Game Review: Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon
Release: July 5th, 2011
Genre: Third-Person Shooter
Developer: Vicious Cycle Software
Available Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: Teen
Website: EDF Official Site
Earth Defense Force 2017 remains my favorite guilty pleasure on the Xbox 360. It provided endless hours of B-movie amusement, and was doubly entertaining with a friend along for the ride. It’s sequel, Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon, keeps the B-movie vibe and the same basic premise – drop you in a city with infinite ammo and big ass bugs to kill, and let you run wild – and despite odd changes from 2017, Insect Armageddon manages (for the most part) to sustain the cheesy charm.
Bugs are invading Earth. You shoot them. That’s it, really. These are not the games you play for story, and the story you get is entirely told from com-link chatter by some disembodied woman’s voice and other side-characters. It’s never really explained why the aliens are back after you defeated the giant spherical mother ship from part one, but, again, it doesn’t really matter.
What does matter is the weapons. Instead of picking up a plethora of uniquely different guns while running around levels like in the first game, Insect Armageddon sees you receiving points at the end of each level to purchase new guns. They aren’t as wildly different anymore, and the purchasing mechanic dampens the fun of picking some awesome but probably terrible in the field rocket launcher because now said rocket launcher costs half of your credits, but the fundamental gunplay remains the same.
And that’s where the fun lies in these games. When it’s just you (and an unlimited supply of ammo) versus four-dozen giant mech spiders, your brain just shuts off for an hour at a time. There’s odd reward to be found in mowing down waves of these beasts, and despite the new monetary mechanic added to the weaponry that seems to be actively trying to stop you from experimenting, getting a crazy new contraption is just as fun this time around. Well, until you discover it hurts the bugs about as much as throwing pebbles at them, but still.
On the downside, the shooting mechanics grow repetitive after just a few hours. Each gun shoots and controls the same way, and even varying character classes this time around fail to ignite a new sense of wonder in the proceedings. Even the guy with the jetpack is kneecapped by having the worst weapons of the bunch. It’s all a weird mishmash of bad design choices that I know 5-years-ago me would have cared less about (just like I did for the dozens of hours I sunk into the original), but can’t overlook now.
But, alas, this isn’t a game that is trying to blind you with bells and whistles; it gives you a handful of choices, throws you into a level, and lets you blow up what you see fit. The story is cheesy as always, but what else do you expect from fiction that has giant bugs fighting with tiny flying saucers? You aren’t supposed to think about it, and if you do, you’re kinda missing the point here. This is a no-brains-allowed five to ten-hour experience. It’s sort of like an anti-Uncharted, with no engaging story, sticky-at-times controls, not a single character with a name you can remember, much less give a damn for, and where you earn an achievement for killing 100 giant ants within the first ten minutes. If that sounds like something you could get into, there are worse things you could spend forty bucks on.
+ The main hook of shooting giant bugs is still as fun as ever
+ While I rather 2017’s search-and-find school of thought, the weaponry here still present an entertaining try-and-fail-and-try-again experience
+ The vehicle controls have had a tremendous overhaul from the previous installment…
– … But for some reason are head-scratchingly absent for most of the game.
– 2017 had 50 levels. Insect Armageddon has 15. “Downgrade” is an understatement.