We all play games for different reasons, often letting that reason change with the wind. Some of us want to play through epic stories that force us on a journey of self discovery, while others want to rise up from meager beginnings and build incredible power before saving a world they had once rejected. We keep looking for games that make us feel something primordial deep down, allowing ourselves to connect with our characters in a way that stays with us for days after we power down for the last time. But sometimes, just sometimes, we want to blow the ever loving shit out of some giant bugs while flying through the air as a caricature of an anime girl with a jetpack. Earth Defense Force 2025 fills that latter niche perfectly.
Earth Defense Force 2025 is essentially the video game version of watching a Syfy movie at 2 am. Living underground for nearly a decade, the insects have had plenty of time to adapt and evolve into something even more terrifying, and after 7 years of peace, they have returned to attack alongside some alien baddies. This forces the Earth Defense Force to once again save the planet. It’s not the most unique story to ever grace our desks, but I’ll be damned if it’s not a fun one.
There are four distinct classes you can play as in Earth Defense Force 2025, all of them being pretty well balanced for unique roles on the battlefield. The Ranger is the recommended class for players new to the franchise, although he’s going to feel like old hat to longtime fans. In fact, he’s probably going to feel a bit stale to most third-person shooter fans since he’s about as generic a character you could possibly come up with. Still, with a wide variety of weapons and great movement on the battlefield, he’s a lot of fun to play with.
The Air Raiders are about as close as you can get to injecting some strategy into the game, but can really cause some havoc. Being able to call in artillery support or drop in a vehicle can really change the flow of a battle. While they could work well on their own, they pair best with the new Fencer class to really control the battlefield.
The Fencer is the human version of a mortar. While these guys may be slow to get to the front lines and need an extra second to set themselves up, they can rain absolute hell down around them. Their massive Gatling gun pairs fantastically with a shield that can be used to starve off a few attacks, or with their lance to allow for a melee attack, but they need to be completely stationary before they can do much of anything. On their own, they’re fairly useless, but having one of these guys available for cooperation is an absolute godsend.
That leaves my personal favorite, the Wing Diver. Wing Divers are an aerial group of fighters comprised of only women, who for whatever reason have a dress code that would get you kicked out of most establishments. Their true strength comes from their ability to scout ahead, plant themselves on top of a building, and launch a few massive explosions before scurrying away. The catch is that your jetpack and weapon share an ammo reserve, so if you’re not careful you’ll find yourself waiting for a painfully slow reload while surrounded by three story tall spiders. They’re extremely weak in the defense department, too, so maximizing their mobility is the key to success.
The missions are all incredibly simplistic and pretty much end with “go kill everything that doesn’t look human,” but the fact of the matter is that it works here. It’s a very simple mechanic and by all accounts a one trick pony, but it does that trick extremely well. It does run the risk of growing old very quickly, but I found just enough variety to keep me coming back for just another quick mission. Jumping in a massive tank where three players each get their own turret is just one of those video game things that never fails to entertain.
There’s a large focus on multiplayer here too, and this is where the game really starts to shine. The four player online or two player split screen allows classes like the Fencer to become invaluable tools as well as a fun part of the experience, and let’s face it, blowing things up is always better with a friend. Playing through all 90 levels on your own can definitely get tedious, so having someone next to you willing to check their disbelief at the door really is an asset.
There’s also a two-player versus mode, but it’s absolutely forgettable. It’s not ‘bad,’ but there’s nothing good in there to make it anything more than a selling feature on the game’s box art.
From a technical standpoint, Earth Defense Force 2025 registers a resounding “meh.” The graphics aren’t horrible, but really don’t offer anything worth talking about. The audio, on the other hand, was so bad that it became absolutely amazing. Between the script and the actors who were apparently told to ham it up as much as humanly possible, this was simply outstanding, in the “Leprechaun 5 – direct to DVD” type of way. Don’t take this game too seriously, as it’s obvious that the developers didn’t either.
On the negative end, I did run into some fairly substantial slowdown when the action got a bit too hectic. There are some destructible buildings that can be brought down via explosions, but outside of the cosmetic effect of a building no longer being there, there wasn’t any real impact. I would have loved to have seen the rubble play in a bit, if nothing more than to kill any players or bugs who got caught under it (like in the Battlefield series). And while I found just enough variation to keep going back with a buddy, a lot of players may lose interest in the story and set the game aside.
I’ll be brutally honest here; Earth Defense Force 2025 is not a game that should score highly based on my personal criteria. It’s not the prettiest title, the story isn’t the most engaging, and the voice acting sure as hell isn’t going to win any awards, but at the end of the day it’s just damn fun. It’s silly and it’s over the top, but it succeeds in doing exactly what it set out to do. This isn’t the type of game you’re going to sit down and lose yourself into for nights on end, but I really don’t think it’s made to be anything more than a really fun distraction from the mundane. Sit down, grab your beverage of choice, join up with a friend, and blow some giant bugs off the face of the planet. I guarantee you’ll find yourself enjoying it.
This review is based off an Xbox 360 version of the game that was given to us for review purposes.
Earth Defense Force 2025 is a game that demands that you turn the critical thinking part of your brain off while you sit back and blow things up. In that regard, it's given a masterclass.