One of my favorite, B-movies is Them!, in which mutated ants grow huge and attack innocent people. It is hilarious, not even remotely scary, and I say it should be recommended viewing for anyone who claims to enjoy bad movies. Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable is the dream game for anyone who grew up with and loves these kinds of movies. Giant ants again threaten the Earth, this time because aliens brought them, and players have to do some exterminating.
Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable‘s story is pretty simple. Earth finds out aliens are heading towards our lovely planet. They get together a troop of soldiers, called the Earth Defense Force, just in case the aliens aren’t friendly. Then, in 2017, the aliens appear. They show up, open a giant hole in the bottom of their ships and start dumping out gigantic, acid spewing, man-eating ants.
Yes, the mysterious Ravager aliens looked at Earth and decided it would make the perfect alien ant farm.
The goal of the Earth Defense Force is to defeat the ants and send the Ravagers packing. Players start out as Storm 1, a generic male soldier, but eventually get the option to play as Pale Wing, a female soldier with a jet pack, after beating the game. This is accomplished with oodles of weapons. Earth’s salvation is divided up into bite-sized missions that typically take five to ten minutes to beat. Players pick two weapons for Storm 1, head into a mission and shoot down lots of ants at whichever of five difficulty levels they want. The ants aren’t particularly smart, which is fine because there are usually so many that they don’t have to be. If 15 giant ants that are 3x the size of your character have you surrounded, then that’s challenging enough.
What makes Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable so lovely is how crazy it is. These ants are huge, trying to bite you or shoot some acidic, armor-destroying substance from their stingers. They also somehow managed to pick up first aid kits, armor packs and weapons on their ransacking adventure. Each time you kill one, it might drop an item. The health is nice, but the armor that permanently increases your health and the weapons, which unlock a random weapon after the mission is over, are even better.
I ended up using Mission 7, Takedown, for 20 minutes on Inferno to grind for weapons. Prior to that, I played that mission on Easy for 15 minutes to grind for armor drops. I’ve found the weapon quality seems to go up if a mission is played on a higher difficulty. That mission is perfect since the UFOs constant drop more ants. Just take out one UFO, then follow around the other, wiping out the ants it drops for their sweet, sweet bonuses.
Some people may not get the same joy out of the game as I have. See, I like ridiculous games. This means Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable was a delight. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t incredibly gorgeous or polished. Having a legion of gigantic ants coming right at me is an absolute joy. The only thing better was when the ants would bounce as their dead bodies hit the ground.
Yes, you heard me right. If you fire at an ant that’s crawling up a building or freeway, its carcass will bounce when it hits the ground. Sometimes, if you’re really lucky, it will bounce more than once making Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable feel more like a game where a kid is playing with toys than some super serious, save the world from an alien insect invasion mission.
Wait, I take it back. There’s something that makes Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable even better is playing it on the easiest difficulty level possible. Do that and you are a god. Nothing can stop you. Unless I got really sloppy and ran up to an ant, begging it to eat me, I’d win. Of course, I did that anyway once. Just because I could and it seemed like it’d be fun to get up in there and fight my way through a mobs. Doing so allowed me to see the ants have fangs. I didn’t know space ants had teeth. They’re fierce!
There’s also the Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable multiplayer to savor. There are online competitive and cooperative modes. I enjoyed the cooperative multiplayer most, since all 60 missions from the main campaign are open to play with up to three other people. It’s so much more fun to play with other people who are all also trying to attack the ants, as opposed to the AI characters who repeat the same quips and often fire at air. Competitive just means every soldier for him or herself, so I strongly encourage playing coop instead.
However you do ultimately decide to play, be it alone or with friends, on an easy difficultly level or hardest, Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable is campy fun. It’s absolutely ridiculous. Don’t take it seriously—don’t even think about it. Just enjoy the game for what it is: a crazy free-for-all where you can grab all kinds of weapons, both realistic and unimaginable, and go after huge ants and alien ships either alone or with friends. It won’t be as gorgeous as some Vita games, but it is amusing.
Food for Thought
1. I wish Pale Wing wasn’t locked until you beat the game with Storm 1. It would have been nice if Sandlot had used a Konami code or something on the start menu to unlock her early for people who had played before.
2. Some forewarning with missions would have been nice. I had to restart a mission where I had to shoot down UFOs because I didn’t have a weapon with a long enough range equipped.
3. Destroying buildings is hilarious and I wholeheartedly condone and encourage it.