EDF! EDF! EDF!
Sometimes we all get a hankering for some mindless fun and that’s when the EDF series comes in handy. Those crazy cats in Japan created the Earth Defense Force series as a budget-priced third person shooter back in 2005 and now in 2016 Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow Of New Despair washes up on European shores courtesy of Sandlot and PQube Games. Not ones to sit on their laurels, the publishers also released Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders From Planet Space on the PS Vita the same day. You can read our review here.
Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow Of New Despair is an enhanced PS4 port of Earth Defense Force 2025, and the basic plot is: an alien race that the EDF team previously defeated is back for Round Two. This sounds like the plot of just about every other B-movie and that’s because this is where EDF gets its inspiration. So get ready for some ropey dialogue, a slightly dodgy plot and a ridiculous amount of OTT enemies.
Speaking of enemies there is a large number of them to destroy in Earth Defense Force 4.1 and the first you will encounter are insects. All the insects follow the same criteria whether it’s the ant, spiders or bees; they are all giant and buggy. They are like the grunt soldiers, but there are loads of other enemies also lining up to take a pot-shot at you and they include fire breathing dragons, flying drones, a giant humanoid robot (that looks like a pimped-up version of ED209), spaceships, battleships, motherships, three legged walking war machines (that could have stepped off the original War of the World) and even a mysterious monster that has appeared from the sea known as Erginus.
So it’s down to the EDF team to wipe out these invaders from space. This team consists of four different classes of soldier: Ranger (standard soldier), Wing Diver (flying soldier), Air Raider (support soldier), and Fencer (heavily-armoured juggernaut soldier armed with a powerful melee weapon, a shield and an huge OTT weapon). Instead of just giving you access to the vast array of weapons in Earth Defense Force 4.1 the game opts for a loot system. Enemies will randomly drop health, armour and weapons. It is wise to collect all of these when you are playing and a good tip is to leave one final enemy alive so you can collect all the drops.
Normally with the EDF games you’d expect the look to be, how shall I put it, below par? But Earth Defense Force 4.1 is not only graphically superior to its little brother EDF2 on the PS Vita it is visually the best EDF game of the series. Don’t believe me? Take a rocket launcher to an office block and watch that building crumble! Or take a moment to enjoy the splattering of the bug’s red claret on screen. Doesn’t it look glorious? All the details look crystal clear no matter if you are doing the grunt work at ground level or even flying high above all the action as a Wing Diver. The insects and spiders are almost lifelike to the point that my arachnophobia wife left the room while I played it.
One of the biggest draws of the EDF games is its social aspect. For years EDF gamers have been taking the fight online in co-op mode and Earth Defense Force 4.1 encourages you to do the same with its online four player co-op. The D-pad acts as the chat pad and it’s fun to watch and laugh as you get the entire group chanting “EDF! EDF! EDF!” or do an impromptu rendition of “To save Mother Earth.” The game also has a rather snazzy two-player split screen mode for some couch co-op action.
The trophy list for Earth Defense Force 4.1 is monumental. To pop the Platinum you are going to have to devote some serious hours to this game. You’ll need to do sixteen complete playthroughs, as the trophies for completing the missions with each soldier class on the different difficulty levels don’t stack. Then there are trophies for killing thousands upon thousands of bugs and hundreds of spaceships. To top it off there are trophies that require you to dip into co-op play; these are the easier trophies as you can obtain them either online or by playing split screen.
Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair does what all previous EDF games have done so well. That is to provide an almost never-ending stream of mindless fun. Should you get this? Well, hell yeah, it looks fantastic, it plays great, it’s fun, it’s easy to pick up, and there are some great ragdoll physics on display. I mentioned the fun but I should mention it again because it is FUN! So it’s time to stop watching “Bug-ageddon” or “Mutant Shark-Ant Vs Mecha Diet Rola Cola” on the SyFy channel and instead buy this game. EDF! EDF! EDF!
NelMaNo Rating – 9/10