I have a weird soft spot for the Earth Defense Force series and all its campy bug-infested weirdness. Ever since Earth Defense Force 2025 I’ve enjoyed entering a world where I could shoot gigantic bugs and whatever else the game decides to throw at me. However, something happened… Have my eyes been opened? Because Earth Defense Force 5 is actually bad… like, really bad.
Some may say that I’m blinded by this world and its swarms of gigantic insects, but I’ve been acutely aware of how bad the game is, but the enjoyment you get from blowing away hordes of bugs outshines any flaws. Plus, what other game will have you duke it out against a gigantic frog or lizard? However, it seems the quality has completely dipped in the last few games.
While I missed out on Earth Defense Force 4.1, I couldn’t wait to get back into the next main entry into the series, but almost immediately I couldn’t wait to stop playing. Not because the game is bad – I mean, it is, but it’s still the same “great” gameplay found in previous titles. It’s the game’s dialog that’s so utterly appalling that I just couldn’t stand listening to it for a moment longer.
So it seems D3 Publisher have tried to inject some sort of origin story into Earth Defense Force 5. You begin the game in some sort of banal tutorial where you’re nothing more than a security guard training for your first day at the Earth Defense Force facility. Why the Earth Defense Force needs to hire a civilian security guard is beyond me, but there we go.
After you’re taught how to perform basic movement, things start to go awry. There are screams, lights begin to flash, and there are Earth Defense Force units being deployed, however, your training supervisor assures you things are fine. Until alarms start to go off then things MUST be wrong. But hey, let’s waddle down some hallways and enter this ominous blast door. Oh look, there’s a giant ant gobbling up your supervisor. Good first day, right?
Fortunately, or unfortunately, a small team of Earth Defense Force soldiers are nearby who put an end to the “monster” and proceed to recruit this civilian to the team to help defeat the monster invasion – or take him to safety, I’m not really sure at this point. This is where most of this god awful dialogue begins. Pretty much throughout the game you’re constantly being reminded how you’re a civilian with no skills, you’re berated for being just a civilian, and how the EDF will get you to safety.
But, as Earth Defense Force 5 progresses, the EDF team, despite being lead by their own commander, seem to do nothing but follow you around. Sure, it could be to “keep you safe”, but surely they’d be telling you where to go, not following you around like a pack of donkeys.
To add to that, this dialogue fails to address the fact that you’re fighting gigantic bugs and are constantly trying to blame someone else for the invasion – even though there are giant UFO’s clouding the sky and causing utter chaos. Surely it’s the Russians, right? I get it, this B-Movie dialogue has always been present in Earth Defense Force, but at the same time, this latest entry is cheesier than a cheese pizza with extra cheese. It seems like a good idea, but ultimately it’s just too much and there’s grease everywhere.
In terms of gameplay, Earth Defense Force 5 is actually a lot of fun if not somewhat overwhelming compared to previous entries. It seems rather than improving the visuals of the acid-spitting ants or the crumbling world around, they’ve utilized the power of current-gen consoles to pile even more shit into the world for you to blow up which is a hell of a lot of fun. The only thing I can pick at is the sheer amount of loot these aliens drop. These consist of health, armor, and weapons, however, the end of the mission comes so suddenly you barely get a chance to swoop around and collect them all, and there is a` lot to collect.
Visually, the game feels much like other games in the series. Sure, the world seems much bigger than previous games, and as before there are plenty more enemies being packed onto the screen with explosions everywhere, but the AI seems just as dumb as ever. In one of the 110 missions, flying saucers would often be tangled in buildings or bridges before finally breaking free. Swarms of bugs would become so hectic, you could simply just stand amongst a gigantic crowd of them with your finger on the trigger and come away unscathed.
While the story in Earth Defense Force 5 could be an original story about a lowly employee becoming a member of the EDF, it’s instead an explosive romp through hordes of gigantic alien bugs where you’re constantly berated for being a civilian until shit gets real and your true potential as an Earth defending soldier is realized, but you have to slog through several missions in order to get to this point.
What perplexed me the most was how the Earth Defense Force seems to be unprepared for this attack, despite being a military force that has been assembled to protect Earth. Not only that, their ineptitude to actually accept that this is an alien invasion despite several cliches and obvious tropes (flying saucers, mother ships, huge spears falling from the sky which spawn gigantic bugs), becomes tedious after a while.
Also, has the Earth Defense Force universe never seen an ant or spider before? Is this universe entirely bug-free? There are so many questions which never seem to be answered, no matter how many times the game tries to explain things with cheesy dialogue via news reports or mission objectives.
Earth Defense Force 5 has its pros and cons, but sadly it’s the latter which seems to shine through more than the former. I imagine playing the game co-operatively would be more fun as you’d be able to chuckle at the painful dialogue and voice lines as they’re barked at you. However, committing a good ten or fifteen hours to the game solo is a slog I’m not sure I’d want to repeat.