to join the CVG community. Not a member yet? Join now!
CVG
11 Reviews

Review: Earth Defense Force 2025 is tragically excellent

By Rob Crossley on Wednesday 26th Feb 2014 at 9:45 AM UTC

Earth Defense Force 2025 often resembles a game with all its cheat modes activated at the same time.

That's not the jocular 'DK Mode' variety either. Think instead of console commands in Steam, only imbued with the wisdom of Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel. Enemy_size_11. Explosion_strength_11. Enemy_quantity_11. Overabundance_11.

Everything EDF 2025 stands for is pushed to eleven. It is a berserk action game that doesn't think or reflect. It demonstrates an unwavering preference for chaos over narrative, for disorder over design and for excess over everything else. It is exactly what interactive entertainment would resemble today if the entire medium underwent artistic paralysis since the 16-Bit era.

EDF 2025 is a polygonal Super Smash TV; a mindless, artless, directionless blam-blam-blam through an open-world city. Yet it is also inexplicably lovable.

Lovable but repulsive. The sheer quantity and scale of enemies can grind the frame-rate below the thirties, whilst frequently dragging it to the mid-teens during split-screen co-op. Yet for a game so devoid of production values, this judder almost becomes a welcome graphical effect. Your Xbox 360 and PS3 not coping only signifies EDF's stupefying overindulgence.

To compensate for the manic computational demands, EDF 2025 is extraordinarily ugly. It depicts dense cities assembled at their lowest possible poly count. Roads are paved with nothing and the building textures are bereft of craftsmanship. At times it feels like you're wandering through a 3D map editor, browsing stock skyscraper models. Were it not for the swarm of aliens and your gang of shouty Starship Troopers, EDF 2025 would not resemble something that is supposed to categorically represent entertainment.

Still, when gawping at walking alien robot that's legitimately bigger than most villages, the processor-friendly war zones are justifiable. EDF 2025 sacrifices nearly everything we've come to appreciate about games for the sake of unstoppable, screen-filling monsters to kill. Shameful as it is, the approach often pays off.

What is truly perplexing is how such primitive design results in relaxing gameplay. EDF 2025 is a comfort game, where players run around aimlessly shooting at anything that moves, oblivious to how they are gazing into space, slipping away, gradually working on auto-pilot, shutting down most of their brain functions aside from a few necessary reflex synapses.

Zoom
The frame rate struggles to cope as hordes of enemies flood the screen

The audio in its entirety is surplus to requirements - which presumably is some kind of record - and inadvertently makes EDF 2025 the perfect distraction for those who want to keep their eyes busy whilst listening to podcasts or new music. Indulging in this kind of masturbatory dual-entertainment orgy will make you resemble a monged-out media sponge that should be condemned on BrassEye or Fox News, but it's 2014 so just go with it.

And fear not if there's nothing else to listen to; EDF 2025 is a treasure trove of hilariously poor audio that carries the spirit of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. In those brief moments of calm in between symphonies of explosions and screaming, for example, you suddenly are reminded that Japanese elevator metal has been playing in the background the whole time.

The dialogue, meanwhile, is exquisitely terrible and perhaps intentionally so. Squadmates, in the midst of chaotic battle scenes, shout lines like "I forgot the bullets" and "die so that we may live". Elsewhere there's a layered, long-winded joke of how the alien invaders are - unmistakably - giant ants, spiders and bees, yet not once are these nouns uttered during the game's twenty-odd hours.

In fact, in the midst of a battle against a giant spider, which happens to be spewing out spider silk from a gigantic spider web, a scientist calls into your earpiece and says "I've decided to name these creatures the Retiarius".

"The audio in its entirety is surplus to requirements - which presumably is some kind of record"

Not only is it progressively funny every time these ants, spiders and bees are referred to as something else, but as the game slowly dulls the brain there's plenty of time to wonder why. Is it a licensing issue? Are bees trademarked? Is it because these are stock 3D objects taken from a middleware library that specifically requested they are not to be referred by name? Was there an out-of-court settlement between two parties fighting for ownership of said 3D assets, wherein one party got the models and the other got the names? EDF 2025 is so pedestrian, so beautifully unengaging, that players will have ample thinking time to explore such issues.

The plot, meanwhile, is paved from dialogue that can only be described as hyper-expositional. Because the events of Earth Defense Force 2025 take place eight years after its predecessor (yes, it was called EDF 2017), for the first five hours virtually every line is affixed and suffixed with "in the eight years since" and "eight years ago" and "after eight years". It's like a radio advert for the past.

Dire presentation and non-strategic gameplay have always been the pillars of the EDF series, though 2025 carries a few more flaws on top. Most obvious is how it extensively recycles models and textures from EDF 2017, to the extent that it can be hard to distinguish between the two games at times.

Zoom
In-game visuals are significantly worse than the screenshots suggest

Its only major addition, meanwhile, is fairly inconsequential. Three new classes are available on top of the conventional US marine grunt, and rarely do they offer any advantage. Only the Wing Ranger, which can fly for limited periods, will be dabbled with more than once.

But, as fans of the series will attest, EDF's core strength is buried deep within the layers of flaws. There is a timeless quality to collapsing entire skyscrapers with a rocket launcher, or shooting at one from more than a mile away and watching it crumble in the distance. There is a primitive, baseline happiness that comes from firing heavy explosives into a pack of giant ants, gazing on as the impact launches a crowd of them into the sky.

EDF 2025 is as basic and honest as a Spectrum title, and in an industry so painfully desperate to become Hollywood, this lurch backwards isn't a sin but a holiday.

The verdict

It may be clichéd to brand EDF the videogame equivalent of a b-movie, but it's an entirely appropriate description. If you love having fun, there's something here for you.

  • Timeless fun
  • Massive ant explosions
  • Vulgar
  • Nonsensical
  • Recycled EDF 2017
6