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Earth Defence Force 2025

19:0018/03/2014Posted by Chris BraithwaiteNo Comments

Seven years have passed since Earth Defence Force 2017, when the EDF heroically defended the Earth from an invasion of aliens and giant insects. And now it’s time for them to it all again in Earth Defence Force 2025 (let’s just ignore the maths there – the game repeatedly refers to a seven year gap since the last case of giant insect infestation), because insects are sprouting out of the ground and aliens are dropping out of the sky. But defeating the rampaging hordes of giant aliens and giant insects isn’t the EDF’s crowning achievement. The crowning achievement is doing so in a game that makes such a ridiculous achievement feel incredibly dull.

Earth Defence Force 2025 isn’t a particularly bad game. The shooting mechanics are fine, if shallow. The progression of weapons and armour allows the game to ramp up the action throughout its fairly lengthy run time. And the combination of highly explosive weapons, mostly unlimited ammo, and highly destructible cityscapes opens up the opportunity to experience some enjoyable, truly cathartic architecture-and-arachnid killing sprees. Honestly, after the typical level, there’d probably be less property damage if the Earth was just handed over to the aliens and insects to do with as they wish.

The choice between four different kinds of soldier is also of credit to EDF2025. In addition to the standard Ranger foot soldier, you’ve got the Air Raider (a support class able to call in air strikes and vehicles), the Fencer (a dodgily-controlled heavy armour, heavy weapons class) and the Wing Diver (a lightly armoured jet-pack class). While each class offers something a little different (particularly the Wing Diver, who allows the battle for the Earth to be taken to the skies), there’s rarely a combat situation that requires you to use anything other than the Ranger.

Despite the attempts for variety, EDF2025’s main problem is just the sheer repetitive nature of the game. Single player missions consist of killing every enemy and little else. You’ve also got the (increasingly rare) option of split screen co-operative multiplayer, as well as co-operative and competitive online play. The co-operative gameplay simply replicates the single player experience with more players. It at least adds a little bit of camaraderie to mindlessly plowing through the game’s many missions, and it does open up opportunities for combining the skills of the various classes. But doing so is to construct a Rube Goldberg machine to kill a giant insect; the Ranger’s default assault rifle does a perfectly fine job with much less fuss. The competitive multiplayer experience feels like the epitome of tacked-on multiplayer modes. It adds nothing to the package, featuring as it does in a game with maps and mechanics singularly ill-suited to modern multiplayer experiences.

It’s undeniable that it is hugely entertaining to destroy a whole city district while hunting down your foes, but it’s also amazing how quickly this becomes boring. There’s no nuance in terms of tactics in the game: the sole tactic is to shoot the largest possible amount of ordinance into everything that’s a) bigger than a human being and b) moving, until there’s everything has either exploded into chunks smaller than a human being, or has stopped moving.

Beyond the lack of variety, EDF2025 possesses quite a few qualities that may be deal breakers to many players. For a start, how are you with bugs? Do you generously scoop up a stray spider and place him safely outside? Or do you spy the tiny beasty and run screaming from the room, the house (the country if necessary) to put sufficient distance between you and the vile creature?

If it’s the former, well, given the sheer volume of insecticide (and, technically, arachnicide) that occurs EDF2025 is probably not the game. If it’s the latter, EDF2025 certainly isn’t the game for you. It features 40-foot long ants. Spiders with legs that would dwarf most road vehicles, capable of leaping over buildings in a single bound, and spinning webs that take multiple shots from rocket launchers before succumbing. And those are just the drone-type enemies that feature in the first couple of levels.

But hey, maybe you’re ok with repetitive shooters, as long as they’re pretty. After all, it’d be easy to put together an argument that pretty-but-repetitive shooters are modern gaming’s dominant lifeform. Unfortunately for EDF2025, it doesn’t stand up well in comparison to the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield, games that make beige beautiful. In fact, it’s a deeply ugly game. In some ways, this is fine. The world isn’t ready for photorealistic renditions of rampaging armies of spiders, each the size of my apartment block. Or at least I’m not ready for that. But there’s no escaping that, in the early days of a new console generation, EDF2025 looks like the product of the early PS3/360 era. And not even a pretty product of it.

Once you add the poor graphics to weak AI (insects are regularly confused by buildings) and spotty voice acting, it’s easy to say that EDF2025 is one of the poorest presented games of the last few years. The in-game audio often explains how the giant insects have evolved since EDF2017, and the EDF have trained themselves to a sharpened edge over the last seven years, but it seems like Sandlot haven’t updated their technologies or practices since 2006.

Maybe this review is overly harsh. EDF2025’s whole premise is pure B-movie, and the gameplay, graphics and audio would certainly reinforce this as a design choice. But the problem with B-movies is that they are rarely actually any good. More often, they feature an interesting premise, but fail to live up to the premise thanks to weak execution. That’s a fair comparison for EDF2025: fighting hordes of giant insects and aliens with high-explosive weaponry in cities comprised of fully destructible environments? As a pitch, EDF2025 sounds like buckets of fun. In execution, it’s just boring, and it long outstays its welcome.

Earth Defence Force 2025 was reviewed on PS3 with a review code provided by Namco-Bandai.

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