Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Earth Defense Force 4.1 - The Shadow of New Despair (Playstation 4, 2015)

BUG HUNT continues as I play an EDF game for the first time. These are known for being super fun shoot 'em ups. This one is a PS4 remaster of an XBox 360 game, so it looks a little antiquated at this point, but hopefully the gameplay is as good as I've heard.

At the outset you choose from one of four characters, and the game steers you towards this guy. He's even on the cover of the game.

However, I need to go with Wing Diver here, who looks like something out of Xenogears. This hero can fly via jetpack, which is SUPER useful. Not sure the first guy has that. The cost is a fair amount of durability, but I gotta say flight makes this game 10x more fun.

"AIYEE" screech townspeople as they run around in horror from a giant ant invasion.

That's right...giant ants. They're EVERYWHERE. They might actually be termites. I don't know. I'm not a pest-control expert. ...Yet?

There's a massive variety of weapons in this game, from lasers to electric blasters to machine guns and everything in-between.

The ANT ARMY ravages everything in its path. I like ants, but I'll admit that blasting nonstop hordes of giant alien menaces is a really fun time. I see why this series is so well-regarded. It's pretty basic and gets old after a couple hours, but it's a blasting game distilled to its most pure form.

I like the Rapier weapons that have short range and do massive damage. Enemies like to dog-pile onto you and this can clear them out.

I feel like the chaotic FFVII final battle theme would fit this game pretty well.


Being able to take flight and zip away from danger more than makes up for the Wing Diver's lower health and defense. This gives me room to find healing items.

There are something like 80 missions in this game, and most of them are only a few minutes long. So it's a good thing to play in small chunks.

"AIYEEEE" say the townspeople as they flee from giant spiders.

Giant Spider: "SEPH-I-ROTH!!"

Some of the battle arenas in this game are pretty cool, like this city under construction. Reminds me a bit of the PS1 Ghost in the Shell game, which also gave you massive freedom of movement.

Also like the traces of light left behind by your wings. Yeah, I can't imagine playing as the Generic Soldier NPC the game steers you towards when you can basically play as Mini-Xenogears instead.

It isn't all good, however. Problems begin creeping up before long. The underground areas are very dark and tend to turn into cave mazes that often don't make much sense. Some missions take WAY longer than they need to because you're lost in a cave network where you can't see anything.

Damn, look at the size of that tower. With my flight abilities, I could probably climb it. I decide to do that just for the sake of doing it.

Surprise trophy pop. Well, that's cool and unexpected.

Man, look at the view from up here. When this game is fun, it's a lot of fun. Really does bring me back to that Ghost in the Shell sense of freedom and being able to run up tall buildings just because they're there.

Before the game can get too far onto my good side, it's time for another major enjoyment-detriment. This giant Mothership thing begins appearing around a quarter of the way through the game, and it gives the fun factor a beating. Why? Because it has a massive "Genocide Cannon" that obliterates everything in the middle 50% or so of the arena every 40 seconds or so and one-shots you if you're in range. This makes it difficult to take out enemies in the affected area without having to constantly worry about getting one-shotted out of nowhere. You end up hiding from the mega-cannon, running in to take out a few enemies, and running back out. Then eventually your timing is off or you forget, and you get obliterated and start the mission over.

I manage to get through those missions in spite of the tyranny of the mega-cannon, and the next area has us fending off a beach landing of a Giant of Babil army.

Not gonna lie, missions like this are awesome especially if you pretend you're playing some sort of FF4 x Xenogears crossover shooter.

The humans fight back against the invasion of alien robots and ants by deploying increasingly-larger tanks.

The Genocide Cannon makes an unwelcome return here. Most of my deaths in the game so far have been due to insta-kills from that thing, usually when I'm almost done with a mission and am forced to go into its range to clean up the last few stragglers. Looked it up and there's nothing I can do except avoid it.

The missions start getting really tough after a little while, and I'm frequently scrounging for health packs while fleeing enemies.

Oh My God.

The ants...now have wings.

Ya know, this series must be amazing for people who love the movie Them! from the 1950's. A lot of people do.

The mothership makes YET ANOTHER completely unwelcome return. Apparently this is the last mission it appears in. Unfortunately, this is the worst of the lot, because in order to finish the mission you have to take out a lot of straggler flying ships that all hover in different areas under the cannon.

I sustain another death at a point where I didn't even know I was in range of the cannon. It's hard to pinpoint what's safe and what isn't because it's basically a nuclear explosion and covers a massive area.

AND ANOTHER ONE. This time I only had a couple of enemies left and was trying to get to them to pick them off. This wouldn't be quite so obnoxious if the cannon didn't fire every 40 or so seconds, or if it had a longer wind-up time to give you more notice.

ANNNNNNND another one.

Midway thoughts: This seems like a potentially fun arcade-style game, and the PS4 port looks fairly good for a cross-gen port. However it's got some really antiquated design decisions that drain some of the fun, and don't really fly in this day and age. Still, it was cool to finally check out one of these EDF games that I've always heard good things about. They certainly are fun, and the Giant Ant Invasion theme is something you never really see in games.

I finally get past the Starship level, which is IMO the hardest level in the game outside of maybe the final level. Which is pretty weird because it's only halfway through the game.


Damn, this game really DOES have everything!

Giant wasp invasion! "FIIIITHOS" they say.

Some nice scenery here as we head back outside. This game is at its best when you're fighting the monsters in the cities or rolling hills. I could do without the cave or indoor areas.

Next up: The Tripods. I mean these things are just straight-up tripods. I'm a HUGE fan of the Tripods book series. It got a TV series in Britain that unfortunately got cancelled after it covered the second book in the trilogy, so the third never got an adaptation to the screen.

A fair amount of people think the Tripod series is a ripoff of War of the Worlds but I disagree. Tons of similarities yes, but WOTW is more about a military invasion while the Tripods saga is more about subtle, insidious subversion and using media to brainwash people. Which feels much more like a threat, especially when no military can legitimately defeat you.

Next up we get gigantic robots to fight Godzilla with. This is cool in theory, except the giant robots are THE MOST IMMOBILE THINGS I'VE EVER PLAYED AS IN A GAME. Seriously, it takes like an entire 30 seconds to turn 180 degrees, and they punch like they're underwater on the moon.



Here's a Godzilla unleashing lightning breath at giant mechs!

A later level features an army of mechs versus an army of Godzillas. It's a great idea but in practice it is unpolished. The mechs usually all die off well before the enemies do, forcing you to snipe the last Godzilla for a while to get the win.

"Teeth of the Universe" is an incredible name.

And wow, there are SO MANY LEVELS.

Fun Fact: All of these tanks and friendly troops running around weren't in the original version of this game on the Xbox 360. They added in quite a bit for the PS4 remaster to make it feel more like a real battle.


My God. In later levels, the Thunder Sniper 15 was my best friend because it let me hit enemies at massive ranges, often before they could even get anywhere near being a threat.

This dragon is one of the toughest foes in the game, though, and UNLEASHES HELL.

A beach invasion. Remember those paltry "Giant of Babil" guys earlier? THIS thing is the real Giant of Babil, and completely towers over the other giants.

The final level has you dealing with a massive super-structure over a city.

The main point of the level is to sustain fire on this central core apparatus. However, there are about a zillion turrets and other parts of the ship that need to be knocked out as well when possible.

Allow too many turrets to live, and put yourself in the open, and it turns into a LASER HELLSCAPE.

The third and final "wave" of the level has these giant pods materializing to protect the core. They're so low to the ground that they can be blasted out of the way fairly easily.

More blasting of the core and it finally explodes. After 89 levels, the game is finally beaten. This took a loooooooooooong time and I had to do it in short bursts over months because the game is pretty repetitive. It's a great idea though and was fun. Onward to the next game in BUG HUNT.

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