Thursday, March 24, 2016

Top that!

Gather round, my friends, and let me describe for you what, in my opinion, is the worst level ever.

Not hardest or longest or even most boring. Just the worst. The worst ever.

Earth Defense Force ramps up the difficulty by throwing more and more enemies at the player, at first on their own and then in ridiculous combinations. Jumping spiders are bad enough, team them up with the hectors and then smaller mechs that generate gigantic shields and you start to get the idea. This method of torturing challenging the player creates some truly insane sections but it never feels unfair. Yes, there is some trial and error in which the player finds out only too late where reinforcements are arriving and that being on the other side of the map at the time is not a good idea, but that doesn't happen very often.

Then there are the giant enemies. Well, more giant. They take a lot more hits but they follow the same basic rules as everything else: run away and fire missiles. Repeat until everything is dead. One of the final levels does levy a giant spider, two giant wasps and at least one giant flying ant at the player along with several drop ships, hectors, and about a thousand red ants (the worst kind) but it was still doable and never got boring.

It is when the game breaks its own rules, in levels new to this re-release, that things fall apart. Godzilla, or something very much like him, makes an appearance. The first time the player needs only to survive long enough for him to get bored and leave the area. Boring and stupid, but nothing compared to what is coming.

Later he shows up a second time and the player actually has to kill him. To level the playing field the game drops in a gigantic mech, as big if not bigger than counterfeit Godzilla, and provides backup in the form of around ten foot soldiers. The infantry is important because while the mech good for punching (yes, punching, no guns) it cannot defend itself against the normal enemies. It also walks really. fucking. slow.

The world's biggest and slowest slobberknocker ensues. And this is still not the worst.

Big twist here, there was not just one Godzilla, there are dozens of them. Upping the ante to absurd levels, the player is dropped into a battle between an army of mechs and an army of Godzillas, this time without a mech of their own. No, they are now the cleaning crew, picking giant ants off of the mechs.

Prepare yourself.

The level was designed to accommodate the giants. This means walking around on foot, which you have to do a lot, takes forever. The mech AI and the Godzilla AI don't do a good job of paying attention to the right things. Occasionally, and by that I mean every fucking time I tried, I would aggro a Godzilla. Little foot soldier me instead of the metal monstrosity behind me. That never ended well.

Likewise, the mechs would focus on the smaller insects, the insects I was supposed to be killing and that they had no way of hitting. At least once I had all of the Godzillas chasing me while the mechs futilely punched the air, trying to dislodge the giant ants chewing on their joints. It would have been comical if it wasn't so very stupid.

And then the boss Godzilla shows up and a final mech is dropped in for the player no where near where the player actually is. A long run on foot to the mech, a longer run in the mech, not run, more like exaggerated stomping, to the boss, a boss who is faster than the player and spends most of his time running away. That bastard was training me and five surviving mechs for ten minutes before, you guessed it, blowing up my mech and stepping on me.

And then I had to do the whole thing again.

The worst. But the game is done now. One day's respite before the next bad game.

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