I think I'd scream the first time I saw an ant the size of a two-story house waddling in my direction. I'd still be pretty perturbed the 10th time, I'd wager, and maybe the 50th time, too. But I like to think that once I'd seen my 500th massive ant — each identical to the last, with blank eyes, rigid legs, and clacky jaws — I'd have conquered at least some of my fear. Enough, anyway, that I wouldn't scream as much as Earth Defense Force 5's soldiers do.
Earth Defense Force 5, announced at this year's Tokyo Game Show, is the latest in a long-running series that stars crack teams of elite soldiers sent to clear out infestations of building-sized bugs, hovering UFOs, and vast space aliens. You'd think, then, that they'd be used to killing huge ants: historically the weakest enemy in the EDF games. But in my experience with EDF 5 on the TGS floor, that certainly wasn't the case.
I would scream the first time I saw a 50-foot ant
"WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!" one of my teammates kept yelping, albeit in Japanese. "It's a giant ant, buddy," I wanted to say. "You can tell by the fact it looks like a regular ant, but really, really big." I could've given him a primer right there: in addition to massive ants, EDF 5 has oversized wasps, spiders, and frogs. These latter foes seem to be a particular threat, using cover and alien weapons to take over Earth. But he was too busy screaming about the ants.
"IT'S COMING TOWARD US!" Yes, my friend, it is, just like the last 400 did. Or at least, it kind of is — I think it's trapped on that doorway, stuck jerking back and forth behind one of its ant-y colleagues. You should know this, soldier man, the EDF games have been great fun, but not the most technically proficient titles on the planet (at least since 2003's Earth Defense Force, released as a budget title in Japan and as Monster Attack in the West).
I've got a rocket launcher right here
"WE NEED HEEEELP!" No, we really don't. I've got two stupidly powerful weapons right here: an assault rifle with 120 bullets in the clip, and a rocket launcher that burns through giant ants like a magnifying glass the size of a city.
"WHAT DO WE DO?!" Probably shoot at it, I guess? Anyway, if you think it's bad now with just a few ants in the way, you wait until the enormous lizard-alien-beast-things turn up. Then we'll probably need some of the EDF's more outlandish weapons, and we may even need to target their limbs to cripple their mobility, a new tactic we've apparently just picked up for EDF 5.
I would say they need to calm down, but it's this kind of campy over-the-top action that's made Earth Defense Force games such cult hits over the past few years. Their English translations have been beautifully weird, too, with the Xbox 360's Earth Defense Force 2017 making screaming soldiers sound like cheerful spelunkers, repeating the phrase "we're on an exciting underground mission!"
There's historically not much to EDF games, beyond blasting wave after wave of insects, arachnids, and frogmechs, and it seems like EDF 5 won't be vastly different. But for the sheer spectacle of a full-scale alien invasion — coupled with the characterful screams of your colleagues — it promises to offer some excellent afternoons of action.
EDF 5 is launching on the PS4 in Japan some time next year; there's currently no word on an English release.