Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is a buggy masterclass in third-person shooter fun.
Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is a masterclass in fun, even if the gameplay isn't as well-designed as it should be. Developed by Yuke's and published by D3 Publisher, Iron Rain is a spin-off of the Earth Defense Force franchise and purports itself to be a more serious entry than the rest of the games in its series. If that's true, one can only imagine what sore of inane silliness the core games are filled with, since this supposedly serious title features giant ants, city-stomping robots, and flame-farting cockroaches the size of buses.
In Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain, players create their own character and step into the role of the Closer, a war hero who tragically fell into a coma for seven years after destroying an alien hive which was threatening the city. Unfortunately, the past seven years did not bode well for mankind, and the Closer awakens to a world overrun with gigantic robots, massive ants, and spiders large enough to give even arachnophiles a shivering spine. Throughout 52 missions players must shoot, grenade, blast, and bomb their way through thousands of massive insects, aliens, and rogue humans in order to retake the world.
Graphically, Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain on PC is both behind the times and also commendable. Textures and animations, especially at long distances, leave a lot to be desired, but the sheer amount of enemies on screen and the destructibility of the game's environments can be impressive in a technological sense. While the game does occasionally suffer from frame rate hiccups both during cut-scenes and normal gameplay, the entertainment value found within said areas seem to make these issues into part of the B-movie camp which the entire experience is soaked in, rather than being detrimental to the experience.
Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is silly. It can't help but to be, with the entire plot revolving around ants the size of Volvos versus normal human beings in cheap power armor. Gameplay is experienced from the third-person perspective and players, as the Closer, have access to a variety of weapons and power armor suits with which to battle the alien menace. Defeated enemies drop gems, and those gems are used both to regain player health and to buy new weapons and items for the Closer to utilize in combat.
There is no ammo maximum in Iron Rain, with weapons only limited by their magazine size and reload timers. Things like jet pack fuel and suit power, while also controlled, recharge very quickly. All of these timers can be shortened even further by going into Overdrive mode, which sees players being able to fire, reload, and move at incredible speeds.
Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is not for everyone. Fans of titles like Armored Core, Armorines: Project S.W.A.R.M., and the PS2 classic War of the Monsters will get a lot of enjoyment from Iron Rain's monster-squashing gameplay, but players looking for a more engrossing, less janky experience might be better off looking elsewhere. Iron Rain occupies a niche of gaming which has been vastly overlooked in the past decade, as the push toward high-end graphics and online live services slowly took priority over single-player and in-home multiplayer experiences.
EDF: Iron Rain is what used to be called a "middleware" game. Something not quite AAA, but still made with enough heart and quality that the fun gameplay outweighs any flaws which usually would be detrimental to normal video game experiences. It's an arcade game, a title which is meant to be taken slowly, easily, in ten-to-fifteen minute chunks. Missions are short but frantic, and sometimes even difficult, reminiscent of games from the Nintendo 64 and original PlayStation era. The game even features 2-player split-screen multiplayer for campaign missions, something almost unheard of in today's forced-online landscape.
With over fifty missions, four power armor suits (one which includes an incredibly fun jet pack), giant ants, giant spiders, corny dialog, overly-dramatic cut-scenes, giant cockroaches, unlimited ammo, player customization, and the ability to blow up every building in the mission area, Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain may not be the most well-programmed game on the shelves, but it is one of the most fun, and when compared to some of the greedy, unimaginative titles currently for sale, things which are genuinely, unabashedly fun count for a lot.
Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is available on PlayStation 4 and PC. A Steam code was provided to Screen Rant for the purposes of this review.