The B movie game series with giant enemy insects finally has a shoot 'em up. So, get ready to squash bugs as only a Wingdiver can!
When I came across Earth Defense Force 4.1: Wing Diver The Shooter in the PlayStation store a week or so ago, I had no idea what it was. Is it an expansion? Is it some sort of separate campaign? It's actually a shoot 'em up that's set in the EDF universe and has you control a Wingdiver within vertically scrolling stages in order to thwart the evil insect aliens' attempt to take over the world. The core gameplay is what you'd expect from a shmup where you avoid projectiles while shooting at hordes of monstrosities. A couple of complications come in the form of a boost button and the ability to swap between 2 equipped weapons. Other than that, the gameplay is mostly what you'd expect from a standard shoot 'em up so thankfully, the classic B movie vibe of the series helps to set it apart from other games in the genre.
Speaking of its vibe, the visuals definitely retain the goofy charm of the franchise. Seeing giant bugs tear down buildings and attack you in clever ways is great fun. When you factor in the cheesy voice acting and overly dramatic music, you're left with a familiar experience but with completely different gameplay. That being said, some elements from classic Earth Defense Force games remain such as the ability to collect armor upgrades and various weapons. One nifty inclusion is the energy gauge which ensures that you don't use powerful weapons too often. As a result, it's a good strategy to equip a weapon that doesn't use any energy in your primary slot and whatever you want in the secondary slot. Anyway, Wing Diver The Shooter combines what fans love about EDF with a shmup in a very cool way.
As you play Earth Defense Force 4.1: Wing Diver The Shooter, you'll increase your maximum health and amass an assortment of weapons that include particle cannons as well as short-range, homing, electroshock, laser, and ranged weapons. Experimenting with these weapons is great fun and picking your favourite can be quite rewarding. Doing so will allow you to master the tough boss fights and the enjoyable mid-stage shooting gallery segments known as Shoot Up Time. There are tons of unlockables to discover such as 5 difficulty settings and 6 Extra Missions. Being able to master everything will definitely take quite some time, skill, and, of course, grinding.
All of that being said, your enthusiasm for completing everything may dwindle shortly after playing for just a little while. This is because the core gameplay is rather sloppy and unrewarding. Soaring through the stages looks cool but enemies are everywhere and any one of them can shoot. Luckily, they become highlighted before doing so but it still feels like a chaotic mess of a game. Even after completing the campaign, I was still a bit hazy about where and how large my hitbox was. Also, the main campaign only consists of 6 short stages that you can easily beat within one sitting. Considering there isn't any multiplayer support or extra modes, you're left with a fairly repetitive and short-lived experience that simply doesn't do enough to offer any sort of lasting appeal.
I'm glad that they made Earth Defense Force 4.1: Wing Diver The Shooter as it's a solid fit for the goofy series. However, it simply doesn't provide enough satisfying gameplay to make it worth playing through more than a couple times.
- + Feels like an EDF game through and through, especially with its B movie vibe
- + Experimenting with weapons is fun
- + Lots of unlockables to discover
- - Shoot 'em up gameplay is mostly sloppy and unsatisfying
- - Only features 6 short core stages
- - Could use multiplayer and extra modes