As Gears of War proves, shooters seem to be moving more toward the methodical and the complex: smart enemies, intense battles. But what happened to the old days, when twitchy trigger fingers ruled over swarms of mindless drones? Earth Defense Force X is one of the few games - maybe the only game - to ever try to meld together the intensity of an arcade style shoot 'em-up with the gameplay of a third-person shooter.
When you begin to play, it seems odd that a simple rifle can blast the hell out of giant ants, tall as a building. The enemies swarm and surround you; it's just you, on foot, running through the city and taking pot-shots. Pop a bullet or two in an insect from beyond the stars and it's dead... now, there are just hundreds more to mow down. That's the thing about EDFX: the scale is huge, but the gameplay intensity comes not from the tactics of taking out an enemy that's smarter than you: from sheer size and numbers. When endless streams of giant, gleaming, merciless robots are bearing down on you, it really puts the "run" in "run 'n' gun."
The demo build that we got to play had 53 missions unlocked, so we were able to experience everything from the aforementioned massive ants to gangly robots and invading UFOs. We hopped into a chopper (with slightly dodgy control) to survey the damage from above, fired rockets into the side of a skyscraper to bring it crashing to the ground and later explored the depths of a monster-bug filled cave, hosing everything down with punishing green acid. Weapon variety: not a problem. This ranges from military-real to straight outta Contra. There are even nukes, and the "Genocide Gun," which does hideous amounts of damage. This game is entirely fixated on blowing things up and blowing them up but good, and it puts the tools into your hands. Did we mention most of them have infinite ammo?