This generation has been absolutely full of remakes and updated ports, where what once was a simple success could live again on a more modern platform. With Sleeping Dogs, Deadpool, and Metro all seeing new lives in the modern age, one would begin to wonder when the doors would open for the hidden gems of the prior generation. Well, Earth Defense Force 4.1 – The Shadow of New Despair is our first answer to that question, as it brings back the fun of 2025 and blends it with polish and improvements to make it feel as if this title was a new release. Does that extra charge do enough to warrant a whole new purchase? Let’s find out.
I almost feel like giving an opinion about the story to Earth Defense Force 4.1 is doing it a disservice. You are not supposed to care, and this title doesn’t want you to care – as it simply stitches together 2017 with this romp and moves about its day, without a worry in the world. Its been seven years since the last attack, and your squad must save the world from giant insects, robots, reptiles, and plenty of other creatures before everyone’s doom is met.
Yep, that’s about it. Its kind of like a Godzilla movie with no script and a lot of extra costumes. It looks so bad its good, and the player simply gets to enjoy themselves by playing a minor part in a role among a full feature B movie. Before anyone thinks I am trying to take away the awesome stylings that EDF, I’m not. I’m simply putting down my own perception, as I found the whole plot to not really move – yet still provide blast of organized chaos that truly makes the charms from the team involved shine
As I mentioned, you are of of the Earth Defense Force. Not so much a starring character, but a member of a winning team – nevertheless. Players from the start can pick from one of four classes of soldier. The most basic is the Ranger class, which can utilize a heavy amount of weaponry such as various guns, rocket launchers, grenades, and also take advantage of the many vehicles within the game. Next up is my personal favorite, which is the Wing Diver. This class can take to the skies due to their jet pack for a limited time, scoping out the area and coming from above with quick attacks.
Air Raider is that class you don’t really want to be stuck with – as the action is less involved. Ordering massive air attacks, healing (while offering protection), and bringing in toys for the Rangers to play with in the form of vehicles may sound strategic, but not being at the center in this chaotic battlefield is just a bit stale – to put it nicely. The fencer rounds things off by offering the heavy artillery. Slow – but armored, waddling – but strong, this class acts as a fine balance to the squad, and while it isn’t fun to play as that Air Raider, multiplayer is better for each as everyone’s task at least feels important, even if the enemies seem to fall in the same format with little strategy needed.
The controls, much like in past EDF installments are still tight and functional, providing an easy scheme to wrap your head around for a fun and simple experience. I thought that things might have changed with the whole generation jump, but you will be pleased to know that the original accessibility is still there. The game is in third person (but the perspective can be changed), and revolves around a mission based scenario, where the player must trek through cities with their squad, freeing the poor townsfolk from the grasps of waves of enemies until each are obliterated, one by one. Sure, there are some objectives – but even breaching new areas and destroying bases doesn’t feel too involved, as the game never seems to try to get the player to focus anything but the destruction. You get a ton of weapons to toy with and with each class, this adds up to one of the broadest loadouts ever for a game of this span, so that really isn’t a bad thing. Remember the classics where you were provided with a decent amount of weaponry, but all that really mattered was to get in there and kill? Earth Defense Force has and continues to go with that gimmickry, not allowing itself to be fully realized in order to provide a more enjoyable and mindless time for every player who joins in.
That is both a curse and a blessing, as not attempting to break out of the mission-based formula hurts the experience. I understand what Earth Defense Force wants to do, and it achieves its mission of nonsensical combat without question. Thankfully a lot of problems with glitches have been fixed as well The variation of enemies kept me satisfied personally (as almost everything is over the top, especially later in), but not having enough of a change of pace made me feel like I was doing the same thing, over and over on foes that felt different to fight, but came with the same result upon defeat. Sure, its rewarding to take down a bizarre dragon or an annoying spider that leads to death quickly, but you can only have so much of boom before the explosions become expected and predictable. Sure, this game has a ton of content that will keep you interested, and customizing your character with unlocked weapons while playing with the insane vehicles dropped is delicious, but why not offer just a fraction of substance to make the meal filling?
As a big bonus – and I do mean big, 4.1 features all of the DLC packs that were DLC packs in the first release. Sure, we see this with a lot of titles, but instead of skins and generic DLC, 2025 offered a ton of extra missions and more meat. We also have more NPCs on the ground at once. Now, I played the original a lot upon release and I didn’t notice a big change as lets face it, an NPC with a normal weapon and your specialized class have a lot of separation, but it is nice to have bit of a bigger army – even if the concept doesn’t come together to prove too useful. Even though some might roll their eyes at that, you can tell you are playing a new version of an old favorite as unlike Deadpool and Sleeping Dogs, I give Sandlot props on changing up the feel to create something slightly more modern.
I was not a huge fan of the visuals in 2025 as there was so much clipping, even though the models looked decent. A lot of that has been fixed here and the chaos now runs wild in 1080p without much of a struggle whatsoever. In that aspect, this indeed looks like the most polished EDF to date. That said, if you are looking for a game that looks like it came out of the future or even runs at the caliber of something like DICE would create – well, just enjoy the camp and stop expecting as 4.1 still is a bit rusty to look at but is now more enjoyable to play due to the better animation overall.
The sound I actually liked. The soundtrack is generic and easy to tune out, but the voiceovers and dialogue give EDF 2025 a bit of a boost in the charm department. Citizens scream bloody murder while running on the streets, and your team are known for making quick and obscene one liners that really highlight the tongue-in-cheek nature that has made this series continue to appear in the west. The enemies themselves don’t really do much to capture your attention with sound effects even though the hisses and scowls are present, which is only a light offense as some more polish in that area would have definitely provided a bit more insanity for players to chew on.
Earth Defense Force 4.1 – The Shadow of New Despair is the same old game with a shiny new pair of shoes. Not only does this version run better, but it also adds more content and fixes a lot of old problems that were only minor- but still hampered the original just a tad. You are not going to get rid of the cheese and nonsense with any EDF as that is where the soul comes from, but The Shadow of New Despair is fresh enough to give the franchise a foot in the door to a new audience, where it is sure to infest the hearts of a whole new generation.