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Zadzooks: Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable review (PS Vita)

Save the planet while exterminating really big bugs

- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 13, 2013

Owners of Sony’s greatest mobile-gaming machine visit the future and find themselves in an outrageous battle to save their planet from the alien Ravagers in Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable (D3Publisher, reviewed with PlayStation Vita, Rated Teen, $39.99).

Offering a remastered version of the 2007 classic third-person shooter originally built for the Xbox 360, the game arrives on the PS Vita and features firefights against massive insectoids and robots that look plucked from any Japanese Sci-fi movie.

Controlling a member of the Earth Defense Force, a player works through over 50 missions (with seven newly added) alongside a squad of comrades while collecting and using more than 150 possible weapons and upgrades to stop the invasion.

While wielding such firepower as flame throwers, shotguns, rocket launchers and grenades, the soldier roams the streets carrying a two-weapon maximum to clean out rampaging spiders, ants and take down UFOs and bipedal robots.

He can even enter vehicles including an air bike, tank, helicopter and a solo battle machine mech called a Vegelta.

Devilishly destructible environments (buildings fall with one, well-aimed rocket), desperate or bragging chatter among the soldiers, a soothing female narrator with color commentary and overwhelming hordes of hissing enemies made me feel caught in Paul Verhoeven’s cheesy 1997 cinematic spectacle “Starship Troopers,” especially as I launched a guided missile into a swarm of giant, acid-spitting ants.

New to the 2017 universe is the ability to unlock the jet packed warrior Pale Wing (just beat the game, good luck with that) who can take to the skies. This female member of the EDF hovers and reigns fire down upon the invaders.

As you might assume, the war against these Ravagers get more ferocious the deeper a player gets into the game with lethal robotic monstrosities such as mechanical dinosaurs and a mobile, multifunctional Fortress proving to be just brutal. Battle warriors should also try the painful difficulty level Inferno for an extreme challenge.

In addition to extra missions, what’s also new to the title is four-player online co-operative and versus modes. Once I actually connected with multiple Vita owners, it was mindless, laugh out loud fun teaming up and literally razing a city during our extermination exploits, always thanks to the enormous firepower eventually afforded.

Unfortunately, players are still struck with graphics that take them back right to 2007.

Furthermore, with the amount of amazing games available across many a computer tablet the days that often sell for an incredibly cheaper price (even a couple of bucks), I can’t imagine what made the publisher try to soak the very select PS Vita crowd out of $40 for essentially a five-year-old game.

Still, Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable delivers B-movie-grade, bug extermination at its best and could be the perfect, niche addition to one’s select PS Vita library.

Note: Download the game before Feb. 4 and receive four extra weapons and tech for free. Specifically, the Heat Blaster (short range laser gun), Electro Paralyzer (enemy freezing shell launcher), Reverse Drone (a bot that heals soldiers with nanomachines) and the Limit Booster (a data transmitter that unlocks a vehicle’s maximum firepower). After Feb. 4, the price for each is 99 cents.

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