Earth Defense Force is a strange beast (bug). On one hand, there is a literal buggy mess and on the other, there is an absolutely, wonderfully fun and over the top third person shooter. I won’t beat around the bush (hive), if you have ever loved an EDF game then you will love Iron Rain. It’s more of the same with some cool new additions and a big graphical enhancement. For newcomers to the series, EDF is a third person shooter franchise based on B movies. The plot sees aliens invade Earth and a military force attempting to fight back. Iron Rain is the first to be handed over to a new developer, Yuke’s, how did they get on?
The best news is that there is an absolute ton of gameplay and content on offer here. Once you finish the fifty mission strong main story there’s plenty more to do, from grinding out new equipment to taking on harder challenges for serious rewards. It can all be played online or on the couch with friends which is a HUGE selling point for these games. Grab two controllers, settle into the couch and blast Ants, Spiders, and Robots until the morning comes. It’s relaxing and a brilliant time with your mates. There’s even an odd, kinda fun, competitive mode included.
The story is pretty bonkers. Aliens have invaded Earth and you, yes your custom character, survived the original onslaught with a prototype exoskeleton that is specifically tied to your DNA. From there the story takes a couple of twists. Firstly, you need to fight back against the growing alien threat. Some of the boss battles are pretty spectacular in terms of scale. Secondly, there’s a political thriller here. Numerous human factions are all battling for resources and control over missions. You’ll meet a few characters, mostly crazy stereotypes with zero depth, as you uncover these enemy groups and attempt to work together to save the future of humanity. It’s fun and gives you a reason to strap on your exoskeleton and gun down aliens, it won’t win any awards but does it have to? Absolutely not. It’s almost refreshing for a game to not take itself too seriously and step into this role of simply bringing the fun.
The minute to minute gameplay carries over this sentiment. There’s a wide array of weapons that you can use the gun down your opponents and they all play differently. For a huge boss, you’ll likely want a sniper rifle to pinpoint weak spots. For a crazy horde of Spiders? Rocket Launcher is the only way to go. The amount of enemies on screen is wild and the framerate often suffers because of this. However, on the PS4 Pro, I had far fewer issues than the standard PS4 (I know, this is a shock). You choose your mission, difficulty, and loadout and then jump into a small environment where you’ll have an objective involving killing a certain enemy type. The annoyance is not being told exactly what you’ll be doing before you start the mission which makes it hard to prepare. Once you’re in you can’t change your loadout. I died intentionally and restarted a few times to be able to approach the mission in a different way.
The character customisation is strong here. Not only do you have a ton of items and weapons at your disposal but there’s a class system that offers some gameplay modifiers. Whether you’re dual wielding miniguns, using decoy dolls or just simply dashing from side to side, there’s so much choice on offer that you can change up your experience at a moment’s notice. I really had to play the game in short bursts, four or five ten minute missions a day. This meant the game never got stale and I always looked forward to jumping in for a hectic hour.
In terms of production value, Iron Rain feels like it could be from a different series. It’s still absolutely nuts to see huge ants and spiders crawling over buildings but the detail in the character models has been ramped up. The environments look crisper and cleaner and the extra detail in weapons and scenery definitely serves to take the series to the next level graphically. Sound follows suit although some of the voice acting is (likely intentionally) absolutely horrendous.