I’ve been a fan of the Earth Defense Force series for some time now. I dunno if it’s just their general goofy approach or the fact you can cause so much devastation in a matter of seconds. I mean, even buildings don’t stand a chance.
Still, leave it to D3Publisher to shake things up a little with Iron Rain, a new take on the series from an entirely different developer. Rather than turning to the typical team at Sandlot (as they have for the recent release of Earth Defense Force 5), the publisher instead leaned on Yukes, the team behind the WWE 2K series. The goal was simple: create a more Americanized take on destroying monsters, aliens and bugs from other planets. And it works, to some extent. It just really depends on how much of a challenge you can stomach.
As you begin, you’ll choose from a variety of classes, depending on which way you want to go. Then you’ll be thrown into the heat of battle, starting small with insects crawling everywhere. But then enemy forces become more intricate, including robots, demons and large walkers that require a great deal of firepower to bring down. Over the course of the game, you can unlock goods within the store, via the help of a robot shopkeeper. As you get these items, you’ll stand a greater chance against the opposition. That’s a good thing, because Iron Rain isn’t exactly the most balanced game out there.
There are times where the difficulty can be downright unbearable. One mission has six fireball-flinging demons that continuously bear down on you. Even if you’re taking flight with your soldier, you’re a sitting duck if you don’t get some serious firepower. Fortunately, some vehicles help turn the tide a little easier. And there’s also multiplayer, which is a huge saving grace here. Up to four players can take part in the co-op mayhem, and it’s a good time if you’ve got a group of dedicated soldiers on hand. Local co-op is also available, though the game runs best when it comes to online.
The gameplay for Iron Rain doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, nor does it need to. This is still EDF, and the general rules still apply when it comes to killing all the enemies and surviving to fight another day. It’s all wrapped around a cornball story that’s useless for the most part; but it’s engaging, provided you can get over the repetition and horrendous difficulty spikes. Stick with it, and you just might be rewarded with some real badass weapons.
The visuals definitely take a step forward compared to previous games, with more visceral looking enemies, beautiful city locales and buildings that blow up real nicely. That said, there were times when the camera wasn’t the friendliest, forcing us to scramble to see where certain foes are coming from. The levels may actually be too big in this regard. Audio isn’t quite the same either. The music is good, but not quite on the same set-up as previous EDF adventures. It’s still quite listenable, though. And the dialogue goes for more of a Starship Troopers approach instead of all-out goofy. It’s not bad, and, hey, this is probably the closest thing we’ll get to a game that relates to that series. So if you’re all about bug-killing, enjoy!
Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain has its hang-ups. It can be punishing in some cases, and the design may throw you off in too many situations, compared to older games. But it’s all about the monstrous hunt on each stage for adversaries, and the thrill of bringing them down. The gameplay clicks well enough to work for the most part (again, despite repetition), and there’s something commendable about the game’s co-op features. If you’re looking for a tour-de-force in action, this isn’t it. But if you’re all about laying waste to everything for the sake of saving the earth, Iron Rain should be on your forecast. 3.5/5 Bibles.