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Game Info:

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair|
Developed By: Sandlot/D3 Publisher
Published By: XSEED Games
Release Date: December 8, 2015
Available On: PS4
Genre: Third person shooter
Number of Players: 1-4
ESRB Rating: M for Blood, Language, Violence
MSRP: $49.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Thank you XSEED Games for sending us this game to review!

Imagine that the real world is just like a bad B-movie: aliens really are attacking the Earth, and spaceships are dropping off gigantic ants larger than a semi truck, each of which seeks to destroy civilization as we know it for their own nefarious ends.  Now, imagine that you are a part of the Earth Defense Force: an elite force tasked with saving humanity from the alien invasion in the only method that matters: blowing up those bugs (and robots and spaceships and...) with extreme force.  This isn't a dream, its EDF!

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair (sometimes called EDF) is a remake of the fourth game in the series, which was formerly called Earth Defense Force 2025.  While there technically is a plot, it's pretty much irrelevant: your job is to blow up the bad guys.  All of them.  And without any concern for collateral damage.  

In many ways, this is a very pure game in its simplicity.  No complex plot, combat, enemies, or what have you.  It's a third person shooter, where you see over the shoulder of your character, and you just kill swarms of enemies, while watching for items that they often drop on death.  And sometimes there are many dozens of enemies to fight.  The enemies drop health, armor, and weapons.  It is in the weapon drops where the real depth of this game is, and each class is uniquely useful.

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair
Highlights:

Strong Points: Massive battles with a ridiculous number of opponents; giant insects; fast paced action; giant arachnids; split screen and online multiplayer is a blast; giant monsters; good graphics and solid frame rate; giant flying saucers and more; insane weapon variety; humorous background announcements
Weak Points: I hope you aren't afraid of giant bugs
Moral Warnings: Massive quantities of violence against alien invaders; words like 'sh*t', 'd*mn', 'h*ll', 'b*st*rd'; lots of blood; Wing Diver shows cleavage and midriff

There are four classes: the Ranger, Pale Wing, Air Raider, and Fencer.  Each of these has a specialization.  Rangers are infantry units, such that they have a fair amount of hit points, and a whole lot of weapon variety.  They can use vehicles that are available in the level, but otherwise only travel on foot.  They are great for beginners, and where constant firepower is desired (which is most of the time).  They are always a solid asset.

Wing Divers are a female only class that differentiate themselves in one big way: flight.  They wear special light weight jetpacks that allow them very nimble movements, but at a cost: they have very light armor.  As such, they are really susceptible to attacks, and can easily kill themselves if a plasma shot explodes too closely.  But they are a ton of fun to play, because their shots do some solid damage, and flying around and dodging shots is just fun no matter what.  Their biggest catch is that they have to manage energy; their jetpack and most weapons use the same power source, so energy management is key.  There is little worse than being surrounded by bugs but being only able to watch them kill you as you wait for energy regeneration.  And, of course it's bad to get caught in a spider web, which is totally a thing for Wing Divers...

Air Raiders are a very powerful but multiplayer focused class.  They do not attack enemies themselves directly, but instead call upon vehicles and air strikes. Air strikes are... awesome.  But without cover fire from a friend, it can be a real challenge to survive in between actions.  It's an advanced class that is certainly rewarding if you get a good partner.  

Fencers are a challenging class, in that you move very slowly, but are literally a walking suit of power armor, carrying more weapons than any other class.  Getting around with better speed requires some trickier techniques; this is a great advanced class, but get the hang of other classes first.

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 71%
Violence - 3.5/10
Language - 6/10
Sexual Content - 8/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

Other than just the various classes, wacky enemies, and frantic action, the other main draw to keep coming back to this game is the many varied drops, especially weapons.  Armor drops increase your max hit points; it goes up based on how many you pick up on each level.  But weapon drops are the real hook.  Depending on your map level and difficulty level, drop can vary in power significantly.  There are tons of different weapon types, as well as levels for the weapons themselves.  And, each class has to be powered up individually.  So, if you make a very powerful Ranger class, but want to level up an Air Raider, be prepared to go back to much earlier levels to do so until you are buffed up on both weapons and armor to be able to handle later levels.  

On easy and normal difficulties, the enemy counts are relatively light.  As you go up to hard, hardest, or inferno, you better be ready.  After about fifteen missions, I thought it would be fun to try the first level on hard, as I was hoping to score some really powerful guns.  Not gonna happen.  Things really ramp up fast, and you have to be ready – and more skilled.  The opportunity cost when you miss a shot if there are swarms of them crawling over each other trying to get to you can be quite significant if you are waiting for a reload or for energy to return.

During your time blowing things up, you often hear voices and announcements over the intercom, which are sometimes quite humorous.  You also occasionally may hear the Infantry units shouting 'EDF! EDF! EDF!'.  The voices will sometimes say other things less appropriate, including words like 'b*st*rd', 'd*mn', 'h*ll', and 'sh*t'.  This, along with the music and sound effects, keep tensions high as you try to wipe out the invasion with prejudice.  There is enemy blood, but mostly in the form of red splashes.  When humans get hit, blood also splatters.  If it wasn't obvious, there is plenty of violence, especially weaponized (guns, cannons, etc.) as you blow the baddies to bits.  The Wing Diver also shows cleavage and midriff, though you mostly see her from the rear while playing.

After seeing some pre-release information about Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair, I was really hoping for the chance to review this, and I'm glad I did.  I do prefer this game over the PS Vita game we also are reviewing, EDF 2, but that one is also great and portable, if that is what you are looking for.  The levels aren't super long, so it's fun to play with friends to pass around the controller.  A friend of mine was over, and we started playing this game before 9pm after a Bible study one evening... and played until well after 11pm.  It's just a blast to play with a friend.  Though it was hilarious when a girl who is afraid of spiders shrieked the first time she saw one while we were playing!  The graphics are very good and with a solid frame rate.  If B-movie violence, blood, and the occasional PG-13 curse word is acceptable to you, I highly recommend Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair.  It's simply a blast.  

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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