Giant ants shoot orange acid from their butts, but explode into green goop when blasted with a grenade. 30-story-tall robots with plasma cannons for arms explode in fireballs so big, they obscure your entire field of vision. You can bring down an entire skyscraper with a single, well-aimed rocket, and then climb into the helicopter that used to be on its roof to make it easier to pump a mutant alien dinosaur full of missiles without being torched by its flame breath.
If anyone ever tells us again that video games aren't educational, we're going to point to these and other important lessons we've learned from campy, third-person sci-fi blaster Earth Defense Force 2017. Then we're going to say, "So, now who do you want guarding your backside when the alien invasion force shows up and starts laying it down, Ms. Cragazzle? Huh? Yeah, that's what we thought" because we've wanted to say that ever since grade school, but never got the chance before.
Be warned: if you don't love sci-fi movies like Independence Day, Them!, and Godzilla, run away screaming. Because, there's actually plenty wrong with this game: the graphics often look more like a really good Xbox game than a 360 title, with objects sometimes popping into sight and movements that stutter on rare occasion. The voice work is shabby. Your little dude jumps funny, and the physics are wonky - once dead, the bodies of space tarantulas the size of a Winnebago can be pushed around with normal machine gun fire. Three of the four in-game vehicles - the speeder bike, gun copter, and mech - handle like crap, and the tank isn't much better. The health and armor pick-ups are 2D sprites. There's no online play - just split-screen co-op on the same system.
But one thing makes all of that crap irrelevant: this game is fun, plain and simple. Starting with a typical "alien spaceships have arrived!" theme, it earnestly, unabashedly throws as many beloved sci-fi clichés as possible into your line of fire. Giant ants? Check. How about tarantulas too? And tougher red ants. And UFOs of all sizes, and killer robots the size of skyscrapers, then an astonishingly huge robot big enough to step on those? Then more of all that, and a giant monster. Then two giant monsters with cyborg parts... you get the idea.
This constant, enthusiastic urge to one-up itself across a beefy 53 levels is a huge part of the game's appeal - you literally can't wait to see what's going to turn up next. But when you add in more than 150 weapons, five difficulty settings, relatively competent squad members and graphics that aren't prize-winning, but can draw 40 or more giant insects and flying saucers tearing the crap out of a fully destructible city and almost never chug? Then, it's easy to see what this is: a corny, geeky dream come true that's destined to be an underground classic.