The Earth Defense Force series appeals to the inner child within us all.
The video game equivalent of B-movies, each and every Earth Defense Force game finds our beloved planet Earth being invaded by giant insects and aliens. But there’s no holding back and trying to open a dialogue with them, no reasoning; your first, and last, response to such a threat is to raise your gun and blast them to smithereens. And there are loads of them. Always loads of them.
Just like Earth Defense Force 4.1 before it, and the many Earth Defense Force games that came before that, Earth Defense Force 5 is all about constant, chaotic action. You won’t really care about its story, largely because it’s utter twaddle. Also, a game doesn’t need a story when it’s as straight to the point as Earth Defense Force 5 is. It’s simple: aliens are invading, and they’re also teleporting in giant insect creatures to do their bidding. Kill them before they kill you. That’s all the motivation you need.
At the outset, you’ll probably be appalled by Earth Defense Force 5‘s last-gen visuals, even though they shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. You’ll also be shocked by its awful dialogue, though its hamminess does eventually grow on you. Alongside its single brain cell gameplay, which never strays from the objective of “kill everything that moves”, Earth Defense Force 5 just shouldn’t be a good game. And perhaps it isn’t on a technical level. But boy, is it a hell of a lot of fun.
Earth Defense Force 5 single-handedly demonstrates that games don’t need to be audio-visual tour de forces to be fun. They don’t need game mechanics that raise the bar, or epic stories that grip you to your seat. They just need a hook, and moment-to-moment gameplay that’s exciting and doesn’t waste your time. Earth Defense Force 5‘s levels are bite-sized, and the action found in each and every one of them struggles to differentiate itself from the last, yet it never feels like a chore to play. In fact, against all odds, it always feels like an absolute blast.
Perhaps the reason why Earth Defense Force 5 remains compelling is because of its drip-feed of new content. Collecting weapon and armour containers during missions means you’re always expanding and improving your arsenal as well as making yourself more hardy. New enemies are introduced on a regular basis, presenting you with fresh challenges to overcome. And multiple character classes, that are indeed wildly different from each other, present alternative ways to play. There’s a range of difficulty levels, too. All in all, Earth Defense Force 5 has the depth of an action RPG, and a good one at that.
Admittedly, there’s not much that’s genuinely new in Earth Defense Force 5; if you’ve played Earth Defense Force 4.1 recently you’ll definitely have the feeling of deja vu. There are new enemies though, and more missions and armaments than ever before. Vehicles also make a return, as well as online co-op, allowing you to fight alongside your friends which makes the action even more fun. Earth Defence Force 5 is simply happy being bigger and better than its predecessors rather than trying to reinvent what makes it a success.
Honestly, aside from the abysmal graphics and old-fashioned presentation – which are both easily overlooked when presented with the sheer bliss of mulching hundreds of giant spiders with a Gatling gun – the only real issue I have with Earth Defense Force 5 is its occasionally troublesome camera. Sometimes it will follow an object, such as a huge rod, as it plummets down to Earth. The trouble is, it will do so while you’re engaged in action, and once the camera has stopped following said object you’ll often find yourself looking square at the ground or the air, leaving you disoriented for a few moments. It’s not the biggest issue by any means, but it does irritate.
If you’ve got a copy of Earth Defence Force 4.1 still lying in your pile of shame, you’d probably be wise to give this new entry in the series a miss for a while and play that instead. If, however, you’re yet to enter the world of Earth Defense Force, Earth Defense Force 5 is a brilliant way to dip your toes into the water. Don’t worry that because it has got a 5 at the end of its name that you’ll be missing some important backstory or anything – there isn’t one. There’s just just hours upon hours of insane and utterly ridiculous third-person shooting to be had, with action RPG sensibilities that will keep you going back for more time and time again.
Earth Defense Force 5 stands in the face of pretty much every game released these days. It’s the game that doesn’t bother trying to keep up with the Jones’ because it’s happy doing its own thing and being just what it wants to be. And that’s brilliant. And you know what else is brilliant? Shooting hundreds of enemies while listening to humorous quips. That never gets old. Never.