Monster Attack Review (PS2)
The first in the Earth Defense Force Trilogy
Time again for a great game most in the west haven’t hard of. Introducing Monster Attack, a budget PS2 third person action game released only in Japan and Europe.
Monster Attack is the first game in a series known in Japan semi-unofficially as The Chikyū Bōeigun, or “Earth Defense Force”.
In Japan, The Chikyū Bōeigun was an early entry in D3 Publisher’s Simple 2000 series of budget titles all retailing for 2000 yen each.
Thought obscure and somewhat hard to find, The Chikyū Bōeigun was translated and brought to Europe until the new title Monster Attack, completely dropping the Earth Defense Force name for whatever reason.
Apparently, Monster Attack did well enough in Europe to warrant it’s sequel to be localized for the European gamer, but that game is for another review.
Most gamers in the west will recognize this as it looks very similar to an early Xbox 360 action game called Earth Defense Force 2017, and it should look similar: 2017 is a rather extensive remake of this game.
Being an obscure PS2 budget title with only a PAL localized version, you might be asking yourself if this simple action game is worth your time and money. Let me assure you that it is on both accounts.
In the year 2017, Earth is invaded by an alien force made up of almost every ’50s monster movie clechés you can think of. Giant ants, giant spiders, robots, UFOs and yes, even Godzilla. To combat these invaders, the nations of the world band together to form a united army called the Earth Defense Force. As a lone EDF Soldier, presumably the sole survivor of a platoon, you are tasked with defending Japanese soil from the alien threat.
It’s cheesy 50’s horror movie fare. If you like classics like THEM! then you’ll fall in love with this game.
Graphically, the game ranges from slightly below average to slightly above. Cityscapes and the monsters look decent enough, but some of the environments look bland and effects are mostly awful. The arenas for each stage are fairly large and take some time to travel across, but there are only a handful of different stages across the game’s 50 missions. To give the illusion there are more the Developers change the starting locations for each mission. However, this too soon repeats and the novelty wears off. The environments also have a lot of pop in due to the short draw distance, but I mostly fault the limited PS2 hardware for this and not the developer. Keep in mind this is a budget game afterall.
Weapon effects look good, as do explosions. The cityscapres are fully destructible as well, but destroying buildings is rendered like throwing a bowling ball at a paper machete cutout of a building. It leaves a lot to be desired. Worst of all, Monster Attack has a real hard time maintaining a steady framerate as the action heats up in some stages. It can literally drop down to single digits at times, making the game almost unplayable during these segments. They do clear up though, so its not an ongoing issue. All this said, Monster Attack is a budget title and it sure looks like one.
The game’s audio serves to enhance the overly cheesy monster there even further. Broody horror movie-like scores fill the game’s track. I love it. The main theme is as techno sci-fi track that is just plain awesome. The rest of the background music is your typical Monster themes and they totally fit in.
Almost as if to apologize for the lackluster graphics, Monster Attack’s gameplay is just short of being excellent. Once you go into options and change the controls to “tactical,” this game becomes one of the best third person shooters you’ll play on the PS2 outside Resident Evil 4.
For each mission you can carry two sets of weapons. Weapons range from machine rifles to shotguns to rocket launchers to bazaar particle cannons. Your soldier travels on foot by tilting the left stick or by using the d-pad. You aim as you would in an FPS by tilting the right stick. The shoulder buttons are used for jumping, barrel rolling, changing weapons and of course, firing. All the weapons you have have unlimited ammo and are only restricted by their reload times. You can’t attack at all while reloading so its a good idea to leave some ammo for your second weapon in case you need to quickly attack to defend yourself.
When you defeat enemies, they sometimes drop items. Items consist of small health packs that instantly restore some lost HP, armor packs, which increase your overall HP by 1 and new weapon packs. Armor isn’t added to your inventory until you successfully complete a mission, making failure even more unpleasant.
Likewise, you can’t tell what new weapons you picked up until after you complete the mission and check the gear you picked up. The weapons are pretty random, so it’s got a candy grab-bag sort of fun to seeing what you got.
The game teases you with a unique risk/reward system. There are five difficulties to play the game in, and the game will reward players with more powerful items the higher the difficulty they attempt. The most powerful weapons only appear in the hardest stages on the hardest mode called Inferno, appropriately enough.
Although the game has you mostly on foot, there are also three vehicles you can use as well – a tank, a speed bike and a helicopter. Unfortunately, you’ll soon discover these all control awful, lack power and are generally best simply ignored.
As you play and collect armor, you increase your overall HP and gain access to stronger weapons, making the game very RPG like in a lot of ways. Knowing your actually accomplishing something every time you play goes a long way to making you want to pick up the controller again.
Availability and Price
Monster Attack can be found for around 5 Euro making it rather cheap. Only problem is finding anyone who does have it. Check around: check ebay, amazon, European friends or family. You’ll find it.
Everyone – Despite the violence, the only blood or gore to found is that of the monsters, which is a comical green spray that quickly vanishes. This game can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.
In Japan, The Chikyū Bōeigun quickly became one of the most popular and successful games in the Simple 2000 series, allowing D3 Publish and Sandlot to develop a sequel which did even better.
Shortly after D3 was finished with Chikyū Bōeigun 2, they began to work on another title called Chikyū Bōeigun X, surprisingly for the Xbox 360.
Even more shocking was the fact that this game would not be a new game, but a complete remake of the first.
In 2007, The Chikyū Bōeigun X was finally released for the Xbox 360 in North American rentitled Earth Defense Force 2017, to help distinguish itself from the SNES Super Earth Defense Force game that bares nothing but the common name. Despite being a Monster Attack remake, EDF2017 made many changes including new enemies, weapons, NPC soldiers and a vastly expanded game length.
That said, Monster Attack is different enough to warrant a purchase and a place in anyone’s PS2 library.
It may be PAL only, but many new TVs can accept PAL signals and even if they can’t, you can rip the game to an .iso and then run PAL to NTSC converter software “forcing” the game into NTSC. Ah, the joys of technology.
Graphics 7.0 – Monster Attack is a budget game and it shows. Nothing really looks excellent but the graphics do their job well enough that the less than stunning graphics won’t bother you after a few minutes.
Audio – 8.0 A broody excellent 50’s horror movie type sound. Sound effects are used well. I just love the main menu music.
Gameplay – 8.0 – Where the game truly shines. It’s simple but fun.
Control – 8.0 – In Technical mode, the controls work like a charm.
Value – 8.0 – True, Earth Defense Force 2017 is this game, and 2017 is much more refined, but this game can be found very cheaply and is a blast to play with a friend.
Lasting Appeal 8.0 – Not the longest game nor the deepest, but Monster Attack is a great experience on the PS2. Grab a buddy and have at it with giant ants, spiders, robots and more.
Platform: Playstation 2
Genre: Third Person Action Shooter
Release Date: 2004
Devoloper: D3 Publisher
Buy or skip: Buy