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Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space

Score: 81%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Sandlot
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Third Person Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

Some people embrace the idea that thereís something among the stars, while others shrug it off as nothing more than a mere fantasy. In Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders From Planet Space, weíll all be forced to accept the fact that weíre not alone in the galaxy. Yes, that includes you as well, skeptics.

Earth Defense Force 2 surprised me with its presentation, primarily because I never expected the PlayStation Vita to be rather capable when it came to running many games. The graphics arenít the greatest and are nowhere near what the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One bring to the table in that department, but for a handheld console, I found the graphical presentation to be fairly decent. The stages and characters are all in 3D, which might be a relief to many people who were expecting another 2D side-scrolling shooter. There isnít much interaction you can do with the background elements on each stage, but you can blow up the buildings if youíre feeling destructive. With that said, youíll probably end up doing it by accident while trying to eliminate the swarms of enemies. Donít feel too bad if you do, since itís easily replaceable.

Players probably wonít notice the soundtrack too much since itís mostly overpowered by the sound of radio chatter. Most of what you hear will be reports of whatís happening while youíre fighting or the sound of your allies, who are nowhere to be seen, might I add, being killed by the bugs. Youíll hear tracks in the background between the radio chatter and they really add a sense of impending doom to the whole invasion situation. The situation coupled with those tracks made me nostalgia trip back to the days of those old alien invasion movies. The soundtrack isnít much to write home about, but it does add to the atmosphere of the game and also reinforces the situation the world is in. Iíd say it does its job well.


Gameplay:

Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders From Planet Space is pretty easy to understand and jump into. Players select a mission and deploy to protect civilians from the evil aliens invading the Earth for the second time. The threat is giant bugs known as Buggernauts and no one knows where they came from. If you ask me, thatís just a cover up for someone screwing around in a lab and doing who knows what, but thatís just my opinion. Anyway, youíll be thrown into a town where a large horde of even larger bugs are running around. You can imagine how surprised I was when my enemy was not little gray bald men, but instead giant ants for the first few missions. The ants will usually do whatever they feel like doing, like climbing over buildings or chasing people. If they catch sight of you, theyíll generally run at you and try to harm you. To complete a mission, players must eliminate all enemies on the screen. After each mission completion, you are awarded weapons or armor to use. Not too difficult, but itís pretty horrifying having a large mass of giant ants swarming you until you die. I donít think Iíd wish that on my worst enemy.

The gameplay in Earth Defense Force 2 is also pretty simple. Players will move their character with the Left Analog Stick and adjust the camera with the Right Analog Stick. The Right Shoulder button allows players to fire their weapon and you can reload with the (Square) button. The (Circle) button allows you to switch between your weapons. The Left Shoulder button allows you to perform evasive maneuvers to reposition around your enemy or simply get out of a tight squeeze. Your character travels at a fixed speed, so youíll usually be trying to stay moving while keeping the enemy from piling on you. If they do, itíll be kind of difficult to get out of the situation since they continuously knock you into the air. Your health is represented by a gauge with a number underneath it on the left of the screen. As you take damage, the gauge drains until it hits the bottom and you die. You can retry the mission or simply back out and come back to it later. On the right side of the screen are your mini-map toward the top and your weapon information toward the bottom. Enemies show up as red dots on the mini-map while the green dots are power-ups and the white dots are civilians. The weapon information will show your currently equipped weapon along with a red bar showing how much ammo is in it. Once the red bar depletes, you must reload. Being strategic is an important part of war and youíll need to be on your toes to ensure that the Buggernauts donít overrun you.

The fun part of Earth Defense Force 2 would be the character classes. You can change which class you will deploy as and also customize your loadout for each class. In the beginning, your customization is limited, but as you complete missions, youíll unlock new items to slap onto each of your classes to use. Players can choose one of the three classes and they each have a different playstyle. The three classes are Infantry, Pale Wing, and Air Raider. You can have success with any of the three classes in missions and there isnít anything wrong with any class over another, so pick any class you like and have fun with it. Youíre able to upgrade each class at your pace by using them in battle, so play around with them and see which one best fits your playstyle.

Itís dangerous to go alone, thatís why you bring friends. Earth Defense Force 2 enables players to team up with their friends to tackle the Buggernaut threat. All you have to do is select the Multiplayer option from the Main Menu and start up a game. There are four different options players can choose from when setting up a multiplayer session: Online Co-Op, Online Rumble, Ad Hoc Co-Op, and Ad Hoc Rumble. For those who may not know, the difference between Online and Ad Hoc is that Online is over wifi, while Ad Hoc is playable when youíre all together in person. The Co-Op Modes allow players to tackle missions together while the Rumble Mode is a more traditional multiplayer where players can have fun battling against one another. Youíre even able to join other players who may be playing, and they show up on the room select when you select the mode. Thereís nothing wrong with making new friends on the battlefield.


Difficulty:

Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders From Planet Space has a number of difficulty settings players can choose from based on the challenge they wish to get from the game. There are five difficulty levels available from the get go and those are Easy, Normal, Hard, Hardest and Inferno. When you start a mission, the game asks which difficulty level you would like to select. Youíre free to pick any difficulty level you want, but they arenít just for show. Youíll have a harder time as you go up in difficulty, and I recommend starting on Normal if youíre new to the game. There is a pretty large benefit from playing on the higher difficulty settings, though. The higher the setting, the better the loot drops you will receive from slaying enemies. Be aware that the opposite is also true. If you try to play on Easy, you wonít receive much of anything in terms of loot and it doesnít really benefit your characters. Unless youíre really stuck on a level, Iíd recommend staying away from Easy and at least playing on Normal, but the choice is yours.

Game Mechanics:

Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders From Planet Space is by no means mechanically intensive, but there are a few things you should be aware of going into the game. The first is familiarizing yourself with how each of the classes operate. As I said previously, you may choose from one of three classes: Infantry, Pale Wing, and Air Raider. When you start the game, you may select the Weaponry option to change your classes and their weapons. Highlighting a class will cause the game to give you a brief introduction and description of that class so youíre not completely blind on their strengths. The Infantry class is the easiest to start the game with and also the easiest to understand. Itís a pretty basic class that is easy to get results with while you work to understand how to play the game. Infantry are able to equip two weapons, but they have a wide assortment of weapons at their disposal, such as assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles and rocket launchers. The Infantry may not be the most appealing class, but theyíre the best to get started with.

The Pale Wing class is a bit more difficult to understand than the Infantry, but theyíre rewarding to play once you understand the class. Unlike the Infantry who use conventional weapons, Pale Wings use special weapons based on the enemyís technology. They have a blue bar on the right side of the screen showing how much energy they have. Using their weapons will deplete this gauge, but it does refill over time. In addition, Pale Wings also have a jetpack they can use to fly around and gain vantage points on the enemy, but be aware that the jetpack also consumes your energy. Itís all too easy to run out of fuel in mid-air and drop to the ground, so pay attention to that bar. Many of the Pale Wingís weapons consist of specialized laser weapons and they are divided into different range classes. Pale Wingís do an absurd amount of damage, but theyíre a lot squishier than the Infantry, so be careful of your positioning at all times.

The Air Raiders are by far the most difficult class to understand in terms of playstyle and youíll probably get killed a few times just trying to figure out how their weapons work. Air Raiders hold the unique distinction of carrying three weapons into battle rather than the standard two. Their two primary weapons are unmanned sentries and sticky grenade launchers. You can place up to two sentries at a time which, when activated, will shoot down enemies with extreme prejudice. The key to success is placing your turrets strategically and using your other weapons to pick off any stragglers. Their third weapon is the ability to summon airstrikes which cause a devastating amount of damage to the area, but you need a certain amount of credits which are gained by killing targets in order to call for an airstrike. Air Raiders are amazing, but theyíre incredibly difficult to play. I highly recommend taking the time to learn them.

In a war against giant bugs, vehicles will be a vital asset. Each mission spawns different types of vehicles for the player to use and there are three different types of vehicles in the game. The first is the E551 Gigantus, which is a tank. Tanks are equipped with cannons which deal a heavy amount of area of effect damage, but they fire slowly. Make sure you watch where you fire with a tank, as the blast can easily destroy it if you fire point blank. This also goes for all explosion weapons. Itís an easy way to kill yourself. Anyway, the movement of a tank is much faster than running, so it is still an effective means of transportation. The next is the EF24 Bazelart, an attack helicopter. The helicopter never runs out of flight energy and comes with two machine guns, making them very effective at cutting down airborne and ground enemies. The final vehicle is the SDL2, a hoverbike. These things will get you around fast and they come with a cannon, making them efficient at dispatching ground enemies. Keep in mind that Pale Wings cannot pilot vehicles, only Infantry and Air Raiders. In addition to that, Air Raiders are much more efficient at piloting vehicles than the Infantry are. Donít forget that when you are selecting your class.

Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders From Planet Space is quite an interesting game to pick up. It doesnít do everything perfectly, but it does many things excellently. I really recommend grabbing this game if youíre starting to run out of things to play. Not only is it fun, but it has a ton of replay value when you think about all the missions and the multitude of difficulty levels you can try each mission on. Combine that with the three unique character classes and youíve got a game that will keep you busy for quite some time.


-SS-54, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ren Plummer

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