Since its debut, the Earth Defense Force series has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. Although largely criticized for its dated graphics and repetitive gameplay, the latest entry, Earth Defense Force 2025, will satisfy your hunger for mindless action and chaos.
Developed once again by Sandlot, Earth Defense Force 2025 sees the return of the EDF as they continue the battle to keep the world safe from giant bugs, robots, and other monstrosities that plague each of the game’s 85+ levels. The story, as expected, is trifle, as EDF 2025 has a decidedly budget feel that’s composed of some truly ridiculous B-movie style dialogue.
Introduced in EDF: Insect Armageddon, EDF 2025 features the most fun soldier classes yet, and unlike most games where classes are minimal deviations from a baseline method of play, changing classes here revamps the entire experience. The Ranger class is your typical soldier, while the Wing Divers fly high above the action. While there’s not much difference in your play style for these classes — beyond the Wing Diver’s limited flight ability — the remaining two classes offer a wholly new style of gameplay. The Air Raider can deploy shields and health generators and even call in vehicle support and air strikes and the heavily armored Fencer has you getting down and dirty up close with its giant spear and thrust attack.
The variety between the four classes offers an immense amount of replay value to EDF 2025‘s already lengthy campaign. Yet no matter which class you choose, your goal is the same: look at mini-map, head to red dots, destroy all red dots, repeat until the “Mission Completed” title flashes up.
The first dozen levels of EDF 2025 make a bad impression, but suffer through those early missions and you’ll get to some more interesting objectives, like breaching and destroying a shield generator or defending against an army of giant robots. These are the moments that make EDF 2025 worth playing, and the game is definitely at its best when the sense of scale exceeds your expectations and presents you with something you’ve genuinely never seen before.
Even though the graphics are rudimentary, the sheer scale of some of the larger enemy ships makes it rather impressive as you fire rockets and watch them crashing and exploding into a tremendous ball of flame. At least the level of destruction matches the output of your weaponry. Buildings crumble after a few rocket blasts, and enemies go flying in every direction when blown up. The amount of mayhem on-screen never stops being fun, though once or twice I hit some slowdown in the framerate.
Even though none of your opponents require much strategy to deal with, the variety of your attackers helps stave off a sense of repetition. Killing foes will reward you with armor upgrades, which increase your character’s maximum health, and new weapons – a whopping 700 different weapons to be exact. From the Air Tortoise to the Torch, there is a weapon to suit everyone’s play style and the vast variety of combat circumstances encourages players to experiment with new weapons each level. The weapons feel powerful, look great, and are plentiful enough that you can swap them out every few missions and always have something fun and new to use. Unlocking these weapons calls back to the initial title, where unique weapon drops depend on difficulty level and soldier class type.
EDF 2025 gives you a number of ways to play multiplayer, letting you do local split-screen co-op with one other player, or hop online by yourself or with a friend playing on the same console. The appeal of EDF 2025 is increased significantly when you play with others, mainly because most classes function best in a supporting role and because there’s so much more opportunity for unpredictable mayhem when there are four players onscreen. It’s a ton of fun to be able to communicate a unique perspective on the battle to your partner and cooperatively decide how to commence from there. There’s also a two-player versus mode, but it’s hardly worth your time.
Whereas modern shooters tend to take themselves too serious, if you’re looking for combat that’s insane, you’ll have fun enlisting in Earth Defense Force 2025. The flaws are easy to list but Earth Defense Force 2025 will keep you busy for a very long time without ever feeling repetitive thanks to the diversity of the game’s classes.
Editor’s Note: Earth Defense Force 2025 was reviewed using a 360 copy of the game. If further investigation reveals any differences between the 360, PC and the PS3 edition of the game, this review will be updated to reflect those differences.