I’ve spent the last couple of weeks slaying huge ants, battling massive alien mutant bees and spraying all manner of weaponry at whatever Earth Defense Force 2025 can throw at me. Explosions rock the towns I’m fighting through, buildings topple as my carefully aimed super-missile misses its target by a distance roughly the width of Yorkshire, and the insides of insane numbers of oversized bugs splatter over whatever surface happens to be nearby. It’s totally barking, it’s entirely over the top, and it’s really good fun.
Dropping a storyline of any real meaning other than an alien invasion, bringing the visuals down to levels that most thought a bit ropey back in 2004 and relying on balls-out shoot-the-hell-out-of-everything gameplay might not really appeal to some. Those who look for refined, detailed graphics and an intricate set of gameplay mechanics might want to look away before that unmistakable queasiness sets in, but for an enjoyable experience that requires little or no brainpower much of the time you needn’t look a single pixel further. What EDF does well is allow you to enjoy games the way you used to, way back when lighting effects and advanced particle physics didn’t really have a place in games, and the way to keep people hooked in wasn’t to just include 4 more klllstreak perks than the same game from 12 months before.
So much so that you manage to glaze over and ignore the background music and often-bizarre dialogue (just as well really) and get utterly engrossed in what you’re doing. Despite this, some subconscious thought process keeps your wits sharp enough to keep up with the increasing challenge or enemies which use the huge cities to surround you or back you into a corner. The further you get, the more difficult the enemies get, to the point when you’re facing off against some double-hard bastards while armed to the teeth with huge armour and weapons which could sink an entire continent. These stronger elements in your possession are picked up during the game, and it’s always a nice feeling when you finish a level and find that one of the things you picked up while running round like a headless chicken was an awesome new bit of kit that launches high explosives at whatever happens to be in your way.
Controls are tight enough to work well, even though they bear no resemblance to any shooting game made in the last 5 years. Your character will rarely back himself into a corner or get stuck, and if you end up being clobbered by ant phlegm it’s either because you weren’t paying attention or just let yourself get overrun and surrounded. In terms of playability, EDF is exactly where it needs to be for you to have fun among all the chaos. The missions can feel a bit samey during long playing sessions despite efforts to mix things up a bit, but whether this is just down to the lack of visual variety or the endless task of doing the same shooty job throughout isn’t all that clear. Issues are avoided if you forget the idea of playing for 3 or 4 hours at a time, and much like arcade games from previous generations this is far more enjoyable in shorter bursts.
Ultimately you need to ask yourself one question: do you like the idea of running around huge towns shooting huge weapons at huge insects, to cause huge explosions and sending huge ants and huge buildings scattering into huge numbers of pieces? If so then you should just go and by EDF 2025, because nothing else beyond the EDF games lets you do that in a way that’s anywhere near as fun. If you’re more likely to focus on the unimpressive visuals, the similarity in some of the missions or the uninspiring audio work then you might as well go back to whatever you were playing already. But do that and you’ll be missing out on some genuine good fun. Give it a go, you might be surprised.
Reviewed on PS3