EDF 2017 Portable follows the story of Earth’s eponymous task force, created to protect the planet from a sudden invasion of intergalactic insects. The plot itself doesn’t go into detail and your hero’s personality is nonexistent, but the story isn’t why you’ll be playing this shooter. It actually serves more as a gentle reminder of the self-referential humor to be found in the game. During missions, you’ll hear cheesy radio banter from headquarters and from your fellow soldiers--but the voice acting is so horrendously bad, it’s more comedic than informative. Be prepared to hear lots of soldiers that sound more like excited Boy Scouts than men prepared for battle. Of course, you’ll most likely zone it all out and focus on what matters most: shooting alien ants in the face.
The game is made up of 60 missions set in the cities, coasts, and caves of Japan, where you’ll shoot down giant insects, robots, and spaceships with your arsenal of weapons. At the start of each mission, you can select its difficulty and two weapons to take with you into battle. In addition to health packs, defeated enemies will sometimes drop armor upgrades and new weapons that will make getting through the later missions a lot easier. Weapons include rocket launchers, homing drones, and a wide selection of assault rifles that add diversity to how you clear each mission, especially if you revisit them at different difficulty settings.
Considering the only strategy the game offers is in the form of better guns you can acquire, EDF 2017 Portable doesn’t offer much besides running and shooting. While you can occasionally hop into tanks and other assault vehicles in certain missions, combat is incredibly basic; every mission will begin to feel the same after a while. The only factors that set each one apart are your targets and location, but they, too, don’t offer much variety. Luckily, missions only last about 10 minutes, making it great for gaming on the go.
Despite not offering any other component besides running and shooting, missions do get more challenging and provide stronger foes to take down. For those looking for a challenge, the game also offers each mission in five difficulty settings. Completing the first level in its hardest setting won’t be easy at first, but come back to it after you’ve gotten more armor and stronger weapons and it will seem more manageable. Missions can also be played online or locally with up to three other players, giving you a better chance of survival and adding a level of strategy to the game’s simple combat. Playing with others is seamless and a lot of fun, giving you the choice to work together or face off against others in versus modes.
Like its voice acting, the poor graphics won’t be everyone’s favorite feature. Despite being a remastered version of a 2007 console game, EDF 2017 Portable didn’t get the most flattering makeover. The graphics look sharper on the Vita, but some textures still appear blurry from up close, dropped items are still 2D icons, and the game occasionally suffers from frame rate issues. Character design is also lackluster, and enemies will start to look the same after a few missions.
Even your character, the supposed hero of the game, looks like any other grunt. Aside from some pretty sunset backdrops, most of the game’s environments are flat and lifeless. Buildings can be destroyed, but that’s the only thing that’s interesting about them. A handful of boss-like missions, however, do a great job showing off the game’s impressive sense of scale. There’s nothing like firing your rockets towards a Godzilla-esque creature in the distance and seeing your homing rockets explode all over its face. These moments are rare, of course, and you’ll wish the game offered more of them.
Not everyone is going to appreciate the deliberate humor or the bad acting found in EDF 2017 Portable, but those who want a solid arcade shooter that offers plenty of challenge are sure to come back for more. While the online mode is a much-welcomed addition, the game could've used more polish to make it worth its $40 price. If you can excuse its technical shortcomings and repetitive nature, then EDF 2017 Portable is bound to be your next shameful addiction. Otherwise, wait for it to be on sale.