Gaming

Earth Defense Force 5: Entertaining alien-invasion shooter

The year is 2022 and Earth is under attack from aliens. You are a civilian visitor at a military base that is invaded unexpectedly by monstrous life forms. As you and others fight your way to safety, you prove your worth and are recruited to become part of the Earth Defense Force.

The premise of Earth Defense Force 5 - available only on PS4 - will be familiar and pleasing to fans of the long-running shooter game series, which debuted in 2003 as a compilation of budget titles and has been released on various gaming platforms over the years.

Missions can be played offline, online with three other players or in split-screen mode with one player. You can switch among four classes - ranger, wing diver, air raider and fencer - with each class possessing unique weapons and capabilities. Completing missions will unlock random enhancements and arsenal for the classes. Apart from gaining new types of ordnance, you can also unlock various modes of transport.

There are more than 100 missions to conquer over five difficulty levels, so players may have to vary their strategies and approaches as they progress. The lower difficulty stages are more forgiving while the higher difficulty stages offer better rewards.

There are 13 types of encounters, from colonies of insects such as red ants, spiders, beetles and wasps, to creatures like humanoid frogs, spacesuit aliens and towering monsters. The extraterrestrial life forms are teleported through giant pylons and from ominous-looking spaceships.

Your radar will show up any threats as red blips, which will grow quickly if left unchecked. Downed entities tend to drop crates that boost your health, armour or weapon. You achieve success on clearing desired goals, though the fight carries over to the next episode. You have to be vigilant or you may be outnumbered if you are complacent.

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: From S$79.90 (PS4 only)

    GENRE: Third-person action shooter


    RATING

    7/10

The game runs without stutter even as the battlefield becomes crowded on screen. Developer Sandlot is known for prioritising game performance over everything else, which is probably why the visuals appear scaled down. While the graphics look sharp and have improved over the years, this aspect is not a strong feature of the franchise.

Dedication is key to becoming proficient here, as players will be doing plenty of weapon farming, grinding and levelling up.

On the plus side, the limited options to personalise your character's outfit colours as well as animate your character - in the way it communicates, screams, sings, poses and more - help keep things fresh. There are also interesting vehicle liveries that can be purchased online to make your tanks and transport look unique.

For me, the simple shoot-all-you-can mechanics, cheesy dialogue and bite-sized missions make for decent entertainment at the end of a long day. I wish there are subtitles though, so that I do not have to turn up the volume to enjoy the audio.

• Verdict: Earth Defense Force 5 is an entertaining shooter with a fun premise that harkens back to classic alien invasion movies.

• Nizam Mohd is a freelance writer

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2019, with the headline 'Entertaining alien-invasion shooter'. Print Edition | Subscribe