Earth Defense Force 2025 might be brilliant for all the wrong reasons.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t a follow-up to Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon, the Western-developed offshoot that “fixed” a lot of Earth Defense Force 2017’s “problems.” Insect Armageddon was a solid game in its own right, but by addressing the Japanese-developed series’ flaws, as well as streamlining and polishing the gameplay and graphics, a lot of the original series' charm was lost.
It’s a little hard to explain, but 2017’s problems were a big part of what made it so good. Characters would blast poorly-acted nonsense over their radio, buildings would crumble like cardboard from your rockets, and the armies of bugs cared little for your framerate. At the heart of it was a simple premise – kill bugs, get better weapons, and fight faster and stronger bugs on higher difficulties. Oh, and there are robots too.
2025, the direct sequel to 2017, also aims to fix 2017’s problems, but with the same misguided slant that created this series in the first place. Maybe “misguided” is the wrong word, because Sandlot seems to know exactly what they’re doing. Buildings no longer fall to one rocket, but they still fall in spectacular fashion. They’re also huge, and sometimes covered in enormous spider webs. Ants don’t bite you with a complete lack of feedback anymore. Instead, they grab you in their pincers and ragdoll your poor defenseless body in hilarious fashion. They even fixed the cheap-looking 2D weapon pickups and health kits with 3D, polygonal models. Now they also have physics and fly around the environment in silly fashion.
Simply put, the game seems to be a true follow-up to 2017. It’s not necessarily better, but it’s bigger, it’s more varied, and it’s janky in good ways. Compared to 2017, the game is far more detailed, with longer draw distances, more detailed buildings, more bugs, and different types of playable characters.
Similar to Insect Armageddon, EDF 2025 has four classes to choose from, though the variety seems far more interesting this time around. The Ranger class is your stock EDF 2017 guy, while the Wing Diver plays similarly to her EDF2 and EDF 2017 Portable counterpart. Beyond that, two entirely new classes mix up the gameplay styles even further. I didn’t have a chance to try them, but the Air Raider class is a healer who can summon vehicles and call in air raids; while the Fencer is a heavily armored, slow-moving brute with massive power weapons. Considering the Ranger alone has dozens of cool weapons in 2017, the idea of four classes with their own weapon sets is pretty exciting.
It’s worth noting that the game retains the two player split-screen that makes this series so great for couch co-op. Additionally, EDF 2025 introduces four player online co-op, which sounds insane and destined for lag and framerate issues…but, I really hope it works because it'd be amazing.
The bottom line: Earth Defense Force 2025 is a faithful addition to the series and it retains the B-grade fun that made the previous games such a hit with its particular audience. That said, this cheesy, mindless shooter series isn’t for everyone. If you only have time for the highest quality, artistic, important games out there, you’ll probably want to skip Earth Defense Force, but for those who love the idea of shooting giant bugs and robots, 2025 may end up being the best title in this series to play.
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