Earth Defense Force 2025 takes itself about as seriously a SyFy original film would. Tonally, it’s a little bit Starship Troopers and part Godzilla, offering up non-stop, mindless bug-killing action. Missions aren’t very complex; hundreds of giant enemies are about to drop into the environment…kill them all. And that’s about the extent of it. Shoot bugs, dragons, and alien ships, while working alongside various squad members, each with a unique skill-set.
Throughout our review session we took each of the four classes – Ranger, Wing Diver, Raider, Fencer – for a test drive, but ended up sticking with Wing Diver for 90% of the campaign. Wing Divers have the advantageous luxury of getting around through use of a jetpack, which allows faster navigation than any other class. In fact, the ground-troops move very slowly by comparison and there’s no run button, so Wing Divers often reach and eradicate majority of the enemies on certain stages before you can get in on the action. During a 2-player cooperative playthrough, we found ourselves matching classes with our teammate to maintain equal opportunities — online is another story.
When four people get together online to form a diverse team, they can do some serious damage. Send the Fencer — a heavily armored, high-damage-dealing type — after the largest enemies. The Wing Divers can rush straight to the spawn points to stop the enemies from flooding in. Task the standard solider, the Ranger, to clear up the grunts with ease. And lastly, the Air Raider can assists teammates by calling in vehicles and air strikes. It's equally rewarding and exciting if you properly balance out a team, all willing to work together to achieve success. We did endure the occasional server disconnect closer to launch, but recently things have been much smoother. It needs to be said that anyone who doesn’t like to engage in online combat or couch co-op, may not get much from this multiplayer-centric package.
As hinted at previously, the missions — all 85 of them — don’t really deviate from running and gunning, with a clear goal of exterminating all opposition. It’s an arcade-style action that, at its core, remains fairly shallow. Most of the slaughter sessions take place in cities with large skyscrapers for the bugs to treat like a jungle gym – though beach fronts and sprawling hills will also be visited. The amount of space that is available to navigate during a given mission is impressive, especially with the staggering number of enemies and explosions onscreen. It’s very clear that the developers were okay with sacrificing high frame rates and top-of-the-line visuals to make this happen, but thankfully these blemishes rarely impose on the gameplay.
Between missions you’ll have the opportunity to switch classes, check out whatever weapons you acquired on the previous level, and most importantly, catch your breath. Killing, literally, hundreds of monsters while inadvertently — or intentionally, depending on your thirst for chaos — demolishing city streets can take a lot out of a man, and it can be quite addicting as well. This is a third-person shooter that wants to delight and entertain by producing pandemonium in the streets, and on that it most certainly delivers. Simplicity aside, EDF is an absolute blast of a time.
Many people may argue that the gameplay is too repetitive or that the technical hiccups should warrant a lower score, but we believe this is a game that is what it wants to be, one that isn't afraid to sacrifice superior performance to ensure you're having a good time — and in the end isn't fun the most important thing? Grab a buddy and a case of beer, turn off your thinking caps, and indulge in an explosive dose of unadulterated, bug-killing fun.
Earth Defense Force 2025 is the type of game that sacrifices technical efficiency to deliver larger-than-life action that's consistently a chaotic blast. Sure, it's a lot of silliness with little explanation, but that's part of what makes it so charming. If you can get a buddy in the same room for couch co-op, that’s the way to go; if not, online play should be enough to recommend a purchase – just expect the occasional connection issue.
Prepare to be on the edge of your seat, eyes wide, laughing in amazement at your accomplishments, leaving you to wonder how you managed to survive the screen-filling magnitude of hulking insects time after time.