After only a few months, a new EDF game is here and this time, it's serious business. So, let's suit up and get ready to exterminate!
Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is a very different beast to previous games in the series. For starters, it's developed by Yuke's who created the incredibly disappointing movie tie-in Pacific Rim game as well as plenty of WWE and UFC games. Their interpretation of the Earth Defense Force formula has its merits although it also has plenty of problems. Right off the bat, if you're a hardcore fan of the franchise then you'll likely be put off by many changes such as the fact that weapons are no longer random drops. Instead, you unlock them in a store after missions then you have to buy them with various currencies. Also, increasing your maximum health simply requires in-game money instead of collecting crates from defeated enemies. When it comes to gameplay, there are far fewer giant insects to fight at once but they're definitely more vicious than ever. Anyway, I'll go into more depth about what all of this adds up to in a bit.
Visually, Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is the best-looking in the series so far which doesn't say much because most EDF games look like they belong on the previous generation's hardware to what they were released on. With that being said, I absolutely love the pitch-perfect cheesy graphics and sound of Earth Defense Force games so the more realistic approach just doesn't sit right with me. Also, the audio is a bit too serious for my liking. The almost constantly dramatic orchestral score kind of got on my nerves and the voices of overly explanatory scientists, distraught teammates, and generic computer voices definitely don't help much. Don't get me wrong; its graphics and sound aren't terrible and I'm sure many gamers will appreciate the change in tone. I just like extra cheese on my EDF games.
Back to the gameplay; the basic concept of running around stages and blasting away giant insects and robots and such remains. However, it's much more focused this time around with fewer yet tougher enemies. One foe can easily stun and corner you then a swarm may quickly surround you and end your life within seconds. Therefore, you must be vigilant and evasive. Honestly, I found that using the flying armour was a necessity because otherwise, I kept getting knocked around all over the place. Even with the ability to fly around, the gameplay was still challenging and in some stages, even frustratingly so. Anyway, the small enemies are huge and the large enemies are inconceivably enormous which is awesome. There are vehicles, too, but driving them is frequently annoying due to their awful controls, especially on uneven terrain. Having one flip over on you will make you wish that you just walked instead.
On the plus side, Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain features a wealth of content and modes to enjoy. First, the mission-based campaign can be played either solo, in cooperative online matches, or with a local friend via split-screen multiplayer. Aside from this, there's a somewhat extensive competitive online mode known as Mercenary where you battle as part of a team and see which team can gather the most Energy Gems. When it comes to unlockables, there's a comprehensive database to fill out complete with enemy information and loads of stats. As you play, you'll amass a collection of 3 types of Energy Gems as well as Credits that you can redeem for various weapons, items, and clothing. Speaking of which, you can customize your character but it's difficult not to just look like a generic soldier.
Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is definitely a very different experience to past games in the series. Fans will likely not appreciate many of the changes although the more focused combat makes for a rather satisfying challenge.
- + Classic yet more focused EDF gameplay
- + Enemies can be very large and daunting
- + Lots of content to unlock and modes to enjoy with fun online multiplayer
- - Gameplay can be quite frustrating
- - Missing a lot of classic EDF charm
- - Vehicles are often more annoying than helpful with their irritating controls