In my review for Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable I lamented the lack of love for “b-games,” the low-budget no-man’s-land of the video game world. AAA titles with behemoth budgets will receive reams of recognition (or drown in derision when they come out poorly), and tiny indie titles will usually find a cult following to join them under the radar of the masses.
B-games, however, don’t get that love. They don’t have the massive production values of the big boys, nor do they have the artistic merit of their micro-budget indie brethren. Earth Defense Force 2025 falls squarely into this sad void, which is a damn shame, as it’s unabashedly stupid, loud, and most of all fun.
8 years have passed since the Ravagers were repelled by the Earth Defense Force (in Earth Defense Force 2017, of course), and mankind has breathed a collective sigh of relief. We quickly fell back into focusing on the things that matter most, like flatbread pizzas and reality television, which made us all the more vulnerable when the giant insects that signaled the Ravagers’ return quickly burst forth from the ground and started laying waste to the planet again. What follows can only be described as bonkers, as if Bert I. Gordon directed a Toho-produced adaptation of Starship Troopers (which might be the greatest thought I’ve ever had). Joining the giant insects are armies of giant robots and snarling kaiju monsters that compound the absurdity, making the game wear its love for atom-age sci-fi on its sleeve.
If you’ve played Earth Defense Force 2017 you know exactly what EDF 2025 is going to be: reducing swarms of giant insects to puddles of bouncy goo. There’s a level of absurdity to the game that’s stunning, with buildings crumbling around you as hundreds of enemies storm towards you. There are moments that the Xbox chugs painfully trying to process all of the carnage, but they sheer catharsis of the devastation that you wreak is second-to-none. Each massive wave of enemies that you fell is punctuated by a mad dash to pick up all of the items that were dropped, be they new weapons or armor enhancements for the following missions.
This lunacy is compounded by multiplayer, which is delivered both online and locally via splitscreen. There are four classes to choose from, from the versatile Ranger to the airborne Wing Diver (which, coincidentally, is an amazing name for a Paul McCartney/Ronny James Dio cover band). I plunked down on the couch with my buddy for some splitscreen, and the fun we had was ridiculous, although the beers we’d had may have helped. By the way, I was originally planning on suggesting that you could make a drinking game where you take a drink every time they say “giant insects” in the in-game dialogue, but I don’t want to send any of our readers to the ER with alcohol poisoning.
EDF 2025 is a special kind of game, the kind that tickles the same part of your brain as Roger Corman movies and Pabst Blue Ribbon. It’s not great, but it’s so undeniably fun that you keep coming back for more. Long live the b-game!