Sunday, April 19, 2015

Earth Defense Force 2025 Review

In 2007, gamers got a surprise when Earth Defense Force 2017, the third installment in the Earth Defense Force series, was released in the U.S.  While the game may have lacked visual polish, the fun gameplay and the game's charm made it a cult hit in the U.S.  Since then, a U.S. developed follow-up, Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon, was released, introducing new gameplay concepts to the series as well as a more polished look.  With Earth Defense Force 2025, developer Sandlot has taken the best elements of the previous Earth Defense Force games to create the best installment in the series yet.
Set after the events of Earth Defense Force 2017, the Ravager invasion was stopped and since then, both the world and the Earth Defense Force have rebuilt and grown stronger.  However, in 2025, the Ravagers return once again to try and take over the world, and the Earth Defense Force must stop them once again.  Much like in previous Earth Defense Force games, the story serves as an excuse for the large amount of gunfire and explosions that are about to be exchanged between the Earth Defense Force and the Ravagers.
While gameplay is, by and large, the same style of gameplay seen in previous games in the series, things are different due to the introduction of four different character classes and a very long campaign.  The four classes in Earth Defense Force 2025 are the Ranger, the Wing Diver, the Air Raider, and the Fencer.  The Ranger is your standard EDF soldier previously seen in Earth Defense Force 2017 and Insect Armageddon, where that class was called the Trooper.  While he is the most familiar of the four classes he's also a good choice for veteran players and newcomers to the series.  The Wing Diver is the most swift and agile of the four classes, as her thrusters allow her to fly across the environment and rain death from above onto the enemies.  Because of this, she was my favorite of the four classes, the Air Raider and Fencer, however, are a different story. 
 The Air Raider's main function is calling in air strikes and summoning vehicles onto the battlefield, as well as providing support to other players.  As a result, it's best recommended that you use this character if you play the game with a friend because while you can play as him in single player, things can be a bit more challenging if you play solo.  Finally, there's the Fencer, who is the most powerful of the four classes as he is able to dual wield different combinations of powerful weaponry.  The problem is that he is slow as molasses, while there are thrusters attached to him that allow him to jump high and dash quickly across the level, getting them to perform the right action can be tricky as sometimes you jump up high when you meant to perform his speed dash.
In addition to four different character classes, weapons can also be reloaded, unlike in Earth Defense Force 2017, where the weapons' clips had to emptied entirely before they could be reloaded.  The game is also very long, there are 85 missions to complete in this installment, which took me about 14-15 hours to complete on my first playthrough as the Ranger, and when you consider that there are four characters to play as and five different difficulty options to choose from, you'll have a lot to keep yourself busy with. However, due to the large number of missions, repetition will sink in, which was a problem in previous Earth Defense Force games.  Yet, it never becomes a huge issue because new enemy types are introduced over the course of the game, including giant bees, dragons, and new gunship and carrier types.
The game's visuals are good, about on par with Insect Armageddon in terms of overall quality.  Compared to previous Earth Defense Force games, however, the scale of the environments and the amount of enemies onscreen has been greatly increased.  The increased size of the levels was most noticeable in levels that were set in the metropolitan areas of the city, as there are numerous massive skyscrapers located around the city.  Yet the game does suffer from some framerate drops and on occasion the framerate will take a massive nosedive into the single digits and the next thing you know you're fighting enemies in super slow motion while the framerate slowly picks back up. This also occurred in Earth Defense Force 2017, not only that, but certain glitches from that game reappeared in Earth Defense Force 2025.  Sometimes an insect or gunship may get stuck on the side of a building, but more annoying is that the giant spiders can still shoot their webs through the side of a building and hit you on the other side.
The voice acting is as campy and awesome like the dialogue in previous Earth Defense Force games; the best part is when your allies occasionally break into song to sing their battle chant.  Not only that, but they're also really concerned about getting something to eat after the current mission or possibly getting married once the invasion is over.  The music is also really good; it sounds like it belongs in a summer blockbuster.
Earth Defense Force 2025 is another solid installment in the series, but it's also the best installment yet due to the multiple character classes and the larger sense of ambition the game has.  If you haven't played an Earth Defense Force game yet, this is an excellent choice.
Final Score: 8.5/10

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