It’s hard to think of anything to say about Earth Defense Force that hasn’t already been said a hundred times over. It’s the kind of game series that doesn’t really innovate in any amazing ways from title to title, and yet it still manages to charm new gamers and seasoned fans alike; Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair is no different. The changes are even less drastic here as this game isn’t really a new entry into the series, but rather an enhanced version of EDF 2025. However, the enhanced graphics, refined gameplay, and various added goodies still make it a fun, albeit repetitive, romp.
Anyone who’s played an Earth Defense Force title will know exactly what to expect here: Little to no exposition and wall to wall giant bug invasion. The game puts you right into the action with no story build up whatsoever, and the foot doesn’t let off the gas until the very end, which can take quite a while. There are nearly 90 missions available to play solo or with a friend on split screen, as well as even more to play online. The amount of game available is definitely not a problem here, but the variety in that gameplay can be.
It certainly won’t bother everybody, but repetition has a tendency to set in for me after blowing up the same giant ants and spiders for the 400th time. There’s a large variety of guns, grenades, and even vehicles to unleash your wrath on the huge insects with, but it still boils down to “point and shoot” so you can see the same death animation for the same insect over and over and over and…. Well, you get the point. Enemy types become a little more varied (and outlandish) as you continue on and the scenery changes — traveling in underground caverns for example — add a little variety, but basic gameplay never sees any dramatic spikes in variety. You do, however, have the option of several different character types which all have their own varying playstyles and weapon types. While the characters don’t change a lot in terms of personality, they are different enough to encourage multiple playthroughs with the different characters, which you will want to do if you want to experience all the different weapon types available to you.
Graphics are also not the best in EDF 4.1, but seeing the improved textures on my PS4 results in the best looking EDF to date. The biggest improvement, however, comes in the rock solid framerate and 1080p resolution; a first for the series and a noticeable improvement over all past entries. Still though, the character models are kind of ugly and occasionally look like something from a high end PS2 game which is a little disappointing, but that is certainly not what the draw for an EDF title is anyway.
What EDF 4.1 has going for it, however, is a goofy B-movie charm that makes it absolutely impossible to hate. It’s like watching Troll 2 and knowing that you should think it’s “bad.” Maybe it is bad, but doggone it, the fact that it exists makes you so happy that you can’t help but love it despite its shortcomings. At any point in the game you can pull up a list of dialogue options to make your character shout out, and they range from ridiculous to hilarious. I never once got tired of hearing my troops chant the EDF fight song in unison. It’s these silly and completely out of context moments that make EDF 4.1 such a charmer. It reminds me a little of Deadly Premonition (my personal all time favorite game) in that it looks and plays out like a budget game that knows it’s a budget game. It takes full advantage of its smaller budget to put a goofy smile on your face in ways a big budget, AAA title simply can’t.
Earth Defense Force 4.1, or any EDF title for that matter, will not scratch everyone’s gaming itch However, if you do not need a big development budget behind your games in order to enjoy them, and you enjoy shooting waves after waves of aliens, then this game will be a weekend on the couch well spent; Especially with a buddy or two.
A PS4 copy of Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow Of New Dispair was provided by XSEED for the purpose of this review
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