If you’re someone with a fear of bugs and can’t stand the idea creepy crawlies lingering around you, then you’re going to want to stay away from Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain. The level of crazy eight-legged freaks and vicious giant bugs is staggering and will probably make you have a heart attack. Can you imagine seeing a giant roach with an explosive backside that propels it like a rocket? If you can’t handle that, then you’re better suited staying away. But if you have a steel will and no problem busting up legions of bugs, then you’ll have some fun in this new entry into the Earth Defense Force series. Giant explosions, giant bugs attacking, and even alien invader mechs are some of what you’ll encounter in Iron Rain, which has a tongue-in-cheek, b-movie style sense of humor that is akin to something like Starship Troopers. Unfortunately, the game is burden by a few poor design choices that take away from the charm.
Jumping into the many missions of Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is simple and gets you right into the action. You can choose a load out of weapons, with more unlocking as you progress, as well as equipment to assist you on the field. Fighting the hordes of giant bugs that constantly pursue you is fun the first few times you take out a group with a giant explosion from grenades or rockets, but it gets repetitive very quickly. There are a lot of enemy types throughout each mission, but you’ll see a lot of copy & pasted baddies often, with little to no variation in how they attack you.
Running into new enemies usually involves a boss fight sometime after, but occasionally a new kind of bug or alien will appear during a mission and make you change up your strategy. But even then that mostly involves destroying something specific or surviving an incoming horde of enemies. Boss fights can be very grand in scale, with some fights including multiple enemy types and even objects far in the background of the area. However, not every boss fight is a winner, especially when it can be vague what you need to attack or where you need to go. The designs of the giant bugs and alien ships in these fights are great, but the battles themselves could be a real bummer.
Moving around the large maps you visit is good at first, but quickly becomes difficult as more enemies appear. Even as you kill bugs around you, their carcasses can block your movement. This makes for some frustrating moments against big groups that overtake you, making it hard to recover from being knocked down or evade incoming attacks as you fight. This becomes really bad when bosses have smaller enemies accompany them and block your movement in the area, leading to a few deaths that feel a bit cheap. On the other side of this are missions where you have to traverse a lot of ground in large empty areas, which can get very boring.
You don’t move very fast when on foot, even if you dash forward with your stamina to evade attacks. There are some instances where you can get into a vehicle and drive around, including times when you can attack enemies at the same time, but these are short-lived and can be destroyed if you aren’t careful. There’s no way to respawn a vehicle if it gets destroyed, so you’ll have to continue the mission on foot, which can be very drawn out and boring.
If you’re tired of fighting giant bugs solo, then multiplayer can spice things up a bit. The campaign can be played with another player in split-screen local co-op, as well as online with up to six players joining the fight with you. Everyone can customize their load outs with different weapons and work together on various missions that you unlock. This is great if you want to tackle similar missions you’ve played alone with others, but not much is different here. The other multiplayer mode that is more interesting is the Mercenary PVP mode. Two teams kill hordes of enemies and gather the resources dropped by them to score points within the time limit.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get a full game going when there aren’t many people online playing it. When it works, it can be fun for the time you’re playing, but disconnections and latency issues could impact the quality of the matches you have. Most people might choose to play the co-op multiplayer more than the competitive mode, so PVP might not always be exciting here.
Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain has new things fans of the EDF series will appreciate, but it might not have enough for newcomers to fully jump on board. The repetitiveness of the missions might turn some players off when it becomes monotonous, despite having a large number that is also playable with co-op. The visuals are pretty wild with crazy amounts of bugs swarming, making for some truly uncomfortable moments for those with a fear of bugs. Beyond that, however, is a game that could’ve been better if a few things were adjusted.
This review was based on a digital review code for Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain for the PlayStation 4, provided by D3 Publisher.