What makes Earth Defense Force unique is the selling point. Since it’s a series built around being so bad it’s somehow good, it can only progress so much before it becomes one or the other. Thus far the solution has been to improve some things, retain other things and try to maintain the same level of charm. With Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain being less of a direct sequel and one built more around western ideals, does it manage to finally be a good game or is it another cheesy adventure that simply has a western flare?
Part of what makes Earth Defense Force: Iron Rainand really the franchise as a whole is how seriously they take ridiculous situations. This adventure starts by ‘aggressors’ appearing in a large ship known simply as the Hivecraft. It’s basically a floating platform that has a giant anthill, which has brought giant ants to take care of things. However, with the aid of a mysterious power that let’s us overcharge our armor and better tactics, we just might be able to stop this alien threat.
When you take a step back, the story offers just enough to get into it, without enough to really take it seriously. This is another thing that works really well for bad things that manage to be good. A lot of time isn’t spent asking why or questioning things, most things are simply that way and presented as such. We’re not bogged down in details about how giant ants manage to be extremely stupid, yet somehow mastered interstellar travel, nor are there concerns of how they can get to Earth without bothering to further enhance their bodies, despite Earth’s forces using power armor. Ultimately, everything is about presenting the idea and just going with it. Will this appeal to everyone? Certainly not, yet it’s the type of thing that just makes sense given the subject matter. For everyone else, the experience comes down to gameplay.
Arguably my favorite thing about games like Earth Defense Force: Iron Rainis the ability to see just how bad a game can actually bad. There is an odd mixture of PlayStation 2-era over the top size magazines and mechanics, unnaturally stiff animations and quality, for the content, graphics. It looks like it should play far better than it actually does, with gameplay sections feeling something between underwhelming and unsatisfying.
For better or worse, most of the insects do little more than come at you. Sure, they have their own quirks, mechanics and behaviors but much of this is just an attempt to overwhelm you. To aid your journey, there is a wide variety of weapons, mostly your standard array of weapons, designed to get you out of a variety of situations. Naturally, the best strategy is to have something that quickly dispatches and another that can pick things off, forcing players to plan accordingly.
Part of what prevents Earth Defense Force: Iron Rainfrom being dull is the way bodies are handled. Similar to previous versions, dead bodies will continue to stack and be an obstacle that everyone needs to deal with. It’s hard to take giant ants climbing on their fallen brethren seriously, just like explosives are oddly satisfying. Not due to their power or options they present, but rather, seeing enemies explode into ‘tiny’ pieces.
The success of the series largely comes down to your ability to suspend belief and giving players just enough realism to make it work. It’s entirely possible to blow up a building, though an ants dismembered head flying at you will do nothing, just like these creatures can walk on them without fear of destroying them. And, when you add the ability to play with others, giving them giant robots and other insane things, it gets to a point where you know what you’re getting yourself into.
When it comes to Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain, a lot of things are set in, well, iron. It isn’t a good game, not by a long shot, though it also isn’t trying to be one either. Ultimately, the intent is to make a silly adventure with a wide array of weapons and powers, that you can also play with others, against a foe that is simply cheesy. Regardless of how widespread or narrow the appeal is, it’s the type of adventure that will speak to the intended audience and scare off the rest. So, even if it’s impossible to give Earth Defense Force: Iron Raina high or even average score, it’s the type of game that fans and those who love B movies can pick up and laugh at.
[Editor’s Note: Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]