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Earth Defense Force 2025 (Xbox 360) artwork

Earth Defense Force 2025 (Xbox 360) review

"More than meets the eye."

There are things you need to know about Earth Defense Force 2025. For a late, seventh generation video game in 2014, its graphics aren't the greatest or prettiest you've seen, and some people probably even proclaim they resemble sixth generation Xbox visuals. When the action gets really, really intense, and tons of different effects and models clutter the screen at once, the framerate will drop. And despite hiding behind large objects, certain enemy attacks and projectiles still manage to clip through and hit you. These circumstances are consistently present throughout EDF2025, and if you weren't aware, these exact "issues" are also in its direct predecessor, EDF2017, which was released approximately seven years prior. There's one more important thing you need to know: none of it matters when you actually play the game.

Earth Defense Force 2025 is a guilty pleasure, where you take control of a soldier in Storm Team as they and the rest of, well, earth's forces fight an alien invasion hell bent on conquering the planet. When you begin, your playground is a city in Japan, and just ahead is a batch of giant ants climbing up and around buildings, chasing screaming civilians, and scooping them up with their huge pincers. You unload your assault rifle, take out a couple screeching bugs, then switch to your secondary weapon, a rocket launcher, and fire at an ant in the distance. You miss, instead damaging the building behind it, then watch as the whole structure crumbles like Jenga pieces. Don't worry, you won't get penalized for that error. The game simply demands that you march on and annihilate these monstrosities.

From there on out, the calamity and intensity of the invasion builds and builds, introducing Star Trek-ish spacecrafts, huge, hopping spiders, and towering, flexible robots that conveniently use the streets as their sidewalks. Just when you think the invaders finally let up, too, the aliens launch a new slew of ludicrous opponents to fend off, the likes of which you expect to see in a silly science fiction film. If you haven't realized yet, all this camp is done intentionally, and shouldn't be confused for a game that's "so bad that it's good". The EDF titles channel our inner child, when most of us used to play with toys of all shapes and sizes, from different companies, where the good guys were small and the bad guys big, and it didn't matter because the good guys always came out on top. That, and the obvious nod to the sci-fi genre.

Unfortunately, some players still dismiss the series, because the Earth Defense Force games carry a stigma of being extremely basic, assuming the path to victory is to just blindly fire away with no thought or strategy. The enemy's behavior can actually often surprise and throw you off guard in the heat of battle, with a stray ant sneaking up on your soldier's rear while you're busy firing into a crowd, and robots temporarily retreating behind buildings when they take a fair amount of damage. A juggling act is even required when you need to destroy a fleet of spaceships, since they're the source of enemies continually spawning on the battlefield. The catch is their weak spots revealing at intervals, which is hard to concentrate on when you're ganged up on by ants and spiders. And for those perceiving EDF as being easy, the three difficulty levels above Normal beg to differ, jacking up the enemy's hit points and damage, as well as the speed at which insects flock to you. There's another incentive for playing on the higher difficulties: you're awarded stronger weapons.

Veterans of the 2007 predecessor likely noticed something while reading up to this point: EDF2025 sounds eerily like EDF2017. This is correct. Everything from the enemies' look and their behaviors, to the "cling" sound effect when picking up upgrade items, and even the large arsenal of weapons for your Ranger make a comeback. Yes, this even includes the appearance of the incredibly powerful Lysander sniper rifles. The quirky things that spill out of your fellow AI soldiers' mouths even make a return, with one guy freaking out about forgetting to bring ammo and another casually responding with "Just because..." when asked why he got married. The stern commander that often pops up on the radio also has his dramatic, oddball moments. He has an unusual knack for coming up with unique names on the spot for new enemies that literally appear seconds beforehand.

In itself, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, since these sights and sounds help make EDF2017 the experience it is. Though, there's one aspect that took a hit with the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" philosophy to game design. It's one thing for certain mechanics and effects to be left unchanged, but making the actual missions themselves have a striking resemblance and flow to EDF2017's catalog is a bit much. I'd say about 80% of the missions you'll endure are basically remixes, ranging from the first appearances of the robots, to the underground stages, to the one stage where you attack an army of red ants on the beach. There are new stage types, and the new enemies bring variety, but they're still mixed in with the rehashed missions.

What's really unneeded, too, is the increased mission count, from EDF2017's 53 to EDF2025's 85. EDF2017 has some odd pacing problems, where one moment, you're in a mission that lasts 30 minutes, while the very next one is half the length. It isn't much of an issue, because it doesn't crop up that much, so the game doesn't feel clumsy. EDF2025, however, with the overwhelming presence of reworked scenarios and the addition of 32 levels, makes it feel like things are stretched out for the sake of wanting a longer game. I honestly don't remember some of the game's latter stages, because I sped through them with a strong weapon on Normal just to reach a legitimate conclusion, mainly due to a couple fake climaxes toward the end.

If this was all EDF2025 had to offer, it would have been a shame, but two very distinct inclusions really help give the title its own unique edge over EDF2017. The first being the availability of three other soldier classes to choose from, the Wing Diver, Air Raider, and Fencer. Each have their own remarkable features and weapons that set them apart from one another, and they definitely add a new layer of strategy to the fight; the Wing Diver has the ability to shoot electric-based weaponry and even fly briefly into the sky with the aid of a charger, the Air Raider shoots detonated bombs and calls in fierce tanks, and the Fencer is a lumbering, armored menace that fires a Gatling gun in one hand and slams a giant hammer in the other... at the same time.

When you first mess around with these classes, they appear to not have that much going for them, ultimately seeming like slight variances of the Ranger class. But give them some time to grow and gain new weapons, and you'll realize just how diverse they can get. This is where the second inclusion comes into play, and how the classes' characteristics really shine through: online four-player co-op. Imagine a scenario where a group is dispatched to destroy several tunnel entrances (insect spawn points) throughout a city map, and they make their way to the nearest one while pushing through a swarm of spiders and hornets. The Wing Diver manages to avoid most attacks while making leaps through the sky, the Ranger puts a dent in the pack with a mighty missile blast, and the Air Raider is tailing to keep any sneaky bugs at bay with a few detonations.

Meanwhile, the Fencer somehow makes it to the tunnel first, and with the Gatling gun and a spear-launching weapon exhausted, he has no time to sit around for reloading, thus immediately switching to his second set. Oh, yeah, the Fencer carries a total of four weapons. The Ranger and Wing Diver are now keeping tabs on any potential danger as the Fencer pounds on the tunnel with a hammer, but he can only do so much as one soldier. Just at that moment, a huge laser beam suddenly shoots down from space, hitting the tunnel in its center, thanks to the Air Raider's Laser Guide Kit pointed at it. Eventually, the tunnel is destroyed, and with the laser still active, the Air Raider uses the remaining juice on the surrounding bugs, basically steering the laser with the pointer. Now... only four more tunnels to go!

The first minute is a small sampling of the combined destructive nature your team can muster.

If you keep an open mind with the equipment you constantly gain from the battlefield, you'll see that a ton of them are really useful to the team, a vital necessity for victory; from your usual assortment of assault rifles and rocket launchers, to resourceful devices like turrets and healing pods, and even unexpected stuff like laser chainsaws and large, three-person mechs, with all this to work with, the one and only thing that should get in your way is a weapon limit set by an online match's lobby manager. All this, the differing classes and the online, as well as what makes the series tick in the first place, helps Earth Defense Force 2025 be the enjoyable and strategic title that it is. It does kill me a little bit that I'm giving it the rating you see, but the remixed stages hurt the title. However, as I type this sentence, I've clocked in a total of 55 hours and 33 minutes, so it's clearly not that devastating.


pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (March 07, 2014)

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Germ posted March 08, 2014:

Somehow I've overlooked this series. This review and you're earlier one for its predecessor have me very interested. Think I'll be checking EDF 2017 prices on eBay today. Thanks for the review(s)!
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pickhut posted March 08, 2014:

Honestly, I'd highly recommend getting this instead of EDF2017, if possible. EDF2017 is a good title, but EDF2025 is basically the same game (those remixed stages) with added playable characters and an online mode. The disappointments I address in the review is more for players who experienced EDF2017, but I guess those issues wouldn't be an issue with people new to the series. The stage number length is still a bit much, though, if you're just playing it by yourself. Play with a friend!

Thanks for reading both reviews, too! As someone who experienced the series for the first time with EDF2017, it was pretty awesome seeing all this stuff firsthand, and I think that enthusiasm showed through when I wrote that review.
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pickhut posted March 08, 2014:

I wanna note too that there was a spin-off game that came out between 2017 and 2025 called Insect Armageddon. It wasn't made by the original dev team and has a different style to it, and the only reason I didn't mention it in the review is because I never had a chance to play the game. I didn't wanna seem like I was talking out of my butt about something I have no knowledge of. xP
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zigfried posted March 08, 2014:

IA was actually pretty cool. I didn't play all the way through, but it had some good ideas (e.g., classes) and better production values than earlier EDF games. But the thing is, EDF is known for absurdly massive carnage... so when a game handles its action sensibly (i.e., keeping framerate steady) then it loses some of what fans love.
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pickhut posted March 09, 2014:

Ooh, dunno how I would handle the toning down. I'd still like to play it one day, just for curiosity's sake.

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