I have the utmost respect for a game that is willing to give its players a rocket launcher on the first level. Bonus points if that rocket launcher has an unlimited amount of ammo, four shots per clip, and reloads in under two seconds.
First impressions are powerful things, and Earth Defense Force 2025 shows up wearing a very fancy suit coupled with cufflinks made from the chitin of dead, giant insects. EDF2025 is the most perfect gentleman.
EDF2025 starts off at a healthy jog (filled with dodging, guns, and ants the size of motor homes) and never stops running throughout its 20-plus hour, 85-level campaign. The game refuses to slow down and it refuses to not be fun, and it does these things with a wild abandon that makes me want to keep playing.
You, you noble player, are a member of the Earth Defense Force, a prestigious military organization built to save the world from alien dangers. EDF: Insect Armageddon saw the Ravagers defeated, but defeat doesn’t sit well with alien scum. The Ravagers are back, and this time they’ve brought new insects, bigger warships, and transforming mechs.
Yeah, it’s that kind of game, and it’s a constant stream of fun from start to finish.
EDF2025 is a third-person shooter that takes many design elements from arcade-style games: Your goal is to kill everything on the screen, and you have an unlimited amount of ammo to do that. Health doesn’t regenerate, and there are no chest-high walls to hide behind. It’s just you and more foes than one can rightfully count; thankfully, you have an unlimited amount of ammo.
Almost everything is destructible, from cars to bridges to buildings to bigger buildings to skyscrapers to…well, you get the idea. The first grenade I unlocked, I randomly threw at what looked like a pretty large tower to see what kind of explosion it would make. To my utter delight, the pretty large tower crumbled to the ground in a pile of screen-shaking rubble.
I smiled a grin that hurt my face and then began throwing grenades at giant insects with a wild abandon.
All of the enemies, and quite a few other environmental areas as well, have physics. This makes your shots feel powerful as corpses bounce off each other and fly every which way. There’s something magical about firing a barrage of rockets into a horde of big ants and seeing their body parts blow up in a firework-like display.
And the game manages to continuously top itself. Around level 40 I felt like I was finally getting used to EDF2025’s progression, and then the game introduced Ravager ships called “Earth Eaters.”
That was only the halfway mark, by the way. As it turns out, I hadn’t seen anything yet.
On the narrative front, EDF2025 is…surprisingly enjoyable. It’s a silly affair, the kind of SyFy channel schlock involving giant insects, evolution, and an alien race called Ravagers, yet I was always invested in what was going on and eager to see the end. The Earth Eaters made that even more apparent because the idea of any kind of alien race with the technological power to literally eat the Earth is…well, fun!
Plus, despite our best efforts, the Earth Defense Force was always losing ground. For every insect nest we destroyed, more and more popped up. For every giant transport ship we shot down, more and more showed up. The human race was depending on us, and we weren’t capable of living up to those standards. Yet failure meant the destruction of everything.
EDF2025 is cheesy and stupid, yet it’s somehow compelling.
The characters are all quite enjoyable too. The main scientist who gives most of the exposition is always wonderfully surprised by everything the Ravagers throw at him, and even though he’s our lead scientist advisor, he doesn’t seem to understand the basics of anything involving science. I think my favorite line from him is, “Advancement faster than technology is impossible!” Almost everything he said made me laugh.
There’s also the military leader who believes it’s his utmost duty to name everything you encounter. The poor guy seems like a liberal arts major forced into some serious military lifestyle, and now he’s finally getting the chance to show his creative side.
Your fellow Earth Defense Force soldiers are also filled with personality. Their conversations are all somewhat dynamic, mixing and matching random sentences to fun outcomes. “Whatever you do, don’t die!” “Yes sir!” still makes me laugh when I think about it.
The playable characters are all silent protagonists, but that isn’t really an issue. You’re there to kill giant insects and not ask questions, and there’s plenty of that to go around.
There are four classes to play as, and each one is very different. I rolled the standard soldier on my first playthrough, and wow does he have a lot of weapons to find and unlock. Rocket launchers, missile launchers, shotguns, machine guns, grenades, sniper rifles, and specialty weapons are all there to choose from, and there’s a lot of individual variety to be had. Mixing and matching weapons is encouraged, and I found one level was only beatable if I used two different kinds of sniper rifle.
The other three classes are just as varied. The wingdiver can fly, but her flying abilities and ammo share the same kind of counter, making for an interesting balance. She’s the glass-cannon kind of character, and her weapons are all quite impressive. My favorite weapon of hers is the laser chainsaw, which is exactly what it sounds like.
The fencer is the heavy class, and he can take four different weapons into battle. He’s slow but strong and can wield giant hammers if you want him to.
Finally, the air raider is the vehicle class. He can summon airstrikes—which are awesome—and call down vehicles to use. He starts off with a tank but can unlock all kinds of things, from helicopters to mech suits.
Hereis a game with a high level of replayability, and you’ll want to keep going just to see what the next weapon unlock will be.
EDF2025 isn’t a perfect game though. Graphically, it’s nothing special, though the amount of enemies, explosions, and the crazy physics excuse the low-quality textures. Likewise, the giant insects you’ll be fighting don’t have much in the ways of pathfinding, and sometimes they get lost or stuck. Flying enemies crash into buildings now and then.
The game also suffers from lag on occasion. The stuttering never killed me, but it did become annoying on a few levels which demanded a bit more precision than the norm.
There are balancing issues as well, with some weapons being way more useful than others. Once I got the Cascade rocket launcher, I never had the need to try any other rocket launcher, all of which were just inferior. Some weapons seem downright useless and only exist to clog up your inventory.
Finally, there are pacing issues. While the game is always fun, some levels are really long while others are really short. Going from a half-hour level to a five minute level feels awkward, and I’d have preferred more consistency in level length. The difficulty curve also spikes pretty highly on occasion, and I recall spending a few hours trying to beat one level in the middle of the game and then even longer on the last level, which was quite frustrating.
Those complaints feel minor when compared to the entirety of EDF2025 though, which is a successful attempt at joy. The game is silly and stupid, but it knows exactly what it is: it laughs with you while urging you on to kill more and more in a forever escalating campaign filled with nonstop explosions.
The Verdict: 9.5 out of 10
EDF2025 is a science-fiction affair that doesn’t take the genre seriously and excels because of that. Nonstop explosions, escalating enemies and weapons, and a gameplay loop that never grows old make for something absolutely worth playing. With four different classes and a ridiculously-high arsenal of destruction at your disposal, you’ll be hard pressed to grow bored. Simply put: EDF2025 is a great game.
Editor’s Note: I played the game on hard difficulty, used the ranger class as my primary character, and played through the game’s entirety with my brother. Playing EDF2025 from start to finish solo might offer a different experience than playing it from start to finish with a friend.