Earth Defense Force 5 (PS4) Review29/12/2018
Earth Defense Force 5 is the latest entry in the long-running EDF series; which first launched in 2003 as Monster Attack in Japan. The EDF series is known for its campy, B-movie setting where players go head-to-head with unlimited waves of giant bugs which are basically extraterrestrial beings from a different planet.
Much like previous titles in the bug killing franchise, Earth Defense Force 5 is pretty thin on story. As a nameless protagonist, your base camp is being invaded by gigantic ants trying to decimate you and your buddies. Your main goal here is to survive and overcome the alien invasion.
EDF5 doesn’t stray far from the standard formula. It is a third person shooter where players can shoot, jump, dodge and run. To avoid the monotony of repetition (using this term lightly), players can choose between four different character classes:
Ranger: This is the most useful and well-rounded class. Moves at a decent speed and is equipped with an assault rifle and rocket launcher out the gate.
Wing Diver: This class has a very useful jetpack which allows players to reach new heights. Her weapons are a short range machine gun and a laser gun. Both weapons use the same power bar as the jetpack. She’s also the character with the least health but is a bit more nimble.
Air Raider: This is the most useless class for a solo run. This one is more of a supportive role than offensive. This character can drop health station for fellow players or uses air assistance to take out the alien forces.
Fencer: This is the tank class of the game and is much slower than the other classes, carries a Gatling gun which takes a few minutes to heat up and fire; leaving players vulnerable and open for damage. He also has a shield to block incoming damage, but obviously cannot be used at the same time as the weapon.
Each class also has their unique set of skills and weapons which can be unlocked as the player progresses through the game. After completing each level, players can unlock a plethora of new equipment; weapons (short, medium and long range) and gear. The characters’ health will also increase slowly, but simultaneously; meaning if you use the Ranger for most of the game, but decide to switch to the Wing Diver, her health will be increased.
As players rack up kills in every level, the alien carcass will often drop different type of boxes labelled weapon or armour. Picking up each and every one of those boxes is vital as they unlocked new weaponry for future use.
Unlocked weapons gear can be switched in between missions in order to give players a step above the competition and be ready for whatever is thrown at you. The main addendum with this is the fact that if you choose a cumbersome and crappy weapon, you’re stuck with it for the length of the mission, which can cause frustration and death. Sure, there’s an alternate weapon which can be used, but most of the time it’s a slower, albeit more powerful gun, it won’t be very efficient for quick fire.
Which brings me to the mission design. Thankfully, missions are short. Each mission will last between 5 and 15 minutes where your efficiency is key to completing missions faster. One the prime examples are that a mission requires players to voluntarily piss off a swarm of flying objects in order to destroy them as they are not in an offensive kind of mood; so having a short-range weapon or a gun that spread its gunfire too much will make this mission painfully long. The upside of short missions is that this game is perfect for some bursts of playtime, but also because you’ll find yourself bored after playing 2-3 missions consecutively. They are taking the rinse-repeat method very seriously. The pattern is always the same: start a level, find the waves of enemies, kill them, move on to the next point, kill the alien forces, mission over.
So you must be wondering how it’s possible to overcome this tediousness? Thankfully, the game offers both local and online multiplayer where you can play with friends around the world or on the couch. Having a friend by your side, locally or virtually, will make things more fun.
For those who do not have a headset for online multiplayer fun, the developer has implemented a set of preset sentences which can be used to “talk” with fellow players. Players can bring up the conversational menu via the gamepad’s d-pad.
For a 15-year-old franchise, the game’s presentation hasn’t changed much. Visually speaking, while the game does adapt a bit to the new-gen, there’s not much difference between this and Xbox 360’s Earth Defense Force Insect Armageddon; which feels like a missed opportunity. Not that the game looks really bad by any means, but no one will remember this game for its visuals. For the audio part of the game, the score is pretty forgettable and it’s also drowned out by the sound effects of firing weapons and aliens blowing up but also by the cringe-worthy voiceover work by your A.I. buddies. I can understand giving the game the full B-movie treatment, but after a while, the banter of the NPCs is quite annoying and doesn’t bring anything to the experience; it’s not even funny.
Earth Defense Force 5 does what it’s supposed to do: it’s gaming’s answer to campy B-movie experience: fun for a few minutes, repetitive and annoying characters. Despite the various flaws, the game can be enjoyed for a certain amount of time, especially with friends, but for solo play, depending on your tolerance for repetitiveness, this can get old fast. Unlocking new weapons and gear is not enough to keep players enthralled for long period of times.