EDF 4.1 was released on PS3 a while back, but getting a smoothly running version with fast loading times made me quite happy. Playing it by myself on the PC isn't the best experience, but technically, it runs way better than any other versions. I was also pretty happy to see a 'real' EDF on PC after that last one they'd release that was strangely different. Is EDF a perfect game? Not at all, some of its issues turn into fun features and can be entertaining for the beginner, but the core of the game is a bit unbalanced and frustrating in parts, especially if you're playing alone.

The core concept of EDF is that you shoot aliens. Giant insects, robots, flying dragons and the like. Armed with a bunch of weapons, from rocket launchers to chain lightning guns, choosing from one of four classes, you destroy cities trying to shoot ants and other shielded menaces. The class choice is interesting, but I would've preferred for it to be class-less, like the older ones, since now you're getting class-specific weapons and armor upgrades, so you have to play with underpowered characters to get their stuff. There's the jack-of-all-trades Ranger, the heavily armored Fencer that can dual wield weapons, the quick but fragile wing diver, and the air raider, a weird class that's supposed to be there for support but pretty much felt useless while I played it.

At its best, EDF is just an arcade shooter where you mow down wave after wave of enemies, trying to dodge their attacks and hit their weak points, if they have any. Some specific missions will throw more puzzle-esque enemies, like transport ships that need to be shot in specific points when hatches open, or gigantic bosses that will rain death and destruction on you forever, but it's mostly just shooting aliens. After you finish missions, you get armor (increasing your maximum health) and weapons, sometimes new ones, sometimes dupes, depending on what mission you're on and the difficulty (there are five to choose from). I would've enjoyed for the game to tell me which weapons I can obtain from specific missions.

The game's tone is pretty silly, NPCs will talk about random nonsense, and you can sing a song about the EDF deploying. NPCs are actually fairly important because while their damage output isn't super hot, they tank enemy hits a little, and any healing items you take while NPCs are around will heal them as well. You must be careful because there's friendly fire (increasing in intensity as you go up difficulties) so you can kill yourself and your allies.

At it's worst, EDF is a frustrating mess. You can get ragdolled by certain enemies, others will grab you and combo you to death. Certain attacks will almost instantly kill you while stunning you in place. You can lose control of your character for long period of times and die as soon as you get control back. Certain weapons are just no fun to use, and you'll use the same ones even tho they become lacking in power simply because otherwise it'd get boring, some others are just flat-out useless. There are no checkpoints, if you die you lose everything you had gathered from the map and must start over, even if the map lasts 20 minutes and you were at the last one, playing on Easy gives you ridiculous rewards and should only be attempted in order to pass a level. Even playing co-op, reviving your allies halves your health.

But that shouldn't stop you from playing EDF 4.1, it's one of the best in the series and when it works, it's a ton of fun. I've played the whole game once and might continue to try and find more cool weapons, but I already had plenty of hours of enjoyment from this title, which asides from the fairly present - but not insurmountable - frustrations, is a classic in it's own right.


AuthorJérémie Tessier