It’s been quite some time since I’ve played a “so bad it’s good” title, so I’m a bit overdue. I have heard about the Earth Defense Force games, but never had a chance to check them out until now with Earth Defense Force 5. If you’re looking for a no-frills, shoot and blow up everything in sight game experience that’s peppered with bad voice acting and dialogue, then you’ll want to gear up for this crazy title.
As soon as you start playing, you’ll realize that this is a fun and cheesy poke at classic 50’s sci-fi movies from both the United States and Japan. You start off as a regular officer that’s given a tour of some large military base and all of the cool weapons, giant mecha suits and tanks, and more that’s inside. Next thing you know, giant ants break through the walls and wreak havoc, which leaves you to pick up some weapons and become the hero the world needs.
The first few stages that take place in the military base serve as a tutorial as you learn to shoot, dodge, switch weapons, and such while you’re there. You can also switch between different classes to access a variety of weapons and skills, with you starting out as the all-around average Ranger class. Then there’s the Wing Diver class that features a woman with a jetpack that makes her highly mobile and can use speed buffs, the Air Raider is a support class that can call in vehicles and health packs to help teammates out, and lastly there’s the Fencer that’s the tank-like soldier using a power suit exoskeleton and can use heavy weapons and a shield.
You’ll want to take the time to use all of these classes as the action heats up quite a bit over the 100+ stages. You read that right, there’s over 100 stages with all types of monsters you’ll have to blast your way through, and that’s not counting the extra hard ones you can access via DLC. I’m glad the controls are tight and responsive here, as they help with the monster mowing. The framerate is pretty smooth for the most part, but it does tend to dip a smidge when tons of enemies appear on the screen, and there’s some screen tearing here and there. This is the staple of what makes the series so appealing it seems, as the enemies you come across are numerous and try to dominate you and your screen, much like the famed Diablo series when playing on any of the Torment difficulties.
Speaking of which, things can get really hairy very quickly depending on which class you’re using and the difficulty setting you select. Luckily as you kill stuff, they tend to drop some pretty good loot for all of the classes, from rocket launchers and flamethrowers, to high-powered machine guns that allow you to cut through baddies. Sadly there’s other things that make playing harder than it should be, namely some of the vehicles you can use that fight against you every step of the way (*gives a stern look at the motorcycle that likes to fall over and kick you off every chance it gets*).
The graphics aren’t much to look at, but they serve their purpose nicely as enemies and explosions rain all over your screen. By far the most fun thing about this game outside shooting everything in sight is the unapologetically bad voice acting that’s sure to have you both groaning and laughing. It gives the 1996 classic Resident Evil a run for its money, from lines where someone will repeat the same thing multiple times (“Here’s the blast door. Stand back, I’m going to open the blast door.”), to the never ending dialogue between the soldiers that follow you as they discuss their weapons, how awesome you’re doing, and giving their thoughts on the situation with hammy results, this is a game you’ll want to poke fun at with friends MST3K style.
That leads me to some other cool features of the game, which is the two-player split-screen local co-op or multiplayer online play with three of your friends. Now you can shoot up baddies while also laughing at the dialogue at home with a buddy or online where the action is sure to push your team to the limit.
If you’re looking for a no-frills shooter to play with friends and have a good time blowing everything away while shaking your head at bad dialogue and voice acting, then Earth Defense Force 5 is the perfect game for you. It has a couple of faults that get in the way at times, but the awesome action and perfect co-op play overcomes them to make this one of the year’s best sleeper hit titles.