Give it a buzz.
Earth Defense Force 2025 tests the limits of not taking a game seriously. I mean, it's still about eradicating giant ants, spiders, and aliens invading the world for the sake of our enjoyment. Similar to the thousand-man-killing Dynasty Warriors series, the thousand-bug-killing Defense Force series is among the top sellers and downloads in Japan, though it's relatively unknown in the States apart from the previous main installment Earth Defense Force 2017 and the offshoot Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon. While EDF 2025 won't impress you with its presentation, it does enough to make bug extermination challenging, multiplayer-ready, and highly replayable.
Arriving a little less than a decade after the events in EDF 2017, the bugs and alien motherships have returned in stronger numbers and with significant upgrades. Your task is to choose one of the four classes and complete each mission by wiping out every wave of enemies that comes your way. Picking a higher difficulty setting, which can be handled in the first few missions before the annoying spiders appear, earns you better weapon drops so that you can have the best loadout possible. Any little bit helps because as you progress through the 85 total missions in the single-player campaign (with nine more in the online campaign), the overall strength of the swarm becomes overwhelming. Twenty fire-breathing dragons? Oh, hell no.
A piece of the old and the new, the Earth Defense Force troops are separated into four different classes that complement each other well in a team. Rangers comprise the rank and file of the military, capable of wielding standard-issue assault rifles and rocket launchers. The all-female Wing Divers have much better mobility, capable of launching into the air with their limited energy packs, at the expense of having lower armor ratings. On the flipside are the Fencers, the tanks and the hardest class to control of the group, who tend to be slow and sluggish but can wield four high-powered weapons and shields including blast spears and chargeable Vibro-Drive hammers. Last but not least, the Air Raiders support the main team with life or armor support but don't have that much firepower until they signal a tank, helicopter, or mech to fall from the sky.
Having a balanced party or one that's appropriate for a mission is key, as a pack of rangers and a lone air raider (that would be me) doesn't work well against a horde of giant alien mechs with homing electric mortar blasts. Then add friendly fire, which can't be turned off, and any players who spam rockets will quickly become the center of your hatred. If my teammates had switched to Wing Divers or Air Raiders, the mission would have been much easier, instead of being forced to sacrifice half your armor just to revive some dick who doesn't learn (or shoots you on purpose for shits and giggles).
The main incentive for trudging through all of the missions is the acquisition of new weapons, which drop randomly from enemies in the shape of neon-green boxes. The red boxes of armor are important too as they incrementally increase your character's overall HP, but there aren't any other character stats that improve so better weaponry is where it's at. My favorites are the Air Raider's Bazelart helicopters, Vegalta power suits, and ZE-GUN turrets; the Fencer's flamethrowers, mechanical spears, and Vulcan Hammers; the Wing Diver's homing weapons and Psi Cluster special weapon (which is like a sustained Sailor Venus Crescent Beam Shower... because I'm a dork!).
Online co-op, despite the restrictions on weapon level, is the best place to experience a four-player team. When everyone works together with the proper strategy and the right equipment, mission success isn't difficult to achieve and any weapon drops are shared amongst the group. At the very least, local co-op actually exists for online play.
The unfortunate downside is that the framerate takes a nosedive during local co-op and when there are too many enemies and explosions on the screen. It's impressive that every building and elevated highway crumbles to the ground, but when the entire environment gets razed, the particle effects turn the combat into sludge. Simultaneously, the civilians bicker ad nauseum, whining about anything and everything to the point that you want the bugs to gnaw them into paste and you smile whenever the little meat sacks serve their role as decoys.
Although Earth Defense Force 2025 is caught in a tangled web of technical flaws, its corny simplicity and sensible multiplayer makes for a title with surprisingly high replay value. In fact, numerous EDF fans would consider the framerate drops and shaky presentation to be part of its charm. Perhaps EDF 2025 will have you bitten by the same bug.