Earth Defense Force 2025 Review
The Earth Defense Force games are a strange breed. The graphics are atrocious, the story is almost non-existent, the voice acting is B-movie awful and, judged at face value, these should be awful, bargain bin games. But guess what? They are more fun than they have any right to be, and eclipse even the biggest budget titles in terms of the sheer joy you'll get from just buckling in and going for the ride. The latest Earth Defense Force game, Earth Defense Force 2025, makes a few changes to the formula, but everything is as awesome as you either remember it, or will soon experience for the first time. That is, unless you plain hate fun.
The last Earth Defense Force game, 2017 Portable on the PlayStation Vita, was a blast and a half, and it looks like things haven't changed in the intervening seven years of EDF time (2017 to 2025). The alien bug invasion we spent hours beating back with all manner of weaponry has returned, so its time to jump back into battle with the ever-growing menagerie of giant insects, robots and beasties straight from the films of Count Floyd's Monster Horror Chiller Theater (if you got this reference, guess what - you are old and so am I). If you want more in the way of a story than this, you're going to be disappointed; EDF's drive is all missions and aliens, and as much destruction as you can possibly imagine. And it works just fine.
As a third-person, mission based shooter, EDF effortlessly excels. Some changes have been tossed into the mix this time, and while the effort is appreciated, they don't make a whole lot of difference. There are a number of different classes you can choose from and nearly 700 different weapons with which to defend Earth, but regardless of weapon of class, this is a straight game of blast them before their numbers overwhelm and/or they blast you. The Fencer and Wing Diver classes do demand a slight adjustment in the way the game is played, and both work well, but most of the other classes are extremely similar. The Fencer class focuses on melee weaponry with some heavy armor and shields and the Wing Diver class is like Palewing from the Vita game, outfitted with a jetpack and slightly less powerful weaponry. Both twists are fun, but I found myself playing the game as I would have if there were no classes - give me the most powerful weapons, bugs to explode and a cityscape to level and let me get to it.
And if you were worried, vehicular combat is back as well. Everyone in the world is melting down over Titanfall about now, but EDF 2025 has been doing the mech thing for years - and doing it well. And Robotech knockoffs aren't the only mobile deathdealers you'll pilot; the full complement of EDF hoverbikes, tanks, jets... basically anything you've ever thought "Hey, it would be fun to destroy stuff with that" about makes an appearance in some form or fashion. The vehicles, though a blast to play with, somehow aren't as fun as the lone soldier on foot, armed with a rocket launcher, a deep-seated hatred of giant ants and a reckless disregard for the safety of the people in the skyscrapers lining the streets. That's the beauty of the Earth Defense Force series; the simple goal of annihilating alien insects is approachable from so many directions that you can just play in whatever way feels like the most fun.
Earth Defense Force 2025 isn't perfect, though. It seems that a stronger emphasis was placed on multiplayer this time around. While this doesn't break the game entirely, it does dent the fender a little. Up to four players can play at once online, and two players can even have a good old fashioned game of split screen co-op, and this is great for gamers who can't get enough of playing with their friends. Those of us who prefer to tackle our games solo will have some trouble with some of the later missions without a buddy along to take some of the heat. Luckily, solo gamers will plow through 75-80 of the game's 90+ missions before this becomes an issue, but it is still there and still hurt my overall view of the game during the final hours. I understand that online multiplayer is becoming synonymous with gaming and that is fine, but altering a single player experience in any way to make multiplayer more necessary is a big no-no in my book. I'm in the minority on that one, but I'm writing this review so you will listen to every word I have to say, dammit!
That single minor flaw aside, Earth Defense Force 2025 is one of the most fun games I've played so far this year. Like I said before, it isn't the deepest or most technologically advanced game you'll see on the shelves, but it might just be the most fun. If my praise isn't enough to get you to open your wallet, I would then defy anyone who enjoys video games not to crack a smile when blasting through this title. Alone (like me) or with friends, Earth Defense Force 2025 is my instant sleeper hit of spring 2014.
Final Rating: 83%. It's far from awesome, but it sure is fun,