Part of Earth Defense Force's charm is its low-budget feel. So, what's this? A PS4 version of Earth Defense Force? With a giant mecha smacking the crap out of a kaiju?
Typically, the Earth Defense Force games are third-person shooters that pit humans against, among other things, giant insects. Yeah, things get schlocky. The framerate is never as smooth as you'd expect, some of the in-game textures are dodgy as hell, but the games are always, hands down, a good time. They are video games' version of a b-movie. But, a really, really great b-movie.
Considering how an Xbox 360 version was released at the start of the last generation, a PS4 version, titled Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair, shouldn't be that big of a surprise. That being said, it was surprised to see the game running on a PS4—and running pretty smoothly when checking out the Tokyo Game Show demo.
As soon as the demo kicked off, I made a beeline towards the nearest building. In past games, because there are so many destructible buildings in EDF, the textures from up close usually look dodgy as hell. But, up close, these buildings looked like real buildings, not like boxes with windows on them. I actually started to get worried. This game might look too good for an Earth Defense Force title. So, I promptly blew up said building with my bazooka.
I was delighted to see it crumble to the ground in those giant slabs of flat, floaty concrete, like they do the in EDF games. Then, a slew of giant ants started crawling out of nowhere, and I immedinately ran after them, shooting at them with my rifle and switching back and forth with my bazooka. After they died, the giant bugs magically disappeared. Oh goodie, this is the EDF I know and love.
The controls will be familiar to long-time Earth Defense Force players, and so will the giant ants. In the past, EDF has been a good time, and this latest entry does not look to be an exception. The framerate is smooth—even if I've also kinda liked how EDF games can slowdown and chug when there are too many giant bugs and buildings blowing up. I've always found that rather dramatic.
Things do get somewhat slower when you board the giant mecha that is new to Earth Defense Force 4.1. In the demo, an enormous kaiju descends, and the way to (literally) beat the crap out of it is to get in a huge mecha, which is airlifted in. The giant mecha gameplay is wonderful. Yes, the framerate starts to have issues, but the big mecha moves like a big mecha. It punches the kaiju in the face like you want a big mecha to punch a kaiju in the face. And when you're not smacking the tar out of the kaiju, you can trample over buildings.
Earlier in the day, I checked out the PS3 Godzilla game, which has the official Godzilla models and sounds and seal of approval, but it was nowhere was enjoyable as this.
I love the Earth Defense Force games. I love them because they are never fully polished. I love them because they never look that great. I love them because they are unabashedly fun. And hey, giant mecha punching kaiju.
Earth Defense Force 4.1 is slated for a 2015 release in Japan. No word yet on a Western release.