In my review of Earth Defence Force 2025, I wrote that giving an objective opinion on the latest EDF game is like giving an objective opinion on life.
It’s very true of Earth Defence Force 4.1 as well, mainly due to the fact that this is a remake of the PS3 and Xbox 360 game. This is a game that involves shooting, a ton of guns and little else. That’s not a criticism, though.
If you’ve already played EDF 2017, or even the US spin-off Insect Armageddon, then you’ll know exactly what to expect here. The task is simple; giant insect creatures that have lain dormant under the Earth are ravaging the world and it just so happens that an alien invasion is happening at the same time. Coincidence? I think not.
Choosing from an initially-small range of weaponary, it’s up to you and the other EDF troops to save the planet by blasting anything that doesn’t look human into a million pieces. That’s pretty much your brief for the whole game.
In between the blasting you’ll want to grab crates dropped by dead insects and aliens. The more you gather, the more chance there is of finding cool new weapons to lock and load. Some crates provide instant healing, some armour that can be added to your suit once the level is complete, and other contain weapons that are opened up after you finish the mission. The weapons are random and most will be guns or grenades that you already own, but that chance of getting the next big missile or over-powered rifle is always there, daring you to go pick up the green crate right under that giant robot’s feet. It does add an extra element of strategy, especially as once the last alien on screen is killed you get about 5 seconds to scoot around and clear up anything left over (this isn’t very long).
Big weapons are certainly needed for later missions and some suit certain types better than others. Taking down spacecraft is much easier with a rocket launcher than even the most powerful guided missile as you’ll find it hard to get a good lock on in time. Missiles are better for other large targets, though, so knowing what the mission holds is essential. This often means that playing each level once and dying becomes a normal event, before going back with the right guns to finish the job.
Graphically, 4.1 is certainly an upgrade over 2025, though perhaps not quite as much as some of the other HD remakes. What has been improved is the frame rate. Even with hundreds of ant or giant robots filling the screen, the action remains smooth.
What else has been upgraded? Well the missions remain pretty much the same but the developers have managed to add a bigger squad and tanks which help you fight the enemy. If left alone these team-mates will unfortunately fall to the enemy, bravely heading straight into the battle. Help to keep the enemy off their back, though, and you’ll have a good support team.
The random banter dialogue from your team (including such choice lines as “Do you have a girl back home?”, “Why did you get married?” and “Let’s go to that one place when we get back”) is still there and I’m sure that there are even more of these choice phrases this time around.
As with every EDF, there is a real sense of B-movie budget to the game, but that’s what the fans (I include myself here) expect, it all adds to the atmosphere. The voice acting, tons of monsters, basic storyline are all deliberate.
For those who’ve played EDF 2025 you’ll already know whether you want to revisit all the same missions with the improved graphics and frame-rate and with incremental updates to the game. For everyone else it’s a bit of a harder sell, but if you like the idea of mindlessly blasting hundreds of huge insects, robots, dragons and destroying most of the Japanese landscape in the process, this is the game for you.