E3 2011: Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon hands-on preview – campy, over the top action

A budget title that has more to offer than most AAA games

Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is the type of video game that knows it’s a game and revels in it. The game sports a plot similar to that of a B-level action flick – massive insects have begun an invasion of our planet and it’s up to the Earth Defense Force to put a stop to it. Having gotten our hands on this goofy title at E3, it took us no time at all to figure out why developer Vicious Cycle’s previous EDF games have gathered such a loyal cult following. Put simply, the game is fun. Big, stupid, constantly one-upping itself fun.

EDF’s setting is in the ruins of New Detroit. One of the major improvements that players will notice right off the bat is that the graphics look a hell of a lot better than the previous game, Earth Defense Force 2017. The amount of enemies appearing on screen at one time has definitely increased and the insects and EDF forces show a greater level of detail. It’s still not quite AAA quality, but at least it’s a little easier on the eyes this time around.

To combat the threat of massive wasps, gigantic ants and spiders the size of dump trucks, the game has four EDF armor variants for players to choose from: Trooper Armor (a class that has the highest damage output), Jet Armor (they can fly…this class rocks), Tactical Armor (support class that can deploy missile turrets, gun turrets, mines, etc) and Battle Armor (most defensive of all the classes). Before each mission, players select their armor variant, their special armor abilities and two weapons. Likewise, every one of these classes utilizes a special meter for their abilities.

A new addition to EDF is the ability to play cooperatively with two other players; however, if you’re a sad husk of a person with no friends (or you just want to go solo), the game will automatically team you up with two AI-controlled teammates. Don’t worry, from what we experienced, the computer was actually somewhat intelligent in this regard. The combat controls were incredibly tight and an in-game radial menu made selecting special abilities in the middle of skirmishes a snap. EDF also features a new quick-reload function identical to the mechanic seen in Gears of War. As we fought through hordes of mammoth insects, the game allotted us with a score that doubled as experience points. The points can be used for all the basic stuff you’d expect such as upgrading abilities, buying new weapons, increasing your special abilities meter, increasing health, etc.

Aside from EDF’s main campaign (which will last up to eight to ten hours), there will also be a horde-like mode where endless waves of enemies will attack your team of EDF soldiers. There will also be a much more interesting game mode called “Remix Mode,” which will spawn random monsters for players to fight.

Like we said, the game is fun. What else can we say? In one instance, EDF pit us against a daddy-long-legs the size of a skyscraper that was giving birth to giant tarantulas. This game sort of rocks.

Jun 14, 2011

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