I’ve been familiar with the Earth Defense Force series for a long time but, until now, had only played Earth Defense Force 2017 on Vita. With the series’ debut on PS4 in the West, I got to slaying massive insects on the big screen.
The story is incredibly simple – defend Earth from massive insects which are aiming to destroy humanity. The story does little to stretch out as you fight countless hordes of giant ants, spiders (the jumping ones did not instill a sense of comfort in me) and other insects whilst the EDF (yes, the Earth Defense Force) fight them back and work towards keeping the invaders away for good. There’s nothing in the way of character development and the story only progresses through a description for each mission, but the gameplay kept me coming back for me and if you have friends then you’re in for a really good time.
The Shadow of New Despair is, and this isn’t an insult to the game at all, a budget title that does little in using the PS4’s power but developer Sandlot knew exactly what they were doing here and that was to create an addicting game with fun gameplay and an emphasis on co-op. With four different classes to choose from – Ranger, Wing Diver, Air Raider and Fencer – all of which have different attributes and skills for the dozens of missions, you’ll want to experiment or, perhaps better yet, grab three friends for online co-op so that you can maximise potential between the classes and destroy the insects efficiently! You can also play two-player split-screen. I personally play as a Wing Diver because they’re the only class that can fly, and flying in this game is easy and super fun.
You’ll mostly be holding down R2 to fire one of your two guns pretty much all of the time due to the near endless hordes of enemies and you’ll want guns that fit the situation – you know, past blowing those insects away! There are explosive firearms like rocket launchers, long-range weapons and lasers and as you’re able to carry two weapons into battle, you’re sometimes advised on what to bring. Long-range weapons can make a mission end far sooner than a short-range weapon in some circumstances, especially if you’re not a Wing Diver so make sure to pay attention to what you’re bringing into battle because missions are quite lengthy and considering there are almost 100 in the game, you’ll most likely not want to spend extra time on one level. You’re able to call in tanks and airstrikes although as a Wing Diver, this wasn’t something I was doing often. You’ll want friends to play with to make the most out of Earth Defense Force 4.1, the way it was intended to be played.
This certainly isn’t a game that pushes the graphical power of the PS4 to its fullest extent – if to any extent – with copy and paste areas and characters, bland colours and I imagine this could’ve been quite easily made for PS3 where many games on that system far surpassed this one visually. You’ll mostly be fighting in cities or caves and when you’re not fighting insects, you’ll be fighting robots from outer space. Yeah, the game is crazy and can be a lot of fun, but it won’t be the visuals that pull you in again and again. You can customise your class a little bit outside of choosing weaponry by changing the colours of their outfits.
Audio won’t blow you away either with reused sound clips and you’ll hear the same lines spoken over and over again with very little background music to mix things up. The sound effects sound okay otherwise but they become repetitive very quickly. There’s not much to say about the audio aspect of Earth Defense Force 4.1 as there’s just not a whole lot of audio present – you’ll hear soldiers singing “EDF! EDF! EDF!” a lot though, so I hope you enjoy their dulcet tones.
Earth Defense Force has a lot of content but most of it is the same, and it’s best experienced with friends. It really is a fun game but it being priced the same as many other full-priced titles doesn’t sit well with me considering it’s nowhere near the same quality. It’s hard to recommend at its current price point, especially if you have nobody else to play with, although it’s far from a bad game. Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair is good arcade-like enjoyment that’ll last you a long time if the repetition doesn’t bog you down first but if all you want to do with your friends is slay countless enemies, then you’re going to find that this game does that very well.