Earth De­fense Force 2025

EDGE - - GAMES - Pub­lisher D3 De­vel­oper Sand­lot For­mat 360, PS3 Re­lease Out now

360, PS3

The cliché says Earth De­fense Force is a B-game se­ries, mod­est in its budget and cack-handed in its ex­e­cu­tion, but with a know­ing wink and a sense of fun for those tak­ing it on its own terms. It’s the sim­plest of mod­ern shoot­ers, but has a scale that’s un­matched by any other game. Gi­ant wasps swarm in num­bers that blot out the sun, colos­sal spi­ders flood city streets, bosses fill the hori­zon, and walk­ing ro­bots tower hun­dreds of feet over­head.

Call­ing it a B-game for­gives a lot that’s un­for­giv­able in con­tem­po­rary de­sign. It for­gives the fram­er­ate drops. It for­gives the re­peat­ing tex­tures and the tatty poly­gons. It for­gives the same old lev­els you’ve al­ready played in EDF 2017, and the same old en­e­mies in­tro­duced in the same old or­der.

There’s the tem­plated beach, ravine and city maps; the mod­estly re­tex­tured gi­ant ants, spi­ders, drones and ma­chines; the same saucers in the sky and the same mother­ship with the same at­tacks. But where 2025 tries some­thing new, it’s in­vari­ably both good and bad. The physics pow­er­ing the spec­tac­u­lar build­ing de­struc­tion will leave you rag­dolling down a hill for half a minute or more when it goes wrong. The en­emy ad­di­tions are equally mixed: Shield Bearer ro­bots force you to change your strat­egy, but Re­tiar­ius spi­ders can im­pos­si­bly lasso you from half­way across the map with­out warn­ing.

And the new class sys­tem of­fers va­ri­ety, but the Wing Diver is too weak, the Air Raider too limited and the Fencer too slow to be used alone. They’re all dif­fer­ent flavours of sup­port class built for on­line play, but the sec­ondary classes you’ll have ig­nored and left un­lev­elled in the cam­paign make a poor case for se­lec­tion when you play with friends.

On­line co-op was the fi­nal step for EDF to take af­ter 2017 so thor­oughly ex­plored guns ’n’ bugs, but even in the endgame 2017 never felt quite so mind­less and ex­haust­ing. Its 50 lev­els are dwarfed by the 85 in 2025, where ideas are re­peated and the weapon droprate has been re­duced to ac­com­mo­date the length and in­tended on­line re­plays.

Where 2017 of­fered sur­pris­ing new guns ev­ery few lev­els, 2025 doles them out steadily, al­most as if it were afraid of run­ning out. It never does. Af­ter 30 or 40 lev­els, you’re into the realm of fire-and­for­get hom­ing mis­siles and in­dis­crim­i­nate bul­let hoses. EDF was never about care­ful aim­ing or strate­gic cover or any of the other things that drive mod­ern shoot­ers, though – it’s about su­pe­rior fire­power earned through RPG grind, but 2025 has made the happy grind gru­elling.

EarthDe­fenseForce2025 sim­ply ig­nores Vi­cious Cy­cle’s mid­dling In­sect Ar­maged­don spinoff and slots into the se­ries right af­ter 2017. De­spite the eight-year gap be­tween events, it’s as much a re­make as it is a se­quel

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