We spend a lot of time talking about the biggest and the best videogames here on The Bonus View. Just as with movies, it’s entirely possible to overlook some absolute gems if you’re only sticking with blockbuster titles. The Best Games You’ve Never Played will be a new semi-regular feature focusing on those games that you may not have had a chance with, but that are sorely deserving of attention. I’d like to start off with a personal favorite: ‘Earth Defense Force 2017’.
If you haven’t had a chance to play ‘Earth Defense Force 2017’ (or simply ‘EDF’), then you’ve been missing out on one of the most entertaining co-op shooters on the Xbox 360. In Japan, the game was a 2006 release for the 360. It hit the States in March of 2007. It’s an early title for the system, and that shows in every way possible. The achievements are awful and don’t get awarded to the second player, the controls are lacking, and it doesn’t look anything like current games on the system. The enemies in particular don’t look much better than they did in the last generation of videogames.
Despite all of the negatives, ‘EDF’ is still one of my favorites for the Xbox 360. I think it’s because the designers went into it with the sole intention of making a game that’s fun. There are no grand aspirations of a “cinematic” experience or a complex branching story here. It doesn’t even try to develop rich characters – or characters at all, for that matter.
‘Earth Defense Force 2017’ puts you in the shoes of an EDF soldier, defending against alien attacks. The aliens in this case look much like enlarged versions of Earth’s insect population, just like in old sci-fi movies. In each level, you’re tasked with taking out whatever’s coming down to the Earth.
The level design isn’t anything remarkable. In almost every instance, you’ll be in a city with enemies dropping down from ships. Sometimes you’ll be in a cave, but mostly you’ll be outside in a city. The nice thing about the city is that all of the buildings can be destroyed.
The game’s destruction mechanic is unsophisticated. A single rocket will level an entire building in most cases. But who ever said that we needed complexity and realism to have fun?
In fact, that’s the whole appeal of ‘EDF’. It’s pure and simple fun. Take rocket launcher, blow up giant ant. Lay mines, blow up spiders. Fun.
Whatever you do, don’t play ‘EDF’ alone. As a single player game it’s repetitive and dull. When played in co-op, though, ‘EDF’ blooms into something special.