Friday, 09 August 2019 05:39


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Edited by: Tiffany Lillie

Attack of the Fifty-Foot Whatever

EARTH DEFENSE FORCE 5 (EDF5), developed by Sandlot and published by D3 Publisher, is a third-person shooter wherein you fight hordes and hordes of monsters and aliens. Go from the ranks of civilian to ace as you slaughter your way through waves of opposing forces as you try and take back Earth. You will have loads of weapons at your disposal, ranging from the conventional to the outright fictional. It will be a long campaign, but a fun one, sure to keep you entertained for hours on end.

I’m Doing My Part!

From the start, EDF5 lays on the cheese hard. You start as a regular civilian performing basic tasks around the newly-opened Earth Defense Force base. There's no time to explain what, precisely, the EDF had defended Earth from before, as monsters attack you. Monsters, in this context, are giant alien insects that seem to appear from nowhere. After your boss gets eaten, you're promptly equipped by a passing EDF patrol who promise to get you home safely. This promise goes on for roughly ten missions. Naturally, these giant insectoid monsters have saturated Earth, and it's up to you to push them back.

The cheese only gets thicker from here. During gameplay, you can call out with different predetermined voice lines, mostly used for multiplayer. However, there are two that make your NPC followers call out with you. One of them is a song which you can use at any time. During different parts of later missions, you can hear the NPCs sing different variations of this song. These variations range from singing about fighting aliens to giving up their lives to liberate Earth. This is to say nothing of the deliberately stilted voice acting, hilarious dialogue, and inherent absurdity of fighting fifty-foot creatures from outer space.

A Messy Job

Your task is simple: rescue Earth from an alien invasion. This always boils down to chewing through ever-increasing amounts of enemies. Thankfully, EDF5 mixes up what would be a tedious grind with not just B-movie-quality silliness, but also a host of weapons and different enemy types. Sometimes these are simple retextures of enemies you've already fought, but more often than not they are whole new designs demanding different approaches. For example, the standard ant-like monsters are relatively easy to kill with any weapon. The red variant will require just a little more firepower but are roughly the same. The later teleportation ships almost require a longer range weapon to take down.

Speaking of weapons, there is a whole host of them. Every enemy you kill has a chance to drop a healing kit, a maximum health upgrade, a weapon, or nothing at all. Later enemies have a chance to drop multiple things at once. By the end, you'll have acquired numerous weapons, even considering the possibility of getting duplicates and upgrades. One small caveat is that not every pickup you get is for the class you're currently playing. There are four classes in EDF5, ranging from your standard action-shooter Ranger to the powered-armor-wearing Fencer. Each has a unique play style and suite of weapons that change how you approach combat. 

Stronger Class Gets Stronger

Theoretically, the random drops would make it so that you can swap between classes at will with little issue. However, this is not always the case. For my playthrough, I played predominantly as the Ranger, dabbling in the other classes. While they certainly still had different strengths, none of them matched the power of the Ranger. This is because the class you're playing as has a higher chance of actually getting weapons and health upgrades. While I had a smattering of high-level weapons for the other classes, none were as powerful as the ones I had for the Ranger. I always felt that I would have to replay content to bring them up to the needed level. Meanwhile, all I wanted to do was see what the next level had in store for me.

The asymmetric progression is a bit of a shame as I found the other classes to be a bit more fun than the Ranger. The Wing Diver has a jetpack, but lower base health. She focuses on hopping into and out of combat quickly with shorter-ranged weapons. I frequently found myself tensing up as the enemies brought me to low health just before I was able to escape. On the other end of the spectrum is the Fencer, with heavy armor and high-powered weaponry. They're the only class that can dual wield weapons. There's a certain joy in equipping two miniguns and just mowing down anything unfortunate enough to cross your path. There's a lot of dynamism to be had in character choice and loadout even while playing solo.

Port Man To

EDF5 is a port that was released on the PS4 in the US late last year. The port is competent enough, with a fully-featured options menu and smooth controls on keyboard and mouse. Given the number of enemies featured on screen at once, I wasn't expecting the best graphics in the world, but everything feels vaguely washed out and desaturated. The textures themselves seem a little low res when you're right up against them. None of this detracts from the experience of the game. Certain monsters — most notably the Aranea — still look frighteningly spidery, and enemy guts plaster the surrounding landscape with gory abandon.


The Verdict: Good

EARTH DEFENSE FORCE 5 boasts almost as many hours of gameplay as it does monsters. Combine that with deliberate B-movie-level cheese and a fun core gameplay loop and it's a bargain at any price. Add in multiplayer, and there's no end to the carnage that you and your friends can wreak together. While I'll admit that I didn't get to the end in my playthrough, the twenty hours I did play were enough to hook me into the series as a whole. I had no prior experience with the EDF series before this, and this fifth installment is an excellent jumping-on point for anyone remotely curious about it.

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John Gerritzen

John Gerritzen is a programmer by education, author by hobby, and game critic by occupation. While he usually favors RPGs, he will play anything that engages him narratively or mechanically. When he's not playing games for fun or profit, he's usually reading or watching anime.


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