I must say I was not familiar with the Earth Defense Force series before reviewing this title and that’s a real shame because it’s one of the most stupid but ridiculously fun games I have played. Its simple gameplay and insane plot creates one of the stupidest game series but I can’t help but like it.
Beginning life on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 as Earth Defense Force 2025, direct sequel to Earth Defense Force 2017, released in back in 2013 in Japan and 2014 in North America and Europe. It’s now back on PlayStation 4 as an enhanced port titled – Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair. I’ve certainly been taking enjoyment in the despair of the game’s innocent residents as giant insects chow them down while I spend my time taking in the sights.
The game’s plot is simple; you take on the role of a member of the Earth Defense Force, a multinational military founded to protect the earth from hostile aliens. In 2017 the Earth Defense Force fought against the alien race known as Ravagers and won but now they’re back! Eight years later, in the year 2025, the Ravagers are back bringing all manner of giant insect creatures with them. Giant ants, spiders, bees are just a few of the terrors heading to earth and it’s down to you and the Earth Defense Force to fight the alien invaders back once more.
The game plays out in an almost endless set of missions, each largely the same; destroy the Ravagers. While missions can become repetitive, only differing in location and enemies, the basic mission conditions are always the same. This would be a massive no no for any other game series but in Earth Defense Force it never feels too samey. Each mission is another opportunity to take in the ridiculousness and kill some giant insects or just do what you want. The game features four different classes, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Ranger is your standard soldier, able to equip an array of different weapons, giving you some scope on load-outs for particular missions. Air Raider is more of a support role, not a damage dealer. Wing Diver is probably the most exciting class, given your ability to fly, but this comes with reduced health compared to other classes. The last class, Fencer, is slow but comes with the bonus of better protection and heavy weaponry. The four classes work well together when participating in multiplayer missions where each person takes on a different class. Other than that they do provide a varied gameplay experience during your solo missions.
Progressing through the ridiculously huge amount of missions available can be repetitive at times but this is offset by the weaponry you can get access too. Not content to give you just the basic rifle, sniper, handgun combination, EDF 4.1 also contains things like rocket, missile and grenade launchers to name a few and quite a few exotic weapons, that may include fire or lasers, making missions a lot more enjoyable. Weapons are obtained through a loot system akin to that of Destiny or Diablo III where enemies drop random weapons. The higher the difficulty level and the further you progress the more extravagant the weapons you’ll have access too.
Going it solo can get tedious once the novelty wears off a little, co-op is easily where this game is at its best. Taking up one of the four classes and going a few rounds with friends can be hilarious or even during a random stranger’s game. There’s a great deal of mindless fun to be had online with Earth Defense Force 4.1. If you’re looking for a meaningful and satisfying story, you won’t find it here, but there’s nothing quite like mowing down hordes of giant insects with increasingly ridiculous weaponry.
Earth Defense Force 4.1 is not the most visually appealing game out there and certainly not anywhere near the best looking but it has a unique charm. I actually spent a lot of my time peering into the same copy & paste shop windows and wandering around the vast map based on what appears to be Japan. Blowing up buildings is always a highlight of any mission and here you get to watch them crumble around you, thankfully these spectacles don’t hinder the frame rate too much even with hordes of enemies on screen. The game features very minimal sounds apart from the constant screaming of terrified civilians and the gung-ho attitude of your fellow EDF members, the chanting of “EDF, EDF, EDF” being rather popular.
Everything about Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair is, let’s face it, pretty below par when it comes to technical, visual and audio quality. The gameplay isn’t the smoothest, the visuals leave a lot to be desired and the audio, what little of it, is just basic. Given all that, though I still can’t help but really enjoy the game, it’s just so stupid, so ridiculous that’s it’s actually a fun game to play. It’s even better when you can play it with a couple of friends as the ridiculousness just never ends.