Monday, 7 March 2016

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair

There’s something about a cult game. Usually one that achieves such a status doesn’t look too great, doesn’t play too well, and its appeal confuses the hell out of most people. For over a decade now Earth Defense Force has fallen under that umbrella where it’s B-movie quality is intentional but still garners that “love it or hate it” mentality. Which side does this reviewer fall on? EDF! EDF! EDF! EDF!

Developed by Sandlot and out now for PlayStation 4, Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair is bloody stupid! It’s bloody stupid and I mean that in the absolute best way possible. It’s like a dog with a stupidly happy look on its face that runs into a door frame when chasing after it’s toy and then falling on its own accord onto its face while maintaining that idiotic smile when trying to return that toy. But guess what? You love that dog! Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair is that dog.

If you’ve never encountered Earth Defense Force before then it’s very simple to break down into a sentence: You are part of a team that must stop an invasion of Earth by aliens that are actually insects and robots. Makes sense, right? You will face thousands of them in fully destructible levels and that’s honestly about it. But it is a ton of fun. You may be killing countless enemies but it feels incredibly good. The way the giant ants react to your assault rifle bullets, the cacophony of orange blood that spews on impact of an explosive, and the different approaches that are rewarded for taking out different types of enemies are all incredibly satisfying.

In some ways it’s repetitive but it also mixes things up. There are a number of different types of enemies here to dispose of and each mission changes the enemy format somewhat. Couple this with fun and rather addicting progression and you’ve got the basis of an obsession. Each mission will be filled with both armour and weapon drops that magically fall out of the enemies when you kill them. The weapons will vary in type, level, and what they do and it almost becomes an Action Role Playing game not too dissimilar to something like Diablo or Destiny. Armour will increase your armour number allowing you to take more hits from enemies.

The game is made for multiple playthroughs on different difficulties and features almost 200 missions across both its single-player and multiplayer modes. Couple this with multiple classes and the fact that there is a separate online mode and you start to realise that if this games scratches the right itch for you then you might be in for a mighty undertaking.

There’s also something therapeutic about Earth Defense Force 4.1. It’s easy to pick up and play and with so many things to shoot at, you can easily relax your head and mindlessly slaughter thousands of insects, sorry, “aliens”. I couldn’t help but drift off listening to podcasts as I took down a few missions, upping my armour level and picking up awesome new weapons and testing them out in the following mission. Don’t expect a story that rivals, well, anything else really. This is proper B-Movie material with awful voice acting and dialogue that’s hilariously bad. It adds to the aesthetic which is very much in the same vein. It’s a corny dish with plenty of cheese and you’ll either love it or hate it.

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadows of Despair is a simple game but one that you could lose dozens of hours to. It’s also an acquired taste but for me, I would go back for seconds every single time. It’s not one of those “so bad it’s good” more like its “good because it’s bad” scenarios.

It looks pretty bad and plays simplistically so I’m giving it 4/5.


Jason Redmond

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair at CeX

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