Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair Review

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Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair can be viewed in one of two ways: You may call it a messy, partially-broken, derivative third-person shooter, or you may view it as a brilliant homage to classic Japanese monster movies that offers countless hours of old-school fun. Personally, I find myself in the latter camp. It’s an absurdly addictive shooter that simply doesn’t care for fancy graphics or technical polish, and it’s one of the few games that can actually get away with it. 

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair is a stand-alone successor, or more like an new-gen upgrade, to Earth Defense Force 2025 from last year. Note that I’m not calling it an HD-remake, because like the original, Earth Defense Force 4.1 is an absolute mess that can barely keep up with the onscreen action. And yet, much like the brilliant Dynasty Warriors series, it’s the perfect title to unwind and just blow shit up. It’s an old-school kind of experience that some will love, while others might hate.


"It’s an absurdly addictive shooter that simply doesn’t care for fancy graphics or technical polish, and it’s one of the few games that can actually get away with it."

The premise of Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair is simple. Pick your class and shoot hundreds upon hundreds of giant bugs and alien robots in a semi open-world environment. No fancy CGI cinematics, no real narrative, just good old-fashioned third-person action accompanied by hilariously bad dialogue. There are four classes to choose from: Ranger, Wing Diver, Air Raider, and the mighty Fencer. Each class provides completely different gameplay styles. 

The Ranger handles like your typical army man and is the most well rounded choice, while the Air Raider is more of a support character for co-op/multiplayer sessions but makes a bad combatant when playing solo. The Wing Diver can fly, is fast, and has an explosive bazooka cannon, but her health depletes quickly when under heavy fire. Then there is the Fencer…slow moving, mighty, mechanical knight who’s extremely powerful in melee combat but frustratingly slow when moving around.

This diverse cast of combatants offers fantastic gameplay variety and brings endless replayability to the 80+ missions. Environments are impressively large and everything is destructible which leads to some hectic and memorable moments. Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair is very similar to Dynasty Warriors in style. The screen fills with chaos within seconds and despite simplistic controls, the action never gets old. Earth Defense Force 4.1 is tremendously fun in single-player, but the real joy is in sharing the crazy experience in either multiplayer or split-screen co-op. Taking on horde after horde of giant insects with a buddy is so much more enjoyable, especially with the ridiculously cheesy AI banter echoing in the background.


"Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair isn’t a big improvement over its last-gen predecessor, but it’s still a stupendously enjoyable experience brimming with replay value and a ton of content."

From a technical standpoint, Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair  feels like an early alpha build from a decade ago. The engine can’t keep up with the action and the frame rate fluctuates constantly. Luckily, the destructible cities feel alive, especially when several buildings are crumbling, and you really get a sense of being in a low-budget monster flick. The developers teased of a possible PC port and if this comes to fruition, then Earth Defense Force 4.1 has potential to be quite the looker.

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair isn’t a big improvement over its last-gen predecessor, but it’s still a stupendously enjoyable experience brimming with replay value and a ton of content. If you’re looking for addictive multiplayer mayhem with tremendous replay value and a ton of charm, you absolutely have to give EDF 4.1 a try. 

Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: Playstation 4

7.5

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