Earth Defense Force 5 Review
Earth Defense Force 5 Review
Release Date: December 11, 2018
Developer/Publisher: Sandlot/D3 Publisher
Platform: PlayStation 4
Price: $59.99 standard, $89.99 Deluxe
You have to be in the mood for a good B Movie. Unironically showing a Mystery Science Theater 3000 level movie to a friend without the slapstick overlay can be wondrously pleasant or terribly awkward depending on how it is received. This kind of humor, intentional or otherwise, is difficult to translate to the gaming sphere, as a game has to be fun in order to be worth seeing through to the end. The Earth Defense Force series takes classic kaiju style battles and some Starship Trooper bug squashing and drops it into a blender no matter what it looks like.
Earth Defense Force 5 plays like a Dynasty Warriors game ripped from the Far East and plunked down in a sci-fi scenario. Everything comes after you, from a swarm of hundreds of bus-sized ants to UFO's and giant towering monsters. The plot is paper-thin and played out through battlefield conversations. Gamers can choose four different troop types, be it traditional infantry, power suits akin to those in the Alien franchise that can carry massive weapons, tactical engineers who can call in air drops and vehicles to combat the menace, or rocket powered super soldiers with laser cannons. In the end it boils down to take your boomstick and point it at the enemy horde until they are dead. As you power through you collect new weapons and upgrades to slowly build your mega bug exterminator into a walking juggernaut. What it lacks in detailed storyline it makes up for in levels and customization, with over 100 levels and 1000 different weapons to unlock. Most of the ones I've worked with are varied enough to mess around with to find the right combination.
Graphics are a bit simple, looking more like late-gen PS3 than pushing the limits of the current generation. This is likely to allow for more enemies on the screen at once. Waves of insects, UFO's, and such swarm you relentlessly and it's up to you and your team to make as many of them 'splode as possible.
EDF5 can be tackled solo or you can go online for up to four player battles. Wondrously there is also a two-player local game mode allowing you to squish bugs with your couch buddy. No matter what you choose you go through a basic tutorial level in an underground base to learn your infantry's control scheme before you head out into the apocalyptic land of monsters and aliens. The tutorial is tedious. You're in a giant underground base listening to a generic marine trooper tell you what to do and how to do it, complaining if you fall behind but arguing if you go too far ahead, all the while blathering on about how surprised he is when he sees monsters. A lot. This part prevails into the rest of the game. As I fought back wave after wave of GIANT ANTS and such, nobody would stray from the word "monster." "DIE YOU MONSTER!" "THERE ARE MONSTERS EVERYWHERE!" 'LOOKS LIKE THE MONSTER'S SPITTING SOMETHING!" People, you're in a panic, but all the enemies here are ants. It feels like they recorded generic "monster" to use it again later. There's also plenty of corny dialogue. "They killed my comrade! Time for revenge!" *deadpan* "anyone capable of moving must fight."The identity of the UFO's remains unknown. Since there are reports around the globe it is speculated that there are multiple UFO's in different areas." All this comes in over your headset/intercom at various volumes and sound quality. While all this audio corniness sounds like a complaint, it actually bodes well for what the game is trying to do. The game reeks B-Movie charm, and the bad acting (right up there with the "master of unlocking") enhances that feeling even further.
Earth Defense Force feels like a game you'd run across in an arcade: who cares for story, pick some big guns and kill things! Some classes may be better suited for certain battles, and replayability comes in picking the perfect class and high caliber weapons for the high score or quick time, or opting for an underdog and seeing if you can overcome anyways. Battlefields will overflow with enemies until you gun down every last one of them. This is the perfect kind of game to wind down with after a stressful day of work. I did not get a chance to try the online mode for multiplayer but I can only imagine it being complete chaos and fun. Teaming up with a buddy to take down the bug swarms will be awesome as long as the netcode provides for a fun experience.
If I had any complaint about the game it would be that the tutorials are so mandatory. You really need to learn all four classes separately as they really are different and the tutorial is tedious. This is counterbalanced by how different each character is translates to a whole different way to make it through each level, adding replay value. My second complaint would be the eventual tedium that sets in. Waves of the exact same monster come in the hundreds and it eventually feels like a bit of a slog to get through. Getting to the battles with the larger kaiju and jumping in the giant mech make it all worthwhile though.
Earth Defense Force has a cult following, much like some of the classic B-Movies of the day. It provides the core fun of video games by giving you a gun and letting you kill anything that doesn't look like people. It may be a hair light on story and a hair thick on customization, but it still provides a wild ride. Four wildly varying classes and a bevy of weapons will keep you coming back for more challenges as long as you can deal with the tedium of repetitive waves. It may look a little rough around the edges, but this B-Game is bringing it's A-Game.
-Four different troop types mix and match in solo and multiplayer for a lot of variety
-Hundreds of enemies and levels to blast through
-Cheesy B-Movie dialogue
-So many weapons with general names that they can get mixed up from time to time
-The bad acting may be a bit much for some
-There's only so many ways to kill a bug
Special thanks to Sandlot and D3 Publisher for providing a copy of the Standard Edition for review!