Developer: Sandlot Publisher: D3 Publisher Platforms: PS3 (Version Reviewed), Xbox 360
To borrow from the words of Ralph Wiggum; this game is funny, but not “Haha” funny. That is also the best way to describe my Earth Defense Force 2025 review, as the “Charm” and style of a made-for-Betamax B-movie of a video game does not hold up over the course of 12+ hours. Instead, it allows for the player to see the game for its flawed, monotonous, janky, ugly core.
There’s not much to the story of Earth Defense Force 2025. Giant insects have begun to take over the Earth…again! Just like 7 years ago! In fact, canonically, this is the 4th entry in the series of games. As a soldier of the Earth Defense Force (a multinational military funded by countries all around the world), your job is to stop the Ravagers once again as they try to destroy all citizens with humongous ants, spiders, robots and alien ships, among other deadly forces. Characters use a plethora of guns and other projectile weapons to destroy foes. Enemies drop armor, health and weapon boxes on occasion, which in turn can be used to upgrade your warrior over time.
Gameplay is structured within a mission system. Before you enter each map (many of which are recycled throughout), players are given the opportunity to prepare their loadouts. There are four separate classes to choose from. The Ranger is an average soldier build, with access to most of the game’s weapons, mechs and vehicles. The Wing Diver is a female-only class that utilizes jet pack and laser weapon technology, with low armor being the cost. Air Raiders are the ultimate offensive-support class, being able to call in raids, support vehicles and use explosive weapons. Fencers are like heavy tank-like soldiers that can carry 4 weapons into combat, use deflective shields and essentially become a slow-moving killing machine.
While there is a lot to knock in this title, EDF 2025 did a great job of providing variety and length in certain aspects of this project. For one, even though it seems to be mostly in statistical sliders, I loved the fact at how you could choose one of 5 different difficulties. What’s harder than hard or hardest? Inferno! It really sold me out of the gate that I was in store for a silly adventure. The characters classes felt like you were playing as different people, solidifying the notion that they put thought into making each character different. Even though the Wing Divers were a bit stereotypical in their midriff-exposing mecha armor ways, I felt like I wasn’t just being subject to the same thing cut out into 4 separate boxes.
Playing with a friend is the best the game can get. Either it be in online play with up to 3 others or with you and a pal playing with couch co-op during the main mission line, being able to utilize multiple classes at once allows you to optimize each mission attempt the best way possible. It’s always great to see games maintain traditions of keeping offline multiplayer, especially if you keep the option to go online, as well. It’s a trend I would like to see make a comeback in the 8th generation of consoles, even if it begins to make its slow way out.
With all that out of the way, it’s time to get to the nitty gritty. To me, Earth Defense Force 2025 is just plain bad. The goofy dialogue, defensible as “It’s bad on purpose, I swear!”, wears thin after the first hour of play. The first time I heard “Go back to space!” line-read as serious had me burst out with laughter. Even the war songs had me pumped up, initially. However, hearing the same damn things over and over again grew tired. You would think after tens and tens of missions, your squad would know if their teammates had a wife back home, or if they were getting married, or what type of meal they’ll have after the battle is done.
Combat itself can become mindless, at times. Once you find your optimal loadout and know what works against certain foes, fighting the same things over and over becomes busywork; a chore along the way of the ultimate goal in completing the entirety of EDF 2025. You can always ratchet up the difficulty to the next level, but it seems to only make things take longer to die. Eventually, any pretense of changing things up (outside of destroying specific objectives in addition to destroying waves of enemies) was removed completely.
While some of the game’s monsters did show interesting design, the graphical and technical performance did not match the same intensity. I had questioned myself if I was playing EDF on the PS3 or late-game PS2, as the visuals were quite disappointing for something coming out near the end of the PS3′s life cycle. Furthermore, when the biggest explosions occurred and buildings began to crumble, the framerate dropped significantly.
What absolutely killed me during my labored sittings with this game were the performance bugs. On occasion, there were monsters stuck in the walls, unable to be killed. Because EDF 2025 has no checkpoint system, you would have to restart the entire mission and pray it didn’t happen again. It became frustrating over time, especially during missions that lasted over 10 minutes.
I have no earthly idea why there were no checkpoints during some of the missions, honestly. I rarely got stuck on a level due to dying over and over, but whenever that happened it was during a long mission. It’s my fault that I chose to use a dangerous rocket launcher capable of killing myself if misfired, but at the same time having your squadmates jump in front of your line of fire constantly is quite tiresome. At the same time, when you do kill the giant insects, depending if you take out a lot at once, the map’s floor will be littered with hardened corpses that prevent traversal. It doesn’t make sense that they cause collision issues, especially as they will vanish over time.
If your idea of fun is to shoot lots of bugs and mechs over 12+ hours countless times with a weak story, cringeworthy dialogue, outdated graphics, game-breaking bugs, lack of mission variety at a variably-low frame rate, then Earth Defense Force 2025 is the game for you. There are people who like this kind of stuff, and I’m even one to indulge in other forms of media ironically, but not for as long as the game lasts. Seven years between games in the series was not long enough.
+ Variety of weapons, classes and difficulty settings
+ Better to play with a friend in co-op play
- Boring, repetitive gameplay
- Bad animation, framerate and physics
- Game-breaking bugs (not the killable kind)
- Outdated visuals, especially in 8th year of PS3/Xbox 360 hardware
= B-movie charm, although does not hold over 12+ hours
(A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review.)