Thank you XSEED Games for sending us this game to review!
The Earth Defense Force is an elite military unit tasked with saving humanity from the alien invasion using extreme force. This usually ends up being in the form of lots of explosions. With a plot and presentation similar to a cheesy B-movie, it is far from a serious game, and has earned for itself quite the cult following.
Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space (sometimes called EDF) is a remake of the second game in the series, and the first time North America has had this game. While there technically is a plot, it's pretty much irrelevant: your job is to blow up the bad guys. All of them. And without any concern for collateral damage.
In many ways, this is a very pure game in its simplicity. No complex plot, combat, enemies, or what have you. It's a third person shooter, where you see over the shoulder of your character, and you just kill swarms of enemies, while watching for pickups that they often drop on death. And sometimes there are many dozens of enemies to fight. The enemies drop health, armor, and weapons. It is in the weapon drops where the real depth of this game is, and each class is uniquely useful.
There are three classes, the Infantry, Pale Wing, and Air Raider. Each of these has a specialization. The Infantry are the tanks, such that they have lots of hit points, and a whole lot of weapon variety. They can use vehicles that are available in the level, but otherwise only travel on foot. They are great for beginners, and where constant firepower is desired (which is most of the time). They are always a solid asset.
The Pale Wing is a female only class that differentiates itself in one big way: flight. They wear special light weight jetpacks that allow them very nimble movements, but at a cost: they have very light armor. As such, they are really susceptible to attacks, and can easily kill themselves if a plasma shot explodes too closely. But they are a ton of fun to play, because their shots do some solid damage, and flying around and dodging shots is just fun no matter what. Their biggest catch is that they have to manage energy; their jetpack and most weapons use the same power source, so energy management is key. There is little worse than being surrounded by bugs but being only able to watch them kill you as you wait for energy regeneration.
The Air Raider is a very powerful but multiplayer focused class. They do not attack enemies themselves directly, but instead call upon vehicles and air strikes. Air strikes are... awesome. But without cover fire from a friend, it can be a real challenge to survive in between actions. It's an advanced class that is certainly rewarding if you get a good partner. Speaking of friends, multiplayer is a total blast to play. You can play with up to four players in ad hoc mode, or online. We have two PS Vitas and one PS TV, and we were all able to play together, and it was a ton of fun.
Other than just the various classes, wacky enemies, and frantic action, the other main draw to keep coming back to this game is the many varied drops, especially weapons. Armor drops increase your max hit points; it goes up based on how many you pick up on each level. But weapon drops are the real hook. Depending on your map level and difficulty level, drop can vary in power significantly. There are tons of different weapon types, as well as levels for the weapons themselves. And, each class has to be powered up individually. So, if you make a very powerful Infantry class, but start to want to level up an Air Raider, be prepared to go back to much earlier levels to do so until you are buffed up on both weapons and armor to be able to handle later levels.
On easy and normal difficulties, the enemy counts are relatively light. As you go up to hard, hardest, or inferno, you better be ready. After about fifteen missions, I thought it would be fun to try the first level on hard, as I was hoping to score some really powerful guns. Not gonna happen. Things really ramp up fast, and you have to be ready – and more skilled. The opportunity cost when you miss a shot if there are swarms of them crawling over each other trying to get to you can be quite significant if you are waiting for a reload or for energy to return.
During your time blowing things up, you often hear voices and announcements over the intercom, which are sometimes quite humorous. You also occasionally may hear the Infantry units shouting 'EDF! EDF! EDF!'. The voices will sometimes say other things less appropriate, including words like 'b*st*rd', 'd*mn', 'h*ll', and 'sh*t'. This, along with the music and sound effects, keep tensions high as you try to wipe out the invasion with prejudice. There is enemy blood, but mostly in the form of brown (or perhaps orange or yellow) splashes. If it wasn't obvious, there is plenty of violence, especially weaponized (guns, cannons, etc.) as you blow the baddies to bits. The Pale Wing also wears a miniskirt.
After seeing some pre-release information about Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space, I was really hoping for the chance to review this, and I'm glad I did. I do prefer the PlayStation 4 EDF game we also are reviewing, EDF 4.1, but this is a very solid entry, and a great portable experience if that is what you are looking for. Each session isn't typically more than about ten minutes long, which works great for the portable format. The graphics are very good for the Vita, and it's quite simply cheesy fun. If B-movie violence and the occasional PG-13 curse word is acceptable to you, I highly recommend Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space. I think you'll be surprised, like I was.