I love the way that developers have been exploring more sophisticated themes in games in recent years, but not everything can be heavy and poignant all of the time. Yes, sometimes I want to play complex games with intense narratives. On the other hand, sometimes I just want to shoot a bunch of aliens. That’s when Earth Defense Force 2025 becomes the perfect game.
A hostile alien force called the Ravagers is invading Earth, after apparently being defeated in the previous entry, Earth Defense Force 2017. To combat the resurgent threat, you control members of a military squad who try to send the enemy army (consisting of giant ants, giant spiders, giant wasps, and giant robots) back home to space. In a series of quick missions (usually 10 minutes or less), you drop in and blast a swarm of bad guys with rockets, missiles, lasers, and other entertaining weapons. You hear the over-eager chants of your fellow EDF soldiers, then usually watch them die as they stumble over each other trying to fight the overwhelming alien forces.
Earth Defense Force 2025 harnesses an undiluted kind of arcade action that is increasingly rare (my review). The focus is 100 percent, B-movie, sci-fi carnage. It doesn’t care about world-building. It doesn’t care about character development. Here’s all you need to know, from beginning to end: Aliens are invading, and you need to kill them.
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The way you kill the aliens is at the core of what makes this game so fun and addictive. The third-person action is easy to grasp, and the controls are intuitive. You run around and fire your weapons at just about anything that moves. The explosions, acid, insect blood, and lasers constantly flooding the screen make every moment feel like barely controlled chaos. However, your winning strategy is somewhere between twitch precision and indiscriminate destruction.
You start with a meager arsenal of weapons, but the more you play, the more you pick up. You don’t have any sort of traditional progression system; new weapons and extra health drop randomly. That may seem frustrating, but the satisfaction of finally collecting that improved assault rifle or energy beam is immense – more so than just opening a predetermined chest or waiting for the odds to work in your favor on a boss drop.
You even have the choice of four classes (I recommend the Wing Diver, with a jetpack and penchant for energy weapons), and you can team up in co-op either online or locally. While I definitely love cutting down the Ravagers in single-player, the best moments in EDF 2025 are the ones where you and a friend survive a harrowing mission by the skin of your teeth, then try it again on a higher difficulty in hopes of reaping even better rewards.
When it comes to deciding Game Informer’s Top 50 Games for 2014, this gem is perilously easy to overlook. In a world where people want an excuse to play their new-gen consoles, EDF 2025 is a last-gen entry in an already niche franchise. The Earth Defense Force series is not known for its careful balancing or impactful story, so it might get overshadowed by more ambitious titles with bigger budgets. That would be a shame; when it comes to pure popcorn action, EDF 2025 can’t be beat.
The Top 50 Challenge
You need an open mind to fully enjoy Earth Defense Force 2025. That’s why I’m glad Kyle has taken up my challenge; he isn’t fiercely loyal to one particular genre over another, and is able to find things to appreciate in just about every game he plays. Yes, there are flaws in EDF 2025, and I wouldn’t ask anyone to ignore them or pretend they don’t exist – but if you can see past them, you’ve got one of the most shamelessly fun experiences of the year at your fingertips.
Kyle Hilliard was given one day to play EDF 2025. Come back tomorrow at 8:00 PM CT to read his impressions and see if he'll support the game's inclusion on our Top 50 Games of the Year list.