While the Earth Defense Force series has never been known as a technical masterpiece, it's been known by fans as a series which knows what it is and stays true to its roots. Sure it's low-budget and certainly rough around the edges to say the least, but for fans of the series it's part of the charm behind the series as there isn't many games where you can take control of a weapon and blow up giant insects and robots to smithereens. Alongside a PS4 upgrade of EDF 2025, developer Sandlot and North American publisher XSEED Games have brought PlayStation Vita owners an enhanced remake of the second game in the series, which was previously only released on the PS2 in Japan and Europe. So while EDF fans will instantly purchase this game, is it worth the purchase for those who are on the fence or are new to the series?
If you've never played or heard of the EDF series before, the idea is essentially as follows. Take the one-versus-many battle mechanics made famous in Tecmo Koei's Dynasty Warriors franchise and combine that with the cheesiest B-movie tropes you can imagine and mix them both all together. The idea is essentially that an alien menace is dead set on invading Earth with giant ants, spiders and other creepy insects, also throwing in giant robots and flying saucers into the mix for good measure to make things even more B-movie-like. It's one of those plots where it really doesn't make sense if you think about it and is meant more as a backdrop for all of the chaos and explosive mayhem you'll create along the way, and in that sense it works wonderfully and plays straight into its B-movie roots.
As far as the battles themselves go, they play similarly to what you'd expect out of a Dynasty Warriors battle but on a more bite-sized scale. You'll be dropped into a map with a specific target you're aiming to take out, usually against a swarm of enemies but sometimes against a single giant enemy or series of slightly larger non-fodder enemies. You'll have two or three weapons at your disposal before each mission which can select prior, with the idea being that you clear the map successfully while also picking up new health increase armor and some of the 500+ weapons to increase your chances of survival on the next mission.
And while the idea of mission after mission might sound boring initially, the game does allow the player to mix things up by enabling different class choices to be utilized for each mission, choosing from one of three unique classes. The first class, Infantry, is your typical solider-inspired class. He tends to be a damage sponge of sorts and favors more traditional weapons, i.e. assault rifles, rocket launchers.
The second class, the female Pale Wing, is more futuristic in nature and utilizes a jetpack for travelling around the map. Unlike the Infantry class, the Pale Wing's weapons all share the same energy pool reserve that replenishes after firing off a shot, as well as being used to power the jet pack itself. So it creates an interesting dynamic as you'll have to keep your eyes on the meter as you don't want to become a sitting duck by depleting your gauge by flying around too much and not having enough meter left to fire off a shot.
The third and final class, the Air Raider, is new to remake and replaces the original's Fencer class. It's a unique class, as it's meant more for multiplayer specifically as its abilities are support-oriented in nature. He can help teammates in battle as well as lay traps for the enemy to fall into. The game does support up to four players online via co-op multiplayer, so if you don't have any friends nearby, you can hook up with random fellow EDF players online if you so wish. Even with the last class being support-oriented in nature, the other two classes and the six available difficultly levels do give a hefty bit of replay value if you're a completionist.
Surprisingly, the infamous slowdown the series is known for wasn't really that prevalent during my time playing through the game outside of a few key instances where the game placed an extremely large amount of enemies on the screen, which was surprising considering the source material and the platform itself. That said, part of this might be due to the graphics feeling somewhat muddy on the platform, especially on the nighttime levels where there's a really bad glow effect applied on the skyscrapers from the lighting, but the series always tended to have this issue so it's a welcome change to at least have gotten rid of the slowdown at the very least.
Control-wise, it's a mixed bag. When you're controlling a unit everything plays wonderfully, but the moment you switch to one of the vehicles things go south. All of the vehicles lack crosshairs for shooting (only available when outside the vehicle), making figuring out where you're needing to aim a chore. This is combined with the fact that vehicles like the tank control too slowly while the bike controls too fast, so you never feel like you're fully in control of either.
Even with its flaws, I still had an immensely fun time playing through Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space for review. Like its B-movie inspired roots, the game has its flaws but the underlying framework is inherently solid and there's just something amusing about blowing up giant insects to bits alone or with a fellow friend either nearby or now online thanks to the online co-op multiplayer. And with the $29.99 budget price in North America, it helps to offset some of the issues to an extent. If you can overlook the flaws, the EDF is ready to deploy with this entry.
|Outside of a few rare issues, the slowdown the series has been infamously known for is essentially gone.|
|If you're a completionist, there's tons of unlockable content available to obtain.|
|The plot is cheesy, but in a good B-movie inspired way.|
|If you don't have access to multiplayer, the Air Raider class won't really be that useful to you.|
|Graphics a bit muddy, especially on the nighttime levels.|
|Controls for the vehicles vary wildly, no crosshairs available for aiming while inside them.|