Grab the bug spray, we’ve got another infestation on our hands. A mere 3 months since the last insect invasion hit our shores, Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain invades Steam today. It’s another one of those, absolutely, with plenty of opportunities to turn thousands of insects, robots and monsters into juicy yellow smears on the side of a mountain. But this time around, EDF wants to be taken a little bit more seriously, painting a more contemporary picture of an extraterrestrial invasion – for better and for worse.
Iron Rain is a significant visual overhaul for a series that’s largely gotten away with looking like an arcade novelty from the early noughties. But despite losing those hard edges and fuzzy textures, EDF is just as concerned as ever with splashing bug juice across the map.
All that modern polish is joined by a desire to be a bit more serious, even if that veneer can be blown off with a sneeze. Iron Rain ditches some of the campier sci-fi trappings for a character-driven plot with echoes of Starship Troopers and Independence Day. Utterly daft, completely ridiculous, but with a little more plot between ant massacres.
Rather than choosing from a lineup of would-be cannon fodder, Iron Rain lets you dress up your own soldier for the first time in the series. You’ve been in a coma since beating the bugs seven years ago – but the bugs are back, and you’re the last of the MacGuffin-powered supersoldiers who can boot them back into orbit. Like this year’s Earth Defense Force 5, there are four classes to kit out your soldier with. This time around, they just happen to take the form of exosuit models rather than anime stereotypes.
Turning down the camp is a strange look for EDF. From looking around, ditching Saturday morning sci-fi trappings seems to have soured long-time fans on Iron Rain. Despite the modern shine, it’s a little duller to look at, the physics a little too heavy. At the very least, though, it’s nice to have an EDF game let me zip about on a jetpack without pushing a pair of panties up to the camera.
Despite going for almost 20 years, only a handful of EDG games have made their way to PC. If you’ve ground every other bug into the dirt, Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain can be picked up on Steam for £37/€40/$48.