Review by dancer62

Reviewed: 06/16/16

Earth Defense Force 2 Portable

Earth Defense Force 2 PSP

Brave Soldiers Vs. The Alien Horde

How often do you find a game that fires the imagination, that has such an appealing premise and such inviting gameplay that you are swept away? Have you ever wanted to be the hero of a monster movie, protecting civilians and fighting against overwhelming odds?

The EDF Deploys!

Earth Defense Force 2 for the PSP is a 2011 Japanese game, an enhanced remake of the 2005 PS2 game Global Defense Force. Although in Japanese language with minimal English, it is relatively easy to navigate menus and play the game with no Japanese reading skills. In 2015, the PSP version was enhanced for the PS Vita, with the addition of Air Raider, and received a North American English language release, but otherwise the same game. FAQs and gameplay are the same for the English and Japanese releases. You can also read my review for the Vita version: Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders of Planet Space.

if you have played an EDF game before, EDF 3/2017 for the Vita, EDF 4/2015 or Insect Armageddon for the PS3, or EDF 4.1 for the PS4, once again we're defending the Earth from hordes of alien invaders, with overpowered weapons, fleeing civilians, and destructible cities. This is my favorite kind of game, mission-based, lots of resources to collect, huge levels to run around in, story secondary to the action.

EDF 2 is a third-person shooter in huge destructible 3-D environments including cityscapes, suburbs, caverns and subway tunnels, countrysides, and beaches. It has two protagonists that are selectable from the beginning, the trooper known to EDF veterans as as Storm One, an infantryman with mostly projectile weapons; and Pale Wing, a flying female soldier with rocket belt and mostly energy weapons. Vehicles are available in some levels to Storm One, including tanks, hoverbikes, and helicopters. Vehicles, of course, would be redundant for Pale Wing.

78 missions, times five difficulty levels, times two protagonists, 780 missions to 100%. Hundreds of hours of gameplay. And an incredible addictive quality, just one more mission, or grind just a little bit more armor (hit points) or weapons. Suitable for marathon gaming sessions, or a casual few minutes grinding. A little more armor, or another weapon, never goes amiss.

A great variety of enemies, giant acid-spitting ants, web-slinging spiders, plasma cannon robots, Godzilla, MechaGodzilla, UFO gunships, dropships, motherships, hatching egg arrays, even more gigantic queen ants and spiders, manic crushing roly-polys and plasma spewing centipedes. The alien designs have a 1930s art deco look.

The enemies move fluidly, but the protagonists are awkward, with odd stilt-legged animation of Storm One and extremely weird gyroscopic wobbling of Pale Wing.

The downside of the enemy numbers and variety is that the framerate takes a huge hit with hundreds of enemies onscreen. The game is fun enough that this is entirely forgivable. Chug, chug, shoot and whittle down the numbers so the frame rate can speed up again. It's okay.

Weapons:

Weapon menus show icons for the type of weapon, and Arabic numerals for weapon statistics. Weapons all have tradeoffs of some sort, with increased power often comes reduced magazine capacity or increased reload times, so weapon selection suitable for a particular mission is vital. Experimentation is in order to determine the effectiveness of weapons, and suitability for different missions. Weapons tend to be satisfyingly overpowered, balanced by the necessity of taking down swarms of enemies or a few high-hit-point monsters.

Difficulty:

There are five difficulty levels available, Easy, Normal, Hard, Hardest, and Inferno. Easy in EDF does not necessarily mean literally "easy", but more like "possibly survivable with skillful play before gaining massive armor and weapon upgrades". You'll want to do a lot of upgrading before tackling "Normal" or higher levels. Higher levels also drop more powerful weapons, thus the addictive quality of the game. Always trying for more armor, more powerful weapons, to defeat more powerful enemies to obtain more powerful weapons to... There are a few levels where it's possible to trap enemies behind terrain features and potshot them at your leisure, thus getting more powerful weapons early.

Another part of the appeal of the game is the '50s science fiction movie flavor, a combination of Them!, War of the Worlds, This Island Earth, and Godzilla. Theremin-like music adds to the atmosphere. Acid spitting, fire breathing, death ray casting, city destroying, people-eating aliens deserve NO MERCY!

Graphics:

Graphics are average for a PSP game, decent detail balanced by a dull and muddy color palette and flat ugly textures. The game is enough fun that you quickly become accustomed to the graphics and don't notice the deficiencies unless reminded. In EDF 2, stairs are represented as textures, rather than polygons. The gameplay is addictive enough that you won't be disappointed by the graphics until you compare to its big brother, the Vita's much sharper, brighter, and more colorful EDF 2017.

The positive side of the graphics is the explosions, robot and UFO enemies die spectacularly in fireballs with yellow-red centers trailing off to red flames and gray smoke. Boom! Take that!

Vehicles:

Vehicles vary in usefulness, the powerful cannon of the tank can take down monstrous enemies quickly, the speeder bike is useful for racing around the battlefield grabbing pickups while being chased by giant ants, the helicopter can fly above terrain features to quickly get you to a strategic position. The tank and speeder bike are also useful underwater, handy for grabbing drops that fell in the water. The helicopter can also quickly take out the occasional last coy UFO that lurks at altitude beyond conventional weapon range. On the negative side, the tank is ponderous to turn, the speeder bike is amazingly difficult to steer and is as happy travelling sideways as forwards, and the helicopter's guns and rockets are difficult to aim. All vehicles are extremely fragile, too, two shots by enemies will leave you vehicleless. There are some nice little touches, like the dust thrown up by the tank treads, and the rooster-tail of sand thrown up by the speeder bike on the beach.

Strategy:

For a straightforward blast-a-thon, there are surprising subtleties. When all the aliens on a level are defeated,then you get the mission accomplished screen, a tabulation of drops gathered, and are returned to the mission hub. That means that you have to keep at least one enemy alive until you have gathered all the drops that you can. So, trade-offs, or running around trying to stay away from the last enemy while you grab all you can.

Some levels have multiple motherships or nests, guarded by insects and killer robots or UFOs. Most of the time, they will ignore you until you enter their range or attack them, allowing you do destroy one cluster of enemies at a time.

Another complication is the weapons capabilities, power vs. magazine size vs. reload time means that you have to allow for a few seconds without firepower while reloading, and a few seconds is a long time when you are being swarmed by a horde of 50-ton creepy-crawlers. Pale Wing has great mobility, fine for hit-and-run tactics, but her jetpack and weapons operate from the same pool of energy, taking time to recharge. Ranger/Storm One can carry two weapons and switch between them, as can Pale Wing. Some of the most powerful rocket, bomb, or energy weapons are prone to bounce or blow back and damage you if you're not aware of your surroundings.

Some levels lend themselves to a berserker forward assault, fight your way through the swarm of monsters, gathering healing, armor, and weapons along the way. Other levels, a fighting retreat, trying to stay out of range while thinning the ranks of your pursuers. Other levels, it's possible to find a terrain feature to trap the monsters behind, and kill them at your leisure.

For Harry, England, and St. George!

The London levels are amazing, Winchester Cathedral, Big Ben's tower, Parliament, it is with real regret than you smash them into rubble to open up your lines of fire to ambush killer robots. Buckingham Palace is not represented and seems to be safely situated out of the line of advance. The Thames offers opportunities to trap enemies, or, if you are careless, yourself.

Summary:

Earth Defense Force 2 Portable is a Japanese-only PSP remake of Global Defense Force for the PS2 that is fairly easy to play for non-Japanese readers. It offers addictive EDF gameplay, a great variety of enemies and environments, two protagonists with different weapons and fighting styles, huge destructible areas, several vehicles to play with, and neverending challenge. Pure gameplay, a sense of humor, and enjoyable 1950's sci-fi movie sensibilities make for a great experience on the PSP.

Pro:

Japanese language but import-friendly
huge variety of things to see and do
a challenge to develop strategies to obliterate the swarming hordes
great monster-blasting fun

Con:

muddy textures
framerate suffers with humdreds of enemies onscreen


Score: 8/10: Great!

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: Chikyuu Boueigun 2 Portable (JP, 04/07/11)

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