There are some games that defy traditional criticism. By all accounts, the Earth Defense Force series fails on almost every level. The games look like last-gen titles, they are mindless and repetitive and lack any sort of polish when it comes to presentation. Still, for some reason, the most recent entry in the series, Insect Armageddon, is massively appealing and a ton of fun to play. Perhaps it stems from the fact that the developers know the game is what it is and never try to force it to be something that it’s not. Either way, Insect Armageddon throws in a few bells and whistles making it my favorite game in the series so far.
Story? We don’t need no stinking story. Seriously, the game involves the Earth Defense Force as they repel another invasion of giant bugs, this time from America. This means plenty of Call of Duty type conversation and being Oscar Mike. If you are playing the game for its in-depth narrative, you are doing it wrong.
If you have played an EDF game before, you know what to expect. This is a third-person shooter has you mowing down hundreds of thousands of giant insects ranging from ants to spiders to even massive praying mantises. Yeah, it’s cheesy, but it works. The mechanics of the shooting are just good enough to not be frustrating, and on normal, you rarely die unless you are simply careless, as enemies constantly drop health.
The objectives are relatively simple. Most involve moving from point A to point B, obliterating everything in your way. The game does throw in some cool diversions such as turret sequences and even vehicles. It is nothing you haven’t seen before and nothing that will change up the genre, but it remains stupid fun just the same. Ammo is infinite and you can carry two weapons at a time, but only select them before the level starts. Larger enemies drop new items you can purchase using your battle points, but the standard loadout is here: rocket launchers, machine guns and, of course, plenty of boomsticks.
The biggest change to the formula with Insect Armageddon is the introduction of classes. At the outset of each mission, you can pick one of four unique classes that change your style of play. There is the standard grunt, the tank, the jetpack trooper and, my personal favorite, the tactical trooper. Basically, he plays like a grunt, but with the ability to drop a turret down for added firepower. You can level up each class individually, and this works out great when playing the cooperative modes within the game.
The main game is much shorter than the last, consisting of only three chapters with five levels each. You can plow through it in a couple sittings, but there is so much more here to conquer that the length actually didn’t bother me. The three difficulty levels are a nice addition, but collecting weapons is the real reason to grind on. Also, each armor levels up individually and the game is just a riot, so grinding is not necessarily all that painful. Of course, the real draw to replay is playing with friends either online or on the couch.
You can play through the entire campaign with up to two of your buddies online or opt to play the quintessential horde-type mode, Survival, with up to six players. It all boils down to working together to take down endless waves of insects, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a blast when you get a good group of players together. The Achievements/Trophies are also tied to the ridiculous amounts of enemies, offering up plenty of grinding for those of us who enjoy collecting these virtual accomplishments.
Visually, the game is just as generic as everything else. The environments are bland and the textures are lacking, but somehow it fits the game. Buildings come crumbling down after a few good rocket shots, and the screen is constantly littered with slowdown, which is amplified in multiplayer. The voice acting is cheesy, though Steven Blum manages to make his way into another game, and the music feels like it was ripped off of a B-movie soundtrack. In summation, it is exactly like the rest of the game: generically appealing.
Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is one of those games that will only appeal to a certain audience. For those people, I definitely recommend picking this one up. It looks like a budget game, feels like a budget game and is a ton of fun for the price. Stupid, campy and one of my guilty pleasures for the year; I highly recommend anyone with a love for the B-movie sci-fi flicks to check this one out.
Review copy provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.