay full-blown retail prices for this game if it had such a mode bundled in off the shelf. Almost.
With all that in mind then, the sub-£20 price tag feels just about right here. EDF is a fab, brainless, and utterly hilarious blast, and the best budget game released on pretty much any platform since Rockstar's Table Tennis. I'd say it's just as required as that beaut was back on release, but for completely different reasons. Humor lackers, and those only interested in the prettiest and most polished of titles need not apply, but those who play games for sheer fun factor alone? Who as a side bonus wanna see undoubtedly the most epic game made so far this gen? EDF delivers.
And it sure beats the crap outta Lost Planet