Earth Defense Force is a remake of the cult classic EDF 2025. It is set 8 years after the huge alien attack from the previous game and unfortunately for humanity they return, bigger & badder than ever. We can choose from one of four classes to fend of the alien menace, each trying to one up each other with the amount of destructive weaponry they have to offer. You have the Ranger, your jack of all trades soldier whose main advantage is healing allies when he picks up health drops. The Air Raider who is a support character that should not be underestimated as he can call forth huge mechs & vehicles as well as city destroying airstrikes.
Your other two options are the Fencer, basically a walking tank with weaponry that can level a neighborhood in seconds and finally you have the Wing Diver who can take to the skies in her jetpack. Wing Divers are the class that most shake up the gameplay as her weapons and jetpack are both tied to her energy meter that can overheat if not careful. Each class have more unique quirks than I have mentioned and makes the replayablity of this already lengthy title nearly irresistible. It makes playing online co-op or split-screen that much more interesting though any class is perfectly playable if you prefer to play alone.
The game is set entirely in Japan and battles take place on seashores, underground cave systems and by far the most fun, cities. Every building you see can be destroyed with explosive weaponry whether intentional or not. It’s a common occasion where an enemy moves out of the way and you total a few houses in the process, that by the end of the battle you have single handily caused more collateral damage than the entire alien fleet. There are no punishments for doing so or even for killing your allies, everything goes in EDF. The previously mentioned destruction can be used against you as well such as climbing a skyscraper with your sniper rifle only to have it blown right under you by an enemy or a particularly cheeky friend.
There is no fall damage so you can easily fly up as high as you can in a helicopter and drop down directly into the action without so much as your character flinching. As you can no doubt tell by now this series throws realism into the wayside and in turn becomes a gloriously chaotic time whenever you decide to boot it up. All the enemies in this game will be many times your own size and are either insects or robots. What has always been the main draw of the series is the insane amount of enemies on screen at any one time and the insane weapons you can get your hand on to handle said situation. EDF 4.1 increases the number of weapons that now ranges over 700 and best of all is now in 60fps.
Since the PS2 era the series was too ambitious with their game causing it to be set at 30fps and a ton of framerate drops which honestly did detract a bit from the experience. Finally, after all this time we have systems that can handle the game and maintain a solid 60 fps. It may sound like a minor thing but the amount of explosions, enemies and destruction on display at any given time without a single hitch is a beautiful sight. It’s also the first real EDF game to come to PC, which on topic does not have any option settings so it is highly advised you have a PC on par with the current gen consoles. The graphics have also been improved from the 2025 version but it’s still nothing to gawk at.
There are many vehicles that you can commandeer assuming you are either the Air Raider or Ranger class. Tons of tanks, helicopters, hover bikes and giant mechs to name a few. They all control reasonably well minus the helicopter which feels nearly unusable. A small addition is a laser to show you exactly where your vehicle’s weapon will strike. One of the coolest new vehicles to 4.1 is a Depth Crawler, a strange armored contraption that lets you climb any surface similar to Tachikoma from the anime “Ghost in the Shell”. None of the vehicles spawn in the levels so if you have never played as the Air Raider or don’t have one on your team you’ll miss out on quite a big feature.
You’ll have to fight your way through 81 increasingly difficult levels to reach the end. There is a story but it is told entirely through the radio chatter and is nothing special. It’s a good idea to pay attention to it however as you don’t want to confront the enemy without the knowledge that they are going to bomb the area into oblivion in a few seconds. The in-game effects such as having very little soldiers by your side after so many missions of fighting a massively superior enemy is a nice touch. If a fellow EDF solider loses their commanding officer you can recruit them to follow your command or at times even the officer will be at your command as well depending on the mission.
They can hold their own in a fight and are a massive help, enough so that you actually care if they survive or not. Unfortunately, their AI is sometimes subpar, they work well enough in the large open spaced maps but when crammed into a tunnel they start to deteriorate into odd fits such as trying to shoot enemies through walls. Nothing like firing a rocket only for your ally to stick his fat head in front of you in the last second, killing the both of you. Even in those situations you want them around since tunnels are now pitch black and your flashlight exposes very little of your surroundings. It is quite an intense feeling to march deeper into the tunnel and as more of your teammates get picked off, the less darkness your dwindling squad is able to expose.
These moments are a nice contrast to the madness of the city levels but the combination of AI issues, darkness and occasional confusing level design make them more of an annoyance than anything. You have no command over what those under your command do, they’ll just follow you around until death. Comically enough you can command them to dance and sing on a whim, even if there are incoming spiders ready to eat their faces off. And bite our faces off they will as aliens have come back with dragons, giant bees and Godzilla himself to end us. A Godzilla clone is nothing new to the series but this time around they cannot be harmed by weapons, you must step into a mech larger than most skyscrapers and attempt to punch it’s lights out. If that doesn’t sell you on the game noting will.
All levels have five difficulty options you can choose from which increase enemy speed, damage from friendly fire and rewards. The promise of possibly unlocking new powerful weapons is alluring, so not only will you want to play as each class but also repeat levels on different difficulty modes. Weapons are unlocked via green crates that an enemy can randomly drop once defeated that may contain new stuff to play with. The other two drops are a first aid item that refills a portion of your health and armor which will increase your overall health if you manage to complete the level. If you die in the level, you will receive no rewards of any kind meaning you can’t simply start on the highest difficulty to obtain powerful weaponry from the get go.
The amount of weapons and gadgets you can unlock is staggering and it will take you many, many hours to see all there is. Which makes it that more annoying that there is no way to test a gun out or know what it does minus the descriptions that don’t really do a good job at explaining them. The only real way to get a grip on what the gun/item does is to take it on a mission and hopefully not dying due to some classes only being able to take two weapons, hoping the new one you took is decent. With so many weapons it does become a tad frustrating. While we are talking about flaws I should mention the biggest one present, enemies sometimes getting stuck. The problem here is that most missions require you to kill every last alien and having a single ant stuck behind an object half way across the city that you now have to walk to is an absolute pain. It only happened a small amount of times though it’s something to be aware of.
Music is nothing to write home about but compliments whatever is going on nicely. If you love cheesy B movie like voice acting, you will absolutely love the nonsense that the EDF soldiers spout. They talk a ton yet I never found them to be annoying and when they suddenly start singing it never fails to put a smile on my face. Heck, from the moment I enter a level I can’t stop smiling as they finally nailed it with this title. Most of the issues that have haunted the series are now gone and has brought the franchise from a “If you can put up with this and that issue, then get it.” niche audience to a single, simple statement. If you like fun, there is no other game I would recommend over Earth Defense Force 4.1.