I am supremely disappointed in Sandlot.
When I played Robot Alchemic Drive on the PS2, I thought it was sheer genius. The game's giant transforming robots left cities in rubble and their enormous sense of scale completely won me over. I had nothing but praise for that title, and I earmarked the house as a developer to watch for. When I heard that they were behind Earth Defense Force 2017, I was ecstatic.
Now that I've played it, I'm tearing up my Sandlot fanclub card and crossing them off my favorites list. An overpriced, underproduced piece of junk, I'd feel pretty sketchy paying $20 for EDF2017. The fact that it's actually retailing for $40 is brass-balled robbery.
In Earth Defense Force 2017, aliens arrive on earth and they're completely hostile, natch. Featuring an array of super-sized enemies like spiders as big as houses, 50-foot tall robots and giant dinosaurs with cannons mounted on their backs, players hit the streets for some extremely basic third-person shooting on the road to reclaiming earth for humanity.
On paper this seems like a fantastic idea—at least from a sci-fi enthusiast perspective. I mean, blasting hordes of ants crawling across a skyline like one of Uncle Milton's farms gone wrong seems like can't-miss quality entertainment, and who doesn't like giant mechanoids spewing lasers? I sure do. In practice, Earth Defense Force 2017 is a stunning display of cheap production values, poor planning, and grinding repetition. In fact, the only qualities that EDF has in common with RAD are its sense of scale and the way buildings collapse into huge, chunky polygons.
Technically, EDF is a joke. The graphics are pitifully underdetailed, the collision between objects is nonexistent, and the physics make absolutely no sense at all. It's clear that realism is not a quality the game is shooting for, but it doesn't even meet the minimum standards that most would reasonably expect, especially on the 360.
I burst out laughing when a skyscraper came tumbling down after being hit by a single rocket, but not in a good way. Meanwhile, nearly infinite swarms of bugs and thick mobs of robots clustered together so tightly that they clipped over and into each other, blocking off all view of anything except more bugs and robots.
After playing the first handful of levels, the game had no surprises left to offer. Open, non-interactive (unless you count demolishing buildings) and bland areas host plague-like numbers of enemies that exist solely to be mowed down, without even the barest hint of artificial intelligence. There are some rudimentary power-ups to be collected in an effort to survive the massive onslaughts of later levels, but I hardly see the point. I can't imagine any players sticking around for 53 missions' worth of mindless blasting when they're all carbon copies of the first.
Run, shoot. Shoot, run. EDF tosses in a few ill-conceived vehicles, each controlling like a differently-shaped brick and doing little except to get the player killed even faster. I could maybe see this being entertaining for a single afternoon with a co-op partner aboard, but the game doesn't even support multiplayer over Live—unbelievably, the only multi option is single-console splitscreen. Cue vomiting.
A bad play structure, no complexity or true feeling of progression, no bells or whistles, no unique ideas, outdated multiplayer—even the achievements are junk. (One for completing the game on each difficulty level, and one for collecting all the weapons. Who's going to sit through this garbage long enough to finish it even once, let alone multiple times?) I could go on and on, but why bother? This is the worst 360 game I think I've ever played with nothing to redeem it. Earth Defense Force 2017 can't even stack up against the recent Burger King games, and those were little better than minigames on a disc coming in at four dollars each. The only possible future I see for Earth Defense Force 2017 is gaining the notoriety as one of those "so bad it's good" games, but don't be fool yourself—it's just bad.