The Earth Defense Force franchise has always had a special place in gaming as being one of the few shooters that is so absurd that even though they may not be the most technically sound games around, the ridiculous nature and fun of simply blasting away at giant bugs, aliens, and other manners of things have outweighed the negatives. This has led to many fans always recognizing the EDF! EDF! chant but despite the campy nature of the franchise, the realistic giant bugs and occasionally challenging combat have been a bit rough for some. As such Earth Defense Force: World Brothers takes a bit of a different approach by featuring a more approachable voxel-based art style and gameplay far more accessible to newcomers.
In a parallel world the cube shaped Earth has managed to fend off many invaders through the years thanks to the Earth Defense Force but the latest theat has proven to great to overcome. The newest threat is Dark Tyrant, an unknown being that has led six motherships to Earth filled with all of the enemies that the EDF have defeated in the past and have shattered the planet into pieces, separating the once brave fighters from one another. It is up to the player, as the Commander, to bring the EDF back together along with any other civilians willing to take up arms to bring the fight back against the motherships and hopefully restore the Earth to its normal cubed self.
The Earth Defense Force series has only dabbled in being serious and even then it usually features plenty of cheesy content at the same time but World Brothers takes any hint of drama and tosses it out the window as it instead focuses entirely on being more about light-hearted fun set against an apocalyptic scenario. Players may start their team with members of the usual EDF like a soldier and wing glider but quickly find themselves running with a four-person team with a cowboy, a cheerleader, a standard soldier, and even a milkmaid all wielding different types of weapons to take down the alien threat.
This means that the real charm in this game comes from simply being able to make whatever crazy party you feel like as every level players will find various characters that they can rescue, ranging from civilians from various nations to soldiers from past games in the franchise. The story dialogue itself even focuses more on references to past games and topics such as the local cuisine for the area the players are currently fighting at and more.
That being said, it also means that the in-game banter that the characters have while fighting can grow incredibly repetitive as each character, with there being over a hundred total (counting color variations), only has so many lines of dialogue while fighting and using abilities especially in some of the lengthier stages.
Despite the shift in tone and graphics, Earth Defense Force: World Brothers still retains most of the core gameplay aspects of the franchise as players will take down giant insects, robots, and other manners of creatures in third-person. Unlike previous games, as mentioned earlier, players now will be doing battle with a team of four soldiers at a time with players being able to swap between units on the fly, giving them a chance to continue the battle while other units reload, wait on skill cooldown, or must rescue a potentially captured/downed ally.
Most units in the game will feature a special skill that is unique to them, an ultimate ability that can be unleashed when it is charged enough, and utilize their primary weapon to take down whatever creature is in their sights. Players can unlock additional weapons and upgrade units over time but weapons no longer drop randomly while fighting, as such players can instead focus on rescuing units that will then be unlocked for use, or upgrade an already existing unit if they have been rescued before. This not only reduces the grind for the game but also gives players far more options than before since, not only is the gameplay simpler in nature it is also quite a bit easier than before.
The arsenal players will have available to them thanks to the amount of characters they can unlock is quite extensive and the combinations can be rather unique as well, as players can choose to use multiple flying characters, chaining their abilities together to fly to incredible heights, create multiple turrets with other units to create a complete perimeter of defense and that is only the tip of the iceberg. It is worth noting that some of the characters that players can unlock can be a little… rough when it comes to presentation. Since the characters are based off of a country’s myths or local people, most feel right at home or just tongue-in-cheek nods to a nation while a couple tip-toe over the line a bit to the point that some may take offense so be wary in this regard.
Players will have the option to select from three difficulty modes when beginning a stage and it is worth noting that even on Normal most fights will play out fairly easy, even when taking down the gigantic boss monsters that appear in certain stages. That means that hardcore fans will want to turn the difficulty up a notch from the start while newcomers can start on Normal without worrying about getting overwhelmed or even lower if need be.
WIth the PlayStation versions of the game players will have access to online multiplayer as well as split-screen local co-op allowing for some truly outrageous gameplay. Rather than dividing a four unit team into single units, World Brothers instead allows for players’ teams to enter a battle instead allowing for some real chaos to reign as a result, making for some real great moments even if the game is completely unbalanced when it comes to that many units at a time.
Visuals & Audio
By utilizing a voxel art-style World Brothers manages to not only present itself as a bit more approachable for those afraid of the more realistic bugs of the original games but also gives the development team free reign to make the world as colorful and fun as possible. Players will venture into stages all over the world with obvious monuments and signature locations being present in each area as they battle the alien menace. In fact, thanks to the voxel designs the destruction of the buildings to explosives and shredding of giant bugs looks better than ever.
As far as the voice work is concerned, players will have the option of choosing between the Japanese voice track as well as a freshly recorded English dub. It is worth noting that the English dub does try to insert various accents into most of the national characters’ dialogue so be prepared for that as it once again is rather hit and miss with its representation. The soundtrack is fairly standard for a game such as this though it does aim a bit more simplistic and light compared to the mainline Earth Defense Force games.
Earth Defense Force: World Brothers really doesn’t try to do anything new for the series and instead focuses on the franchises’ strengths by giving fans plenty of great action to enjoy by bringing back numerous fan favorite enemies that they can once again bring down in a game that doesn’t take itself seriously by any means and instead let’s players focus more on their own enjoyment as a result. This does mean that the combat is a bit lacking in depth and some aspects can be a bit repetitive if players don’t keep rotating their characters to keep things fresh, but as a result newcomers will find a game that is easy to access and just as fun even if they have little to no knowledge of the EDF.
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