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Japan Review Check: Earth Defense Force 2025

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Only one game coming out next week in Japan that Westerners care about, but it's one importers are looking forward to:

- Earth Defense Force 2025 (9/8/8/9, 34 out of 40 points): Sandlot's latest known as Earth Defense Forces 4 in Japan and not coming out for a while in the West, wins exuberant if guarded approval from the Famitsu crew.

"The graphics have gotten better," began editor Reona Ebihara, "the giant creatures and cities more realistic, and the battles more frenetic and enjoyable as a result. You're constantly having radio messages stream in, and the overwhelming you-are-there feeling these conjure up is as impressive as always. With more weaponry available, you're also able to fight in a wider variety of ways, which makes things more fun.

"There are a lot of stages," added Morrigan Osada, "but each one takes only a short time to play, letting you whiz through the game pretty quickly. The assorted animations and AI behavior you see, including the panicked allies and civilians after getting captured by the enemy, have all gotten better. There's also a lot more enemy types, including more enormous creatures and large-scale transport craft, adding more strategy to the battles."

The message throughout the reviews appeared to be that this is a great game - but at the same, it's still an Earth Defense Force game, so it's got all the usual problems. "Enemies tend to drop items in a pretty large radius, so it's kind of a pain in the rear to collect them," noted Jigoro Ashida. "The graphics are are a little rough and bland, but still, the game's turn-off-your-brain charm is pretty palpable."

Osada was a little more pointed in her criticism of the graphics: "Considering all the FPSes and third-person shooters we see these days, it's pretty hard to call these visuals 'good' ... but the overwhelming presence your enemies have in the game have an undeniable impact on the gameplay experience."