Saturday, 8 March 2014

Earth Defence Force 2025

While playing Sandlot's new Earth Defence Force 2025 all the way through to completion, I came to both a positive and a negative realisation: The former being at times one should just have fun with a game and try not to take it too seriously. The latter that in a game that already looks like a souped-up version of crazy taxi, an extreme drop in frame rate is completely unforgivable.

The latest instalment of EDF has much the same story as it's previous iterations: Aliens attack by utilising giant bugs to soften up humanity before descending from the inky black to finish the job themselves. Not much more is really touched upon and there isn't any vast need to do so; all you really need to know is that the earth is under attack and you need to use 750 weapons spread across four specialised classes (the highest number of weapons in any EDF game to date) to fix everything.

As far as visuals are concerned, the developers have very obviously chosen scale over looks. It's eye-shreddingly hideous to the point that I deliberately avoided the flying class, purely so I wouldn't have to take to the skies, only to see a vast expanse of featureless blobs gradually distinguish themselves as sad trees or ugly buildings as I approached. This would all be bearable if the frame rate was consistent all the way through, but a few times the game completely locked down – displaying what I could only describe as a circus explosion – forcing me to cease all movement and wait for the game to speed up again which I found very disengaging.

In terms of mechanics, it's pretty standard for a third-person shoot 'em up. The controls are quite responsive and well thought out for the classes you can choose in the game, which incidentally are very fun to play. The four classes are comprised of Ranger; your typical soldier class, Wing Diver; the class I played the least due to it's ability to fly and therefore make your eyes bleed, the Air Raider; an interesting support class that can either provide synergy or call in vehicles and air strikes to cause massive damage, and my personal favourite; the Fencer. This class is essentially a walking tank, capable of holding four weapons at once which enable it to deliver the highest damage output in the game. It's a slow-mover but none of that matters when you can take out and entire swarm of giant ants with double Gatling guns, switching to an enormous sword when they get too close. Aaaah, balance.

The soundtrack is nearly non-existent, with ambient, forgettable music and the constant barrage of repetitive sound files being screeched from each civilian you pass, of which there are many. All this interspersed with clumsy, insipid and, at times cringe-worthy dialogue from your fellow soldiers and commanding officers.

The local multiplayer is tons of fun, as class combinations can be very satisfying. An example of this would be teaming up an Air Raider with a Fencer: The Air Raider can mark targets with a targeting laser, which will then enable the Fencer to use an incredibly destructive weapon only able for use in conjunction with the targeting laser. This is only one of multiple example of how this game is made better with teamwork. I would say the same about the online play, but when the frame rate and potential lag meet in dreadful coalescence, the game becomes more of a chore than anything else.

All in all Earth Defence Force is not a bad game, it is just let down in an unfortunately important area. The aforementioned visuals are forgiveable as long as the frame rate doesn’t drop – but it does, more often than I'm able to overlook. When this game does come together though, I feel like a child who's been given a bag of change and pushed into an arcade. This kind of feeling is rare indeed. 

Painful to look at but still fun to play, Earth Defence Force 2025 gets a 3/5, []

Thomas Lees

Earth Defence Force 2025 at CeX

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