A little while ago, I reviewed Earth Defense Force 4.1 for the PlayStation 4, giving it high marks due to its sheer entertainment. No, its visuals and set-up won’t win any game of the year awards, but when it comes down to brutally saving the world from an alien invasion, it gets the job done. Can’t argue with that.
The same goes for Xseed’s other Earth Defense Force release for the holiday season, Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders From Planet Space for the PlayStation Vita. This is obviously a much more condensed game than 4.1, due to the limitation of the hardware, but it’s still all about killing bugs, giant robots and whatever else gets in your path as you fight to save the world. Sure, you may level a few buildings in the process (with one shot from a rocket launcher, no less), but it’s all for the sake of humanity, right?
Even in its condensed form, Earth Defense Force 2 manages to impress due to its epic scale. Each stage has a lot of room to roam around and kill whatever gets in your way, using a variety of weapons that you unlock over the course of the game. It’s also neat how the game throws in massive structures that you can chip away at, including what appears to be a large, grotesque hive with giant wasps consistently flying out of it.
This game isn’t built on exploration, though – it’s a matter of destruction. Sandlot, the developers behind the series, keep most of the EDF principles intact with this sequel, packing on as much excitement as possible as you fire into hordes of bugs and put down giant robots with a few well-placed shots. It’s still a lot of fun, even if it does get a little repetitive over time – this is a game that probably would’ve benefitted from some melee combat, like using a sword on a bug that gets a little too close for its own good. At least the various classes are worth experimenting with, whether you’re fighting on the ground or, like us, in the air (with a scantily clad warrior, natch).
One thing you’ll notice with Earth Defense Force 2 is that the graphics aren’t quite as good as previous efforts. Even the original Earth Defense Force 2017, which came out a couple of years ago for the PS Vita, looks slightly better by comparison.
That said, the game still looks pretty good, especially when it comes to the creature design, which can be a little different from previous EDF games. The robots, for instance, don’t look nearly as menacing as they did before, but still come across as fun, science fiction-based enemies that deserve to be plowed with bullets. Plus, for a Vita game, the destruction level is about on target, as buildings shatter and crumble to the ground efficiently enough. EDF fans won’t find too much to complain about here.
On top of that, the audio continues to do a solid job of delivering on the whole EDF experience, between the cheesy commentary from their cohorts (like how they break out in song while the alien invasion keeps happening) and the Independence Day-ish music score that plays in the background.
While Earth Defense Force 2 lacks the smoothness of previous versions of the game, fret not. It more than makes up for the game in replay value, between its abundantly strong (and chaotic) multiplayer (for up to four friends locally), as well as the variety of content and missions you’ll find throughout the game. We’re talking stuff well into the dozens.
You find weapons within the game by collecting crates left behind by enemies that are defeated, along with health power-ups and necessary armor. These weapons can vary, ranging from a shotgun with a nice blast range to a missile launcher that can devastate multiple buildings in one shot. Yeah, and the aliens are the monsters, right?
This helps push the game further than expected, even though the gameplay, again, never rises above “kill everything and then go do it in the next zone”. That said, those of you seeking a good game to play for your PS Vita this holiday season (and we know your choices are limited) won’t be disappointed with this one.
And how can Space be a Planet, anyway?
While Earth Defense Force 2 could’ve used a slight bit more gameplay diversity and preppier visuals, what remains is a delightful alien-slaughtering action game that PS Vita owners won’t want to be without this holiday season – especially considering how slim pickings are right now.