Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain Game Poster Image
Fun, frantic B-movie shooter series gets a polished reboot.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

There are themes of teamwork, both from AI squadmates and when working with other players in the split-screen or online multiplayer modes. Gamers also attempt to rescue other humans which might be caught in the path of the invading swarms, but generally focus on shooting anything that moves and causing mass destruction.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although just a blank slate, new character customization options let players build a more personal version of their hero. That character is also standing as the last line of defense against the alien invasion, charging into battle against overwhelming odds to save the planet and help those in need.

Ease of Play

The game is a run-and-gun arcade style shooter with generally basic controls. While the universal compatibility of weapons is a welcome addition to the series, each PA-Gear still have its own strengths, weaknesses, and specific quirks that take a lot of practice to use effectively. The overwhelming numbers and sheer size of enemies also adds to the overall difficulty.


Violence is constant, with lots of bullets, missiles, lasers, etc., constantly raining down. There’s no shortage of creatures dying in big explosions of body parts, blood, and alien/insect goo. Although the subject matter is still over-the-top, the art style is much more realistic than previous Earth Defense Force games.


The player customization features a number of suggestive options, regardless of gender. Players can create bare-chested male heroes, busty female heroes with an abundance of cleavage, and just about anything else they can imagine.


Although the main game’s dialogue is relatively tame, the online multiplayer has the potential to open players up to offensive language from other people via online party chat.


The game is a pseudo-reboot for the Earth Defense Force franchise, which has garnered more than its share of a cult classic following, spanning multiple games and spinoffs. The game also features support for optional additional downloadable content, available for purchase.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is a downloadable action shooter game available for PlayStation 4. The game's a reboot/spinoff of the Earth Defense Force franchise, taking the over-the-top action and presenting it in a more realistic art style. Violence is constant, with players using an arsenal of both realistic and science fiction weapons to fend off a variety of invaders, from oversized insects to robots to giant monsters and aliens. There's a substantial amount of blood and gore, though much of it is alien in nature, and is more "goo" than "gore." The game introduces a detailed character editor tool that allows players to create and customize their hero’s look and outfit. There are some suggestive elements available to players, regardless of gender. While the in-game dialogue is relatively tame, players may still get exposed to offensive conversations with other players via online party chat.

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What's it about?

In EARTH DEFENSE FORCE: IRON RAIN, humanity is on the brink of extinction. It all began with the arrival of the “Aggressors”, an alien race that appeared suddenly in the skies above Earth, sending giant insect-like creatures to decimate the population. Humans fought back, forming the Earth Defense Force, the first and last line of defense to push back the alien invaders. Eventually, the EDF seemingly defeated the Aggressors, but the cost was high. Not only were the EDF forces annihilated, but the Aggressor technology continued to run rampant. Massive bugs and other strange mutated creatures bred and eventually took over. It’s been a rough seven years for the world since the day of the Aggressor defeat, and since the day you fell into a coma during that final battle. Now, awakening in a world you thought you'd finally won back, you’re called into action yet again. Donning your PA-Gear exosuit once more, you’ll head out into frontlines of battle and fight to reclaim what’s left of the planet, proving that humanity won't go down without a fight.

Is it any good?

While this franchise loved being quirky, cheesy, and unpolished, this installment wraps the over the top B-movie action into a more realistic, dramatic package. Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is like one of those late night, low budget popcorn flicks re-imagined and rebooted with bug budget directing and theatrical effects.  The result is an intense arcade shooter that’s an adrenaline-fueled roller coaster, serving as both a great jumping on point for newcomers as well as a fresh but still familiar feeling for longtime fans.

One of the first big changes in Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is its deep and detailed character creation suite. This should come as no surprise, since developer Yuke’s has long been known for its similar creation tools in various WWE and UFC games. This gives players a sense of both creative freedom and personal attachment to the character. Another major, and equally welcome, change comes in how the game handles players’ weapon loadouts. Previously, certain weapons could only be used by certain classes. This time around though, any weapon you find can be used on any class of character. This opens up a slew of new potential strategies and combinations to best deal with the swarms of invaders. The game’s controls feel more fluid than before too, although there are still some issues with things like the camera angles and getting overwhelmed by enemies that can be disorienting, making it difficult to keep up with the onscreen action. And there’s still some issues with repetition, because there’s not a lot of diversity between the missions. Despite this, Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is an absolute blast to play, especially when shared with friends in either split-screen or online co-op. The game might mark a new stylistic direction for the franchise, but underneath, it’s still the same frantic fun that EDF is known for.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain affected by the over-the-top, sci-fi based violence against insects and aliens. Would it be intensified if you committed the same violence against human enemies?

  • How do character creation tools help to add a more personal element to the gaming experience? How can these tools help spark more creativity with players?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi action

Themes & Topics

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