Earth Defense Force AKA Monster Attack PS2 [REVIEW] | Thus The EDF Fought

As we wait for the western release date of EDF 6 (which came out in Japan last August), let’s go all the way back to the beginning, with the original Earth Defense Force on PS2.

Unlike EDF 2 which got an enhanced port on PS Vita, the original Earth Defense Force still remains a PS2 only game, one that americans didn’t get, as the first EDF was only localized in PAL territories as Monster Attack and distributed by Agetec in… lets say limited numbers, since today finding an original copy can be fairly pricey, if you find a PAL copy to begin with, instead of the many cheaper japanese PS2 copies floating around the net.

I did manage to get a used PAL copy under 30 bucks, but one could suggest it’s better to just emulate the thing, if you’re really curious to see how EDF started as a fan of the series, otherwise there’s really no point to simply recommend you play EDF 4.1 or 5 nowadays.

Once upon a time in 1998, D3 Publisher created a line to release budget priced games for the Playstation (among other consoles), called The Simple Series, with the number after the “Simple” monicker indicating the price point in yen, with the idea being of releasing simpler, cheap games based around generic concepts or sports like ping pong, tennis, mahjong.

Around the PS2 era they expanded the scope of the games released in this line, and this is where the cult series like Onechanbara were born, eventually getting picked up by western distributors like Midas, Agetec, 505 Gamestreet (or by D3 itself under their “Essential Games” name) alongside many other weird or notable budget games with unique ideas.

Earth Defense Force was definitely one of the more notable example, as it stratched a unique itch for modern yet incredibly arcade third person shooters rooted in the cliches of 60-70s scifi, putting you in the shoes of a lone soldier of the Earth Defense Force group tasked with defending the planet from alien invaders, coming in the form of giant ants, robots, saucers, even kaijus.

Given it’s a budget release from the Simple series, it’s not surprising that presentation it’s spartan, at best, with the story being described at the beginning via a wall of text that says:

Earth has been attacked after the Earth Defense Force was formed.

They attacked on May 7th 2017; in the first wave of the aliens attack nearly half of the fighting force was lost. In an effort to turn the tide of battle all remaining troops were summoned to the coalition’s Tokyo headquarters.

And that’s your lot (unless you wanna include a similar wall of text that you get at the end), go and make sure Mother Earth is defended by aliens attack. You’re doing your part! Even if it’s a silent one, so sadly there’s no hilarious voiceovers or quips in a so-bad-it’s good style english dubbing.

Gameplay is a combination of old school TPS from the era with the only modern concession being your loadout being limited to two weapons, otherwise it’s definitely, aggressively retro, so there’s no cover system or limited ammo.

You get to cover by hiding behind a building (unless you’ve already blasted them all to get a better line of fire, they rebuild them everytime anyway), and will learn to handle the hordes of giant insects, flying saucers, robots and such by mastering the EDF soldier ability to do an evasive roll, calculate when to reload and – most incredible of all – using the infantry’s majestic ability to jump in the air without bending the knees at all.

And you’ll need them because the game will not hold back on unleashing a lot of enemies at you at once in the few but large areas you’ll fight the good fight, even if the framerate will slow to a crawl, you can take it and win regardless, you’re EDF!

If you’ve played any of the other EDF games, getting around to play the original entry will be quite easy, since at heart the gameplay hasn’t really changed, nor have the controls, or the reasons why the series is pure dumbass fun, like collecting some weird joke weapons, mowing down hordes of giant ants by using a time delayed grenade launchers, or barbecuing the robots up close, instead of rocketting them in the face after you leveled the city to the ground before the enemies could.

Obviously it’s not as good as recent entries, not only for some reasonable QoL features but also the engine that goes from having a decent framerate to choking itself with a donut when too much shit happens on screen, having to roll around the big maps to collect the weapon boxes or armor pieces (otherwise you won’t upgrade your HP limit and survive some of the latter battles), hoping you will get a new weapon and not another assault rifle that you already own, as duplicates are pretty much piss in the wind, since you don’t get that weapon upgraded or anything, like in EDF 5 onwards.

And there’s no multiple classes, just the ol’ regular EDF infantry soldier, which is still fun to use, but you’ll miss the Wing Diver class from the sequels, as going on foot makes collecting those rotating images of 2D weapons’ box from all over the battlefield (hoping they don’t glitch and so get stuck mid.air) longer than it should.

There are vehicles like the hoverbike, tank and helicopter, but as in later entries, they verge on being almost useless since they control kinda like crap and they rarely make the game easier or more fun.

It’s EDF with both the fun parts and the warts, but it has all the foundational elements that the sequels will expand upon, and given how big some of the later EDF campaigns were (at times too long, due to the games getting the most use they can out of 7/8 big areas/levels for the missions), it’s a bit shorter than one would expect, with 25 missions that will take roughly 4 hours to beat, maybe more if you are not already familiar and well acquainted with the series like me.

But just beating the game on Normal is only the beginning of the true challenge for EDF nutcases, because harder difficulties not only up the speed, intelligence and aggressive behaviour of the enemies, but reward you with stronger, weirder weapons, and there’s a lot to unlock, just doing this straightforward run of the game for review will net you about 20 % completition.

So as usual the post-game has you tackling the harder difficulties for more weapons and more armor/HP upgrades, which will be needed to take on the missions on the final difficulty, Inferno.

Despite it being a budget release and lacking any grand presentation n shit, i’d say it’s definitively a complete package, as it has local split screen co-op and even a versus mode where it’s EDF soldier against EDF soldier, totally unnecessary since EDF it’s a game of jolly cooperation, hands joined to shoot at giant alien bugs, but it also adds more replayability, so why not?

Curiously enough, a lot of the sequels would be reboots or remakes of this first outing in terms of plot, establishing the alien menace and so on, which i guess makes sense since EDF it’s not a series of revolutions but updates and refinement of a specific type of game for a specific niche, in a way like my (also) beloved Dynasty Warriors. Maybe an acquired taste, but one we hold with pride.

There’s no other way to close this one, so let’s all chant, united minds and hearts:




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