Flat out the most fun I’ve had at E3 so far was with the short demo I played for Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair for the PlayStation 4. The game, developed Sandlot and being published by XSEED Games in North America, is quite simply a blast.
The idea is this. There are giant enemy bugs invading the city, and the only thing stopping them from destroying everything is you and the rest of the Earth Defense Force. Who are these giant bugs and why are they trying to invade Earth? The short answer is that these “Ravagers” already invaded once in the year 2017. Now, eight years later, they’re back and even deadlier than before. However, the EDF is more than ready to face this threat.
My playthrough was of the third mission using the the Wing Diver, a character that could utilize a jetpack and was armed with a laser cannon and machine gun, though other weapons are available to be selected during the pre-mission load out. The mission was simple; just eliminate all of the giant ants that were invading the city. With that goal in mind for the next 10 minutes, I found myself just immersed in the game as I either ran around merely blasting giant ants to pieces, or took to the skies with the jetpack and started sniping away from the air as I glided through the rather large city. The controls were smooth and felt perfectly responsive. R2 allows you to fire your weapon while R1 will switch what weapon you are currently using, in my case, though, I tended to stick to the laser cannon just because of how satisfying it felt to pick off enemies from the air at a distance. The machine gun, however, is just as effective at killing off these pests. One particular weakness of the Wing Diver is that she works best as a ranged character due to her lower armor rating. Get too close to these ants and they’ll be liable to bite and grab you in a moment that honestly caught me by surprise. However, she fulfills this sniper role perfectly through the use of her jetpack which is activated with the jump button. Flying from building to building was easy to get used to, and, within a few minutes, I was happily picking off the ants from afar thanks to how smooth the aiming feels.
As for the technical side of things. I couldn’t detect any slowdown myself, and the game seemed to be running at a perfectly smooth 60fps even with 20-30 giant ants running amok and scurrying over the buildings and each other. In addition, the game itself looks gorgeous running at 1080p and will feature destructible environments. Also, something of note is that the game will support both split-screen multiplayer and online, with online being up to four players while local will be two. So, your roommate or a group of friends can team up for some bug exterminating fun.
To summarize, I’m actually really looking forward to more of this game. It’s hard to put into words why this game is just such a joy, but it is. There’s just something about not only watching giant ants scurry about over buildings and through the city, but just knowing I have to fight and exterminate these things that brings a smile to my lips. It’s like a cheesy B-movie brought to life, and I’m just waiting to be able to sit on the couch with a friend and spout off some one liners. While I’ve never played any of the Earth Defense Force games before this, now not only am I eagerly awaiting this game, but Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders From Planet Space for the PlayStation Vita, as well.
Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair is scheduled for a fall 2015 release. If you’re curious about one of the previous entries take a look at our review of Earth Defense Force 2025 of which this game is a re-imagining of.