Reviews: Earth Defense Force 2025

(EDF 4.1 review) The spirit of Serious Sam, upgraded for modern times

In a world of increasingly complex shooters, Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair is quite refreshing. I've never played an EDF game before, but I'm glad I discovered this one on Steam.

The gameplay is simple. Your job is to kill all enemies in any mission. You have several character classes: the Ranger, who can walk quickly and fire powerful weapons and occasionally pilot a tank, the Wing Diver, who can fly but has low defense, a support class who can't attack directly at first, and a very slow heavy-weapons user. I stuck to the Wing Diver the entire time after trying the other classes. She can fly. This game has a lot of verticality. You do the math.

The game is divided into 89 missions, and nearly all could be summed up as "kill all enemies". The enemies are cheesy B-movie staples and Japanese clichés. Giant ants. Giant spiders that shoot web and pull you towards them. Giant robots. Flying drones. A Godzilla-like monster. Dragons.

What makes the missions different is things such as setting (cities, mountainsides, beach, underground caves), enemy layout, and the existence or non-existence of civilians or soldiers. Sometimes defeating one wave of enemies triggers a second wave, and sometimes enemies are tactically laid out to force you to deal with them intelligently. If you're playing as the Wing Diver, you can use your jetpack to fly on top of buildings and attack enemies from up high or from a far distance and be more or less safe; however, some enemies can climb buildings easily, and others can destroy them!

Civilians and soldiers serve as targets for the enemies. Enemies spread off in many directions and chase after everyone. Soldiers can also help out in the battle and are quite useful at shooting down enemies for you. Sometimes luring enemies towards allies or vice versa can help a lot, as your allies take the fight to them and serve as a distraction. However, you'd better hope that some of them stay alive, because if you're the only one left, all enemies make a beeline straight for you!

Aside from that, the gameplay is delightfully stupid. Civilian or soldier deaths mean nothing. Buildings destroyed by either enemy attacks or your own attacks mean less cover to hide behind or on, but that's about it. The game is very much a straight-up action game with no secondary objectives, and no penalty for being reckless. It's also a wonderful spectacle to look at. Even though the graphics of the characters and environs are PS2-quality, the game takes full advantage of modern hardware's ability to render enormous numbers of moving things at once. It's simply crazy to see dozens of giant ants chasing after people, eating civilians, being shot at by soldiers, while you fly overhead a massive city with your jetpack and witness a building blown by up a giant robot.

It's stupid fun, very much pick up and play, and mixes old-school mentality with modern tech to create a fresh and fun experience.