The lights are on
I have trouble watching tongue-in-cheek B movies. You know the type: Modern films intentionally constructed to emulate the vibe of low-budget sci-fi flicks of the '50s. One of the reasons those movies fall flat for me is that they lack a critical component: earnestness. Being campy doesn't work if you're trying to be campy. It has to come from someplace genuine. The same theory applies to games, and that's what makes Earth Defense Force 2017 so great. The developers at Sandlot clearly want to tell a story about humanity's struggle against giant invading ants and robots, and the passion for that story shines through despite its technical shortcomings.
Some people have described EDF as "so bad it's good," but I disagree. I gave the game a 7 when it first released (which I think, despite my affection, is still a fair score). In terms of technical execution, EDF fails to make a good first impression. The graphics are dated, the collision is all sorts of broken, and many of the unlockable weapons are comically useless. However, my problem with saying EDF is "so bad it's good" is that it isn't the bad stuff that makes it entertaining. Beneath the general lack of polish is a terrifically fun game that is rooted in a simple premise: shoot tons of aliens and save the world. It distills pure arcade-style action and – with the addition of unintentionally funny dialogue – captures that elusive B-movie charm.
As Storm 1, the personality-free leader of Storm Team, you fight off the Ravagers (who are assigned their unflattering name before committing a single hostile action). Armed with an assortment of improbable rocket launchers, lasers, grenades, and machine guns, your goal is usually to kill all the Ravagers in a level. However, Ravagers aren't just a single species; they're a combination of robot and insect creatures. Some ravagers fly. Some live in underground tunnels. Some are skyscraper-sized bioweapons. Whatever form they take, you want to shoot them and then collect the random weapon drops they sometimes leave behind. This video is a perfect example of what to expect from the action:
It's not complicated. Pretty much every level plays out like that. The scenery may change – ranging from downtown Tokyo to sparse countryside – but Storm 1's main job is basically to kill every alien he sees until someone tells him the mission is complete. The variety of weapons is staggering. You aren't just getting damage upgrades; you might find a machine gun that somehow shoots bullets in a v-pattern, or a grenade launcher that fires 20+ explosives that bounce around wildly before detonating (Warning: Be careful using that weapon in caves!). These unique guns are a driving force behind your progression: Storm 1 may want to save humanity, but as a player, you mainly just want to collect more cool weapons.
You aren't alone in your quest to stop the Ravagers. Not only can you play with a co-op partner locally, but Storm 1 frequently is working alongside AI-controlled soldiers. These warriors are easily overcome by Ravagers (especially the perpetually endangered Ranger Team), and their frequent deaths and shouts of alarm add a splash of (probably unintended) comic relief to the experience. When they survive, they're even more entertaining, since they shout taunts at the Ravagers like "Do you like the taste of my bullets?" and "Why don't you go back home to space?", all between intermittent chants of "EDF! EDF!" Their ineptitude serves another purpose: by being such awful soldiers, they make Storm 1 seem like a god on the battlefield. Despite the fact that he never says a word, Storm 1 feels like a real hero by the end of the final mission – mainly because he's the only EDF soldier who is able to get anything done.
I had a hard time settling on which of favorite cult classics to write about for this feature. I think Valkyria Chronicles is the most criminally underrated game of this generation. Deadly Premonition has one of the best stories (and most compelling characters) of any game I've ever played. I also wish Asura's Wrath would get the recognition it deserves. But as much as I love those games, EDF perfectly fits the textbook definition of a cult classic: It has some glaring flaws, which might make it seem funny at first. However, it gets its hooks in you the more you play, and you eventually stop laughing at the game and start laughing just because you're having a great time.
If none of that makes you want to play EDF 2017, I'll just leave you with this video showing the game's strongest weapon (tastefully called the "Genocide Gun") in action.
Email the author Joe Juba, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.
This is my favorite choice of the day, fantastic experience.
Never played EDF and honestly, never felt enthralled too. Looked like a fun series, just not my type I guess.
Lol my friend and I rented this a while back when we were just looking for some games to try and we had a blast with this! It was very laughable which made it all the better but there was a certain amount of skill and strategy involved in this. It was one of the hardest games I've ever played though.
Yes! Incredibly glad to see this made the list. You pretty much hit the nail on the head Joe with why this game is such an under-rated gem. Earth Defense Force 2017 managed to pull me in so much that somehow I managed to beat every level on all difficulties...and trust me, if you're looking for a challenge, or love challenges, try to do this outside of co-op...it's HARD.
There's only one achievement for this game that still eludes me, and it's due to one of the incredibly rare weapon drops. Someday when I can finally afford a new Xbox 360 (mine red-ringed a long time ago), I will fully conquer this gem and add it to my gamer belt.
On my current gen cult classic list would be Metro 2033, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, Singularity, Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, and Earth Defense Force 2017.
This game is too much fun for words. I can't even begin to express how addictive this game is. It's so addictive that I bought it for the 360, played the crap out of it, gave my copy away to a friend who played the crap out of it, bought another copy and played the crap out of it more, and then bought a Vita when I heard it was coming to the platform so I can play the crap out of it on the go.
I've probably put over 2000 hours into this game and I haven't gotten bored yet. Whatever you do, don't buy Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon. It's an embarrassment to the franchise. Stick with EDF: 2017 and you can't go wrong.
This game was the inspiration for my name here. :-) Needless to say, I think this game is freaking amazing.
Awesome. Definitely one of my favorite games of all time. My step dad and I played the crap out of this. We even got all of the achievements for it. That was 5 years ago and I still put it in and play it every now and then.
Asura's Wrath was amazing, but I can't deny how much fun I had with EDF. The fact that they would prefer going over-the-top instead of going small to preserve the frame rate just makes the game more memorable. Nowadays I don't think about the 10 frames per second at the last boss, but how completely insane it was.
I absolutely love this game! Glad you guys picked it, it deserves the recognition.
I am enjoying the Vita game.
This is one of my favorite games EVER!! It's a right of passage to get that Genocide Gun. Playing through all 50 levels on insane is well.....insane. It's like Dark Souls hard even before Dark Souls was out. The satisfying feeling of completely wiping the bugs off the face of the planet is so much fun. Watching em fly 50 stories high then hit the ground or just completely disappear is all worth it.
Now unlike Joe I love my B Movies (nothing wrong with Joe). I own a ton of em. The cheesiness is a stupid draw in for me. I can't get enough of it. This game is like a love letter to B movie & sci fi fans alike. Think Starship Troopers with the campiness of Sharktopus. This is how you do stupid fun. I mean when you jump the characters knees dont even bend lol. If there are too many bugs on screen the frame rate tanks. EDF 2017 is one game you don't take seriously & that's how it's made to be played. If you're old enough grab some beer & a friend & play couch co op through the whole thing. If not still grab a friend & play through it. You'll be dying from laughter 10 minutes into it. The amount of goofy combinations of 200 + weapons you get makes sure you never have the same play through.
EDF!! EDF!! EDF!! EDF!! EDF!!