The lights are on
Disclaimer: I use the 10 point rating system differently than GI. I rate average games as 5 as apposed to 7 to allow for a greater differentiating between above average titles. That being said if one of my scores seems a little low, it’s not just me being overly negative. The fourth entry in the EDF series breaks from tradition with an excellent spin-off title. After the success of 2017 it’s no surprise that IA has set it’s sights squarely on the western dollar. D3 has taken a huge gamble letting the only marginally successful developer Vicious Cycle craft their own interpretation of the classic EDF formula. Thankfully destroying waves of mindless aliens with over the top weaponry is successful on premise alone, and it doesn’t hurt that Vicious Cycle has emulated the basic EDF gameplay to a tee. EDF is not a series for everyone. The games release at 2/3 the price of most retail games, and are developed not to compete with AAA titles in the realms of graphics or narrative, but deliver simple and addictive gameplay. For most the lowered price of admission makes the rough edges a little easier to swallow, though this may not be as soothing to all gamers. The first thing returning fans should know about IA is that it is not 2017. Personally I found that my expectations for a new EDF title did not align with the direction of the new game. At first I was disappointed with nearly all changes from the previous games, see: http://www.gameinformer.com/blogs/members/b/garypryor_blog/archive/2011/07/03/earth-defense-force-insect-armageddon-first-impressions.aspx After spending many more hours with IA I can confidently say that it is not worse than 2017 only different. For every redaction there is an addition, and when all is said and done the game ends up two steps to the side as opposed to the step forward I was expecting. If you want online co-op IA is your best and only choice, and depending on how highly you value that experience will determine which game is your number one choice. IA is composed of 2 main gameplay modes a 15 mission campaign, and a never ending horde mode. The campaign mode places you in the boots of the three man (human or bots) lightning squad, where you suit up in one of four upgradeable armor types and blaze a violent path through the bug infested streets of New-Detroit. Your objectives are dictated by the strangely British disembodied voice of an EDF dispatcher, and typically have you moving to a point and either destroying a target (like an anthill or carrier), or destroying several waves of enemies. Little variation in these objectives gets old quick, and every new enemy type (there are only 12 and 3 are basically palate swaps) or boss is a much needed breath of fresh air. The dialog from your fellow dispatch and a few supporting characters, is fairly funny and helps to add a sense of progression even though you are still just ruining to points and shooting the same enemies. With every mission you complete you gain experience points that level up the armor type you are currently wearing. Higher levels give both passive boosts and access to more powerful weapons. With the small amount of experience gained from completing a mission, and the fact that the level cap is tied to the difficulty you select, expect to replay the same missions many many times if you want to reach the highest ranks. As for the class system itself the differences between the different armor types is marginal, and you are rewarded for sticking with one type at a time if you wish to become more formidable, so once you decide you like turrets better than jump-packs, there is little reason to experiment with the other armors. Oddly your experience does not carry to or from survival mode. While the six player online mode is chaotic glee with a full team of friends, it’s mind boggling why you are limited to the trooper class and only a small handful of weapons. This is the one area of the game where the minor differences in the armors could have been used to great effect, creating balanced teams and varying tactics. As it stands this mode is a casual and mainly social endeavor. As a social game is in fact where IA truly shines. If you have ever put hours into the lackluster X-Men arcade release, or any other fun first multiplayer game, this is a must have game. Ravaging New-Detroit with infinite rockets while laughing at your squadmates brilliant dialog is about as fun as multiplayer gets. With the core gameplay being as simple and solid as this the entry bar is incredibly low allowing gamers of most skill levels to enjoy it. I can recommend this game to my 50 year old father and my 10 year old little brother, and they both equally enjoy it. Expect to meet many different types of players online, with the common denominator being that they are there for fun first, a feat which is achieved far to little in the world of online gaming.EDF! EDF!
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