Overlooked 360 Games of 2007
Posted by:
Date: May 07, 2008

There were some games I picked up for the X-Box 360 last year that I felt didn't get a fair chance from the media and majority of gamers. Below I discuss the three that stand out in my mind.

Earth Defense Force 2017
Defending the Earth has never been so gleefully destructive"
Game Rankings Score: 70.9%

Earth Defense Force (EDF) 2017 was the third in a series of games that began on the PS2 and the first to hit our shores. The game was immediately ignored by a number of people due to the graphics and repetition of level design. I do admit, the graphics were not top notch and throughout the 53 stages you will see variations on the same levels. The game could have definitely used more work in the graphics department to make the levels look more varied and interesting. Regardless of the graphics, this was a fantastically fun, addictive arcade shooter. Played in the third person perspective, your goal is to blaze your way through the 53 levels by killing an alien menace (consisting of giant ants, giant spiders, various robots, and giant dino things) that has come to destroy our Earth. To aid you in your quest is a plethora of destructive weaponry, which you will need to put to good use to get through the 5 difficulty levels. As you kill monsters they drop random power-ups such as health, armor, and weapons. Armor will boost your health permanently (which you will need a lot of in later difficulties) and they will drop random weapons to unlock.

The first couple of difficulty levels are pretty easy, where you can run in guns blazing to slaughter the aliens and earn power-ups. As you get to higher difficulty levels it begins to get more tactical and strategic in nature. You can only take 2 weapons into a level, so you find yourself determining what is best based on the level and enemies you'll fight. Incidentally, I've seen comments complaining about some framerate issues, but I've only ever seen slow down in the higher difficulties when there's tons of enemies on screen all firing at me while I'm trying to slaughter them in return.

To add to the fun, the game includes 2-player options. Versus mode is a joke so I wouldn't bother, but the real star is 2 player co-op. On the highest difficulty levels it's good to have a friend along to have double the health and firepower on your side. I've played through most of the game with a friend and it's been immensely entertaining. We'd plan out strategies when going into levels and be able to cover each other while one of us is reloading. Great fun.

In conclusion, despite shortcomings in the graphics department, EDF is a very addictive and satisfyingly destructive game. You can destroy pretty much anything in the levels while you battle the aliens and it's gratifying to watch as your rocket launcher levels a building and sends aliens flying. The 2-player co-op adds to the fun and strategy. The difficulty levels, along with all the unlockable weapons, gives you drive to play further. You can pick up the game for about $18-20 at most places. Give it a try.

Project Sylpheed
"A new sylpheed for modern consoles"
Game Rankings Score: 66%

Project Sylpheed is not to be confused with Silpheed. The only similarities between them are the name and being a space shooter. Developed by Game Arts (they did grandia, lunar, and the silpheed games) and published by Square Enix, you find yourself piloting the Delta Saber in a fully 3D shooter.

The main gripes I've heard about this game are the control scheme and framerate. Frankly, I don't get it. The game controls just great and I find it very easy and intuitive to learn and use. I also have not seen any framerate issues with it. Everything zooms along as I expect it should.

In the game, you play Katana, who fights for the side of Earth against a resistance movement. Along the way, anime styled cutscenes (which look heavily influenced by Square Enix) move along the story. I haven't seen this much story in a shooter in I don't know how long, which was a pleasant change. The graphics are first-rate and gorgeous and it gets quite thrilling when you get in the midst of fleets of ships with ammo flying every which way.

To add to the depth of the game, as you play you earn points after each level based on your performance. You can then use them to develop new weapons for your Delta Saber (over 50 in all). Your ship can equip a nose weapon and up to 3 main weapons, which gives you a good variety of weaponry with which to destroy your enemies.

For replayability, there are 3 difficulty levels. There's a total of 16 missions in the game, and it doesn't take too long to get through them. For weapon development, it's in your best interests to eventually use New Game Plus (which allows you to play the story again with all your unlocked goodies) to play the higher difficulties as more enemies equals more points. Also, they released free downloadable content for the game over X-Box Live which adds 6 new missions and beating them unlocks 6 new weapons.

Overall, I found this to be an intense 3D space shooter that was extremely fun (the most fun I've had with a 3D shooter since Tachyon: The Fringe). It's a beautiful game with intense combat and a decent story. For those who enjoy space shooters, it's worth a try. Especially since it's $20-30 now.

Two Worlds
"One of the best 'worst' games you'll ever play"
Game Rankings Score: 49.6%

First off, I will say this, it is not Oblivion. Get over it. Most of the bashing of the game has been due to people comparing the two and going, "Hey, this isn't like Oblivion." If you approach this game with no expectations except that it's a free-roaming 3D RPG, then you'll be pleasantly surprised.

There's a story there, involving an unnamed mercenary looking for his sister, but it's not all that involving or important. The main fun of the game is wandering from town to town, picking up all the little quests you can do. There are several factions at play in the settings of Two Worlds, so you have to decide who you want to work for or how to balance them out not to make new enemies. That's about it for the story department.

The game looks nice enough, although some of the models could have used more work (for instance, boars and wolves look oddly similar). Some of the locations though are quite breathtaking. Sound effects are also what you would expect, but the music is actually very good. There's also a lot of voice acting in it, but the dialogue is very olde english which makes for some hilarious comments ("Forsooth! Mayhaps you jest with my blade!"). I viewed the dialogue as comedic entertainment rather than taking it seriously. Good stuff.

Gameplay wise, it's very easy to play with a controller. To get my Oblivion comparisons out of the way here, the combat in Two Worlds strikes me as more fast-paced and action-oriented than Oblivion. Also, the design of skills in Two Worlds made a lot more sense than the broken skill setup in Oblivion. There; comparisons done. One of the most interesting aspects of Two Worlds is your ability to combine most anything. As you wander the world you'll find a whole slew of various items. You can combine ingredients to make potions (useful to make ones that permanently boost stats or abilities) and combine the same forms of armor/weapons to level them up (by the end of the game I had a weapon and armor set I had combined that was more powerful than anything you could buy). This made for a lot of wandering around looking for ingredients and looting everything I could so I could boost my gear. There's also various mounts you can find and ride (horses, skeleton horses, and lizards). Sadly, they control like ass, so they are only good for treasure storage. Multiplayer modes, at least for the 360, aren't worth a bother. I've heard the PC multiplayer is better.

I had much more fun with this than Oblivion (of which I got so bored with I never did finish). It may have had it's few issues (there's some framerate loss when you're fighting a horde), but they didn't hamper my enjoyment of the game. It's also extremely funny without trying to be, such as the corny dialogue, some ugly monsters, and other amusing details (for instance, a friend of mine went and raised a bunch of orcs back to life in a city and the orcs formed cleaning crews...sweeping the streets and such). If you keep an eye out, you can find it pretty cheap. I got it from Gamefly on sale for $13, new copies run $30-40. On a last note, the scoring disparity is quite high between media outlet scores and the public (gamerankings average of 49.6% for media versus the 87% from user votes). Clearly somebody besides me liked the game.

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