REVIEW: ‘Earth Defense Force 5’ has All the Charm and Action of a Kaiju Film (PS4)

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Earth Defense Force 5

The Earth is in danger! Strange flying saucers have descended upon the planet, giants monsters that look just like ants and spiders, have suddenly emerged, alien soldiers have demanded order upon humanity, and conventional militaries are powerless to stop them from destroying Earth.

To stop them, an elite military force must be summoned, and become unlike any other in the history of humankind. These soldiers are apart of an elite force with the latest technology and weaponry at their disposal. D3 Publishing, Sandlot games, and ONE PR have brought the world-renowned and revered shooting action game, Earth Defense Force 5 to the United States.

The fifth installment in the long-running franchise, promised to be epic and monumental in scale with new enemies, weapons, and vehicles. After spending time with this, I can safely call this the best Earth Defense Force ever, as well as one of the best action experiences in video games today. For those unfamiliar with Earth Defense Force, the series began as Global Defense Force, an independent action game that pitted a single player against overwhelming numbers of giant alien creatures. The creatures included ants, spiders, centipedes, and other insects.

Global Defense Force was greatly inspired by the B-rated sci-fi films of the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s, especially the Toho Godzilla movies. The experience was accompanied by overly dramatic dialogue and music, further enhancing the B-movie style the game is aiming for.  Despite being niche, the game received solid acclaim and sales. Over the past few years, Earth Defense Force saw a resurgence. In 2015, Earth Defense Force arrived for the PlayStation Vita with Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space, a remake of Global Defense 2.

On the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, players saw Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair.  a remaster of Earth Defense Force 2025, featuring split-screen gameplay, as well as online co-op. Earth Defense Force 5 represents an entirely new game in the franchise, and after some time in Japan, it has arrived in the United States just in time for the holiday season.

Earth Defense Force 5 is a third-person twin-stick shooter. Players can choose one of four classes of soldiers and fight aliens in 112 combat missions. While each mission changes significantly, the objective remains the same: destroy each enemy unit.

For beginners, it is recommended they start with the infantry. This class has access to a variety of weapons from bazookas and machine guns, as well as special vehicles such as mechs and tanks. The other classes have different abilities and weapons but may require some getting used to. The other classes include the Wing Diver, Air Raider, and Fencer units.

The Wing Diver is part of an all-female special operations unit that uses reverse engineering to fight in battle. Wing Divers have energy-based weapons as well as jetpacks. The Air Raider is a support soldier, using special weapons and support forces, such as airstrikes. And finally, the Fencer unit is a heavily armed and armored soldier with an exo-suit.

Each class has its own strengths and weaknesses.  Infantry is good and mobile but are not terribly good at evading enemy fire. Wing Divers can fly, but their jetpacks and energy weapons are tied to a single power supply that needs to regenerate. Air Raiders have support strikes but aren’t recommended for direct confrontation. Plus, Fencers may have extreme armor and firepower but can be slow and challenging to control.

Another important part to Earth Defense Force are weapons and armor. Each defeated enemy drops a red or green crate. Red are more points and each crate equals one point of armor. Collecting these are essential for increasing your health meter in the subsequent missions. Green crates are weapons crates and grabbing these unlocks brand new weapons.

In previous games, players could only grab weapons and armor for their class, but in Earth Defense Force 5, each box obtained affects both the class you have chosen and the other classes in Earth Defense Force. This means that each play-through is immensely rewarding. Even if players die mid-mission, they will retain what they have acquired and each successful mission unlocks new weapons and levels up others to create a nice arsenal of weapons which can be switched out depending on the situation.

Earth Defense Force 5 is pure uninterrupted fun that instantly gives players the satisfaction and reward of being part of an exciting band of sci-fi soldiers. If you have enjoyed cinematic spectacles, such as Starship Troopers, Aliens, or Edge of Tomorrow, you will greatly enjoy what Earth Defense Force 5 has to offer. Each battle feels epic and filled with excitement and danger.

The sensation of using high-explosive rockets, tank shells, and heavy machine gun fire to exterminate the opposition is immensely satisfying.  Each battle feels truly epic in scale and just when players feel they’ve had enough, another wave of giant monstrosities comes at them. It’s great, unique, and rewarding. It is also the style of enjoyment that an Earth Defense Force game can provide. The game is an experience that feels both modern and old-fashioned, harking back tot he days of arcade games but also feeling up to the standards of today’s games.

The only real gripe I may have with Earth Defense Force 5 are the first three missions. These missions act as tutorials and are a speed bump in getting to the action. However, that is a very small grievance against the large package, which is immense.

As with its predecessors, Earth Defense Force 5 has a sharp presentation that evokes the classic vibes of kaiju films.  The game is self-aware and doesn’t take itself terribly seriously, which is refreshing, considering how most shooters are. The dialogue is incredibly cheesy and delightfully hilarious while the music is also equally dramatic.

Visually, the game is fast and sharp, with more depth and detail than previous games. In previous games, shooting the giant enemies, such as an ant, felt rewarding but also as if you were shooting through paper mache. This is because Earth Defense Force 5 has an updated graphics engine. When players open fire, their rounds rip through their enemies, pieces of the enemy are literally torn off, with their limbs and guts splattering across entire city blocks. This provides a solid amount of shooting feedback for the player.

Overall, players of Earth Defense Force 5 will feel like they are plugged directly onto the set of their favorite Godzilla movie, which is a sensation that not many games can evoke. Adding to the already stellar game is split-screen and online co-op. Players can either fight the hordes with friends in couch co-op or online.

It’s tight and rewarding gameplay makes it great for players of all skills. Its combat is ferocious and exciting. Earth Defense Force 5 serves as one of the finest action experiences in video games today, as well as a nice training simulator for the upcoming release of Godzilla: King Of The Monsters. If you are ready to fight unlike anything else, grab your weapons and your armor and dive right in.

Earth Defense Force 5 is now available exclusively on PlayStation 4.


Earth Defense Force 5
  • 10/10
    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL; DR

Overall, players of Earth Defense Force 5 will feel like they are plugged directly onto the set of their favorite Godzilla movie, which is a sensation that not many games can evoke. Adding to the already stellar game is split-screen and online co-op. Players can either fight the hordes with friends in couch co-op or online.