Review: Earth Defense Force 4 (PlayStation 3)

Earth-Defense-Force-4-ReviewFinally the classic gameplay and style from the Chikyû Boueigun / Earth Defence Force / EDF series is back, but now with a truly incredible force behind it!.

If you are new to the Chikyû Boueigun here is an overview on what you've missed:

Once upon a time a developer called Sandlot was born from former employees of the long lost company Human Entertainment (who brought us Fire Pro Wrestling). Noticing there was a PlayStation 2 console in need of some fun budget games, Sandlot looked towards publisher D3 and their Simple 2000 Series (There are a few other hidden gems within its D3’s catalogue too (Simple 2000 Vol. 61: The OneeChanbara anyone?). Somewhere out of all that Chikyû Boueigun was created and people all across the world once more feared spiders!

The games are all 3rd person shooters, bar Global Defence Force Tactics (which is a Turn Based Strategy game). These feature huge scale battles, in various locations across the globe. Which sees you and the rest of earth fighting off an attacking horde of horrible monsters including, Giant Insects, Alien spacecraft, Robots and a few other surprises.

Earth Defense Force Retrospective

In 2003 The Chikyû Boueigun (Earth Defense Force) was released developed by Sandlot (Simple 2000 Series Vol.31), which was also released in Europe by Agetech under the guise of "Monster Attack". 

2 years later in 2005 (Simple 2000 Series Vol.81) TheChikyû Boueigun2 (Earth Defense Force 2) was released, again this was also released in Europe later in 2007 as "Global Defence Force" by Essential Games.

2006 (Simple 2000 Series Vol. 103) TheChikyû BoueigunTactics, Released as Global Defence Force Tactics in 2007 for Europe (Distributed by: Essential Games).

2006 brought Chikyû Boueigun3 to the Xbox 360. Later in 2007 this was released in Europe and to the USA for the first time, as Earth Defence Force 2017. You should really checkout Tepid Snake's review here if you have not already? I can honestly say earning the 1000G on EDF 2017 felt so rewarding (even if it did cook at least 1, if not 2 of my X360's.. It was worth their pain, such a great game)! Combined with hearing the unforgettable character banter.

July 2011 Earth Defense Force Insect Armageddon arrived for the PS3 & X360. This title was developed by Vicious Cycle (a subsidiary of D3 America), and is loosely based on a Chikyû Boueigun universe. Yet it has a drastically different style and feel to it. We recall a great deal of web chatter due to this.

The game isn’t terrible by any means, however it just doesn't fill that Chikyû Boueigun gap. I’ll elaborate on that sometime in the future I’m sure. It’s also worth noting that even in Japan this title is known as EarthDefense Force: Insect Armageddon.

2011 Chikyû Boueigun2 Portable arrived for the PSP a port of the PS2 game.

2012 Chikyû Boueigun3 Portable was delivered to the PlayStation Vita Japan Only Physical copy, and in the USA Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable Digital Download only!

July 2013 Chikyû Boueigun4 (EDF 2025) for the PS3 (Region Free) & X360 (Region Locked), due for EU & USA release early next year as Earth Defense Force 4.

All of the titles are delivered to you with fairly average graphics for the platforms at the time. Which fits in nicely with the general B-Movie theme of the series accompanied with its atmospheric musical score.

The controls are simple too, yet if not all feature a strange aversion to having your controls inverted whilst using the many vehicles throughout the series. Including: Hover Bikes, Tanks, Mechs, and Attack Helicopters. Bizarrely even as a strict inverted control player, it is an easy transition to make. Even if I like myself, you can’t play the game as the Ranger with the vanilla control scheme.

Historically speaking, you get to choose two weapons to take with you for the selected level, along with selecting the level of difficulty (bear in mind that you can only use those two weapons for the entire level, as there are no in level weapon changes), so choose wisely soldier.

In EDF2, EDF3 Portable a 2nd character known as Pale Wing was introduced for an added bit of variation & depth.

In the recent titles EDF IA and EDF4 you have a choice of 4 characters with whom you can fend off the enemy attack with to save the earth from those horrid bugs.

The sheer quantity of on screen chaos takes the original Chikyû Boueigun game, and every other in the series (regardless of the console its played on) into a bloody fiery slowdown shower. Sounds a bit rubbish huh, again NO! It actually adds to the charm and appeal of the outing.

The games also regularly feature the following essential item pick-ups: Health, does what you'd expect fills your life bar up. Armour, this is collected throughout the game and over time increases you max health. Which in turn will enable you to endure later levels and increase the difficulty, Weapons, these randomly add to your arsenal, but you do not necessarily get one of the few hundred you were looking for. More likely it will be something you already had, to get a better chance of something you really want, you're going to have to complete those higher difficulties.

Chikyû Boueigun 4 (Earth Defense Force 4) PS3 Review

You’re not from around here are you?

Firstly lets address the language barrier, with all the added toppings of current generation consoles the language barrier for importing has grown a little. Mainly due to the vast quantity of options and game modes, bonded with the massive opportunities for story telling thanks to increased media size.

But fear not, luckily there happens to be some handy guides around to assist you in navigating the Japanese text filled menus.

To be honest once you become familiar with what you should be selecting using the guide (which should only be a few games), its far harder to get your head around returning to the Japanese X is cancel, O is Confirm protocol *headplode*.

I don’t like you but I’ll fight with you! (Online Multiplayer)

The best moments found in the Chikyû Boueigun games are found shrouded in the gooey mist of co-operative play. Previously split screen was your only option on the PS2, and even the awesome EDF 2017 on the 360 lacked online play. EDF Insect Armageddon did bring this into the mix with 3 player co-op, but we'll talk about that another day. 

So yes, online multi player is finally available and it's here is where Sandlot have clearly taken some time and added an awful lot for us completionisit's to achieve. With an added bonus of being able to fully work together as a team of EDF soldiers. 
For starters the default settings to ensure that everyone is playing on a level playing field, are set so you can only use weapons within defined 'weapon level' ranges. Meaning no one will be obliterating the invaders, leaving you nothing to do due to under/over powered weaponry. In fact you are definitely going to have your work cut out, as the online version appears to significantly up the ante (hehe, Ant-E). Even on Normal difficulty there is a fair challenge, when playing through the same level compared to single player mode.

The Armour level carries over from your single player game, as is any weapons you may encounter on the way. Is my level completion progress transferred from my bug blasting efforts? Well I am unsure whether your single level progress is reflected in the co-operative game, and you are challenged with completing each level on each of the 5 difficulty levels with each character! TBC

The mix of characters also adds into that melting pot as by using certain soldiers together as a team can lead to some serious firepower.

EDF Units reporting for duty:

Ranger: The original old faithful, and best Power Ranger.

Wing Diver: The slick high flying (scantly clad of course) vixen! Returns with her usual array of insane screen melting weaponry.

Air Raider: Specialist in team building and oh yeah, Air Raids. Utilising this soldier unleashes numerous options for your team providing they have made the correct weapon choices.

Fencer: The Juggernaut of the team, packing some hefty weapons and major defensive abilities. This character travels very slowly whilst walking and turning, however due to its armoured mech suit has short burst vertical & horizontal boost capabilities.

If you opt for using its chain gun, bear in mind it takes a long time to get going and handles like a chain gun should (slow & steady certainly clears some space!).

Remember Scorpion from Mortal Kombat? Well the Fencer can equip a Scorpion esq Spear for use within a certain distance. Fortunately it doesn't bring those nasty Ravagers back with it; instead it does MASSIVE DAMAGE on entry.

Another added bonus for this beast is that the Fencer can also dual wield weapons & shields. So you get to 4 weapon slots out to play around with, I can’t wait to see what this fella can bring to the party when fully kitted out and potentially boosted by the Air Raider!

Take Control

One of the new additions to the controls surrounds the use of the D-pad, this is used for navigating the in-game and lobby online communication system. Allowing you to send messages to your team or an individual, ideal if you don't want or use voice chat. You can also select chants, gestures and alike (loved this on Lost Planet 2). However being unable to read Japanese I’ve been left randomly scrolling thru several windows and selecting the most audible option, whilst waiting for a revive from random Japanese players?

It doesn't operate in single player mode unfortunately, which is a shame if like me you'd happily use the taunts on the incoming Hectors!

The Select button providing you have enough health yourself can be used to revive a downed teammate, if you can fight your way through the swarm to be in close enough proximity to reach them?

Lets get ready to rumble

As the game starts you can expect to be greeted with hordes of terrified citizens running for their life, and EDF soldiers jeering ready to get into action.

Heads up soldier! Both are vulnerable to your shots so be careful with that trigger finger. There is no penalty so to speak for hitting NPC’s, but as you can see in this video you may suffer a terrible fate when using anything explosive (also you will likely need those soldiers to be fighting alongside you)!

Your online co-op squad on the other hand may be slightly miffed should you accidently bazooka them or similar? Which could either result in them leaving you at the mercy of the Ravagers, or maybe take matters into their own hands…

It’s around this time when you are going to notice that everything in this Chikyû Boueigun is pretty damned big. The Ants are BIG and seriously pissed off! They’ll charge you down given the chance, and if they manage to take a bite? They’ll literally chew you up, and when they get bored, spit you out! Sending you hurtling across the area, or if your really unlucky rag doll rolling down into their pit.

Now sooner or later whilst you’re going about you elimination business some of those buildings are going to come crashing down. Whether it’s due to your firepower or something else, get ready to feel and visibly see your entire field of vision monumentally shake. That screen shake can be switched off within the options by the way, but why would you NOT want it on? This is WAR!

Your joypad’s rumble feature will also be getting one hell of a work out too, so if you’ve recently had a fracture or soft tissue damage you’ve been warned.

More than most likely everything's getting a little bit chaotic now, you'll probably be surrounded by showers of orange, red, or purple. Falling debris, insects & limbs being flung all round the place, and lasers, so prepare yourself for some legendary (game making, not breaking) slowdown!

At present I've experienced some minor stuttering too and a few pauses? Which were disappointing, but certainly not game breaking. Hopefully they’re patchable; maybe it only happens on the PS3 (360 users let us know please)? We will just have to wait and see.

Getting back to the grind

EDF veterans will know the score with the grinding in this series, newcomers better be prepared to invest substantial time if becoming an Inferno master is their end goal.

Anyone can finish the game by playing through on easy (it’s in the difficulty name after all!), however you’ll still require a slow grind to keep increasing your max health as the levels progress.

Health is increased by picking up the Armor boxes throughout the levels, which are added to your characters stock once completing the level. However each character requires a different quantity of Armor boxes to increase their health stock by 1HP. Ranger, Wing Diver, Air Raider, Fencer,

Due to the vast amount of Ravagers in later levels you are destiny bound to be revisiting earlier levels to increase those health stats or you won’t be going anywhere soon, notch up that difficulty too high at the start and you’re going nowhere soldier.

It’s worth noting that as usual completing a harder difficulty mission doesn't tick off lower difficulties as done; you need to finish each level difficulty individually.

Whilst that may sound like a real pain in the ass, it does assist you with your other quest to attain the plethora of randomly dropped weapons. Especially as you now have 4 characters with unique weapons to collect for, 785 in total. Pretty frustrating at times when you finish a mission collecting 30 weapon boxes only to find none are NEW for you. Then replay the same mission again picking up the same quantity as previous, but end up adding 4,17, or maybe zero NEW weapons? It’s just the luck of the draw.

This was a task master on EDF 2017 with the last weapon only dropping after completing the game on Inferno difficulty, and we imagine with this one, its going to be really “out there” in terms of getting it done (85 Levels in single players, 9-10 additional available in online mode)!

Sum Of All Fears

Now I have intentionally neglected to tell you a great many pieces of story & Ravager content purely because I honestly believe you need to experience this for yourselves. I’ve personally not even touched the sides myself on this EDF, but I can tell you this really is the Chikyû Boueigun we’ve all been waiting for (even with those minor niggles). It is a faithful continuation of the series bringing everything you know and love from the Chikyû Boueigun series and at the same time really expands on how you can play the game. I can envisage some seriously epic battles being fought out on Inferno difficulty.

What's next?

Well, for starters I need to eliminate the Ravagers! After that we’re totally anticipating playing it through all over again when the English language version arrives, I need to know how the character plots are developing. It will also be great to find out what random messages I’ve (accidently of course) been sending my random Japanese online soldiers?

I’m also keen to see how the X360 version fairs against the PS3 game, for stutter, slowdown, and load times (Does it install? Let us know if you’re a JPN X360 owner.*X360 is can be installed & is a lot quicker loading! Also seems to be more vibrant and crisp graphically?

There was some pretty bonkers Japanese pre-order DLC around to, will the PAL & NTSC-U gamers be party to this we wonder? Another question is; will Sandlot be delivering any further DLC content such as extra levels? In our dreams… Whoa, WAIT! This DLC just happened whilst writing this: 400 Yen for PS3 or 320 M$P grants you 5 Missions! Search, Parade of Giants, Silver Thread Squad, Fortress, and Floating Armada!

The DLC for the game (if your NTSC-J PS3 disc arrives with any?) requires you have a JPN PSN account, hence it will not download to a European account.

Should you wish to use it you will have to set up a new Japanese PSN account on your console with a Japanese Locality, it's a fairly simple process, but beware it opens a door to spending lots of Yen on retro titles in the PSN store.

Interesting bit of info: Chikyu-Boueigun is a 1957 Japanese Sci Fi Movie "The Mysterians"


Further Reading:

Last Updated ( 27 February 2014 )  


Katsu is RetroCollect's indestructible bullet hell spaceship! With a love of all things Shmup, Fighting, Arcade & 2D. When he's not out delivering retro related challenges at gaming events? He'll most likely be scouring the site or twitter, whilst playing 4 Pokémon games simultaneously!?

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+1 (Link to this comment) Loch and Quay 2014-02-28 15:50
...So did you like it? :P Thanks for the article, hopefully it will inspire readers to take the plunge and give it a go, anyone who likes action games and finds themselves wandering away from the big-budget mainstream series should get a kick out of this.

One Q Katsu, do you know what the weapon levels are for? Dunno if I'm not checking hard enough but they didn't seem to make any difference to the guns' stats which is what I was expecting.
(Link to this comment) Katsu 2014-02-28 19:44
Like it? Ermmm I'm not sure....

The weapon levels relate purely to the on-line aspect.

So for Mission 6 for example you may only use weapons of level 0-3 for example on Normal difficulty & your armor as an Air Raider regardless of your single player total would be restricted to 458 or less if you've not attained it yet.

The Mission 6 on HARD difficulty you may only use weapons of level 0-26! & your armor as an Air Raider regardless of your single player total would be now restricted to 1579 or less if you've not attained it yet and so on!
(Link to this comment) Loch and Quay 2014-03-02 01:14
Ah, thank you for explaining, was quite vexed by the increasing levels and non-increasing stats.
(Link to this comment) Katsu 2014-03-06 11:47
Quoting Loch and Quay:
Ah, thank you for explaining, was quite vexed by the increasing levels and non-increasing stats.

No problem, glad to be of assistance.

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