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Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon review

Great
AT A GLANCE
  • The low introductory price
  • So many awesome classes, weapons and upgrades
  • Online Co-op is beautiful, Survival is absurd
  • Monotony
  • Can punish experimentation
  • Being too serious to enjoy an amazingly stupid game

God, Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon totally would’ve gotten a 10, if only it were a better game… Does that make any sense? No, it’s not my first time reviewing. It’s just that, on sheer awesome principle, Earth Defense Force is exactly what I want out of a shooter. For me, it’s a sublime, damn near perfect interactive experience. However, it’d be ridiculously ballsy to score it up to the echelons of a Gears of War 2 or Halo 3.

To give you a little background, Earth Defense Force is a cult, blatantly Japanese series of bug-killin’, budget-priced beauty. Insect Armageddon is the direct sequel to EDF: 2017, the first title of four EDF games to ever see a stateside release, and has since become a high-cost rarity as Westerners eventually caught on to B-grade charm after the publisher had given up on the title.


Not that that really matters. There’s no story to speak of, let alone continue. More importantly, just like 2017, Insect Armageddon delivers everything it sets out to do. Thing is, it doesn’t set out to do all that much. Kill waves and waves (and WAVES!) of a handful of mutant insect variants with infinite ammo, get to a checkpoint, blissfully repeat. Some may call it monotonous; I call it one of the most satisfying experiences available on PS360.

Visually, Insect Armageddon is certainly an improvement over its predecessors, although it noticeably, often hilariously, lacks the flare and polish of a Halo or a Call of Duty. Tons of clipping, enemies occasionally get stuck in environments, and you’re basically doing the same thing, in virtually the same place, over and over. Yet, to EDF’s credit, the framerate rarely flinches when displaying an impossible amount of mutantoid bugs and towering alien cyborgs on screen, the load times are whip-tight, and since it lacks the modern pretense of story or cutscenes, players are essentially getting more of the carnage they desire, pound for pound, delivered faster and more efficiently than most games that have come out in 2011.

Speaking as someone bored to death with shooters that pad themselves with overwrought narratives and surface-level immersion elements, I fell batshit in love with Insect Armageddon’s mountainous ton of relentlessly dumb fun once again, plus the enhancements brought to the sequel make it all the better. As you play, you’ll unlock new tiers of weapons and upgrades, and now the game’s introduced distinct character classes in order to suit the style of the modern players.

The classic Trooper is still the best all-around class, and the others come with unique abilities, as long as you’re okay with sacrificing the traditional EDF aspects. Assuming you’re willing to act in a more supporting role, The Tactical class allows you to lay mines and spawn turrets, while Jet Armor is every bit as awesome as you’d expect from a class gifted with jetpack-enabled flight, although he’s significantly weaker. I went with the turtle-paced Battle class, since he’s stronger, more powerful and can fire through a defensive shield that can eventually be modified with battlefield clearing lightning upgrades. Again, awesome.

Playing as the dutiful reviewer, I had fun playing with all the classes, although it came with a bit of a drawback. Jumping into later levels in the campaign with unleveled characters left me ill-equipped, and lacking the unlocked weapons very necessary to taking on the rapidly escalating onslaughts. I’d imagine this is where the Insect Armageddon’s exquisite online co-op would come in handy, for reasons that, for some, might be even better than being a mode of play that EDF’s criminally overlook up until now. You not only get to replay beaten levels in the campaign with up to three friends (in addition to a six player survival mode,) hopping on with a buddy who’s upgraded further than you can make the more problematic missions a walk in the park. And you get to unlock more abilities, weapons and tiers all the while, which you can then take into the single player later.

Even playing solo, co-op bots can revive you to full health if you’re killed, and that’s awesome, but it sometimes sucks to feel like you’re being brutally penalized simply by experimenting with classes and not replaying missions to earn the necessary upgrades tiers. As much as I’d like to say the missions offer the replayability of Left 4 Dead, Insect Armageddon’s missions don’t offer much of anything resembling variety, and levels only distinguish themselves by what enemies and mountable mechs pop up, where, and how many.

Without a more substantial degree variation, many will find IA lacking in content, and outside of online support, the only thing to shake up the formula is an unlockable “Remixed” campaign that throws tougher enemies at you sooner. That was enough for me personally, so my biggest complaint with the entire game was the active time reloads. Reader please, I’m the master of smacking the clip back in on time in games like Gears, yet I could never get the hang of it here, with any of the weapons which number in the dozens.

EDF: Insect Armageddon is a flaming hot 10 out of 10 in my heart, but I can pretend that its minimalistic approach, polish and variety, will suit the tastes of every shooter fan out there. Yeah, it’s launching at a budget price, but prices of games go down, quality does not, so I can’t really factor in the launch day value. It’s hard to justify scoring with my gut when you can currently get so many games GamesRadar has branded with a 10 for less than Insect Armageddon, ya know? Curse this professionalism of mine! And damned if this isn’t one of those situations where I wish we rated on a 20 point scale so I could knock this personal gem a little closer to a 9!

Look: Dozens of purported Triple A titles essentially break down to repeatedly shooting shit anyway, with their high budgets expended on crescendo moments, gloss, celebrity voice acting and elongated cutscenes. At least EDF is honest about what it is, and delivers the same thrills and more often at a significantly lower price. To put it sweetly - and with a delicious culinary metaphor! - Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is all cake and no icing. As long you’re prepared to handle that, this could be the best $40 you’ll ever spend.

Jul 12, 2011

More Info

Release date: Jul 01 2011 - PS3, Xbox 360 (US)
Jul 01 2011 - PS3, Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Genre: Shooter
Published by: D3Publisher of America
Developed by: Vicious Cycle
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Animated Blood, Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Mild Language

34 comments

  • Darkhawk - August 13, 2011 5:10 a.m.

    I love how the ad for EDF (on this site, no less) says "A 10/10 - Gamesradar"
  • Zepaw - August 9, 2011 2:38 a.m.

    I love that the EDF ads are quoting your 10 of 10 in your heart.
  • IceBlueKirby - July 15, 2011 8:16 p.m.

    I like games that let you just kill the shit out of things with no restraint and don't try to bog you down with plots and other unnecessary things, so this is definitely something I'll have to check out. I passed up the first one because I didn't really know enough about it, but this review tells me everything I need to know going into this game.
  • Spybreak8 - July 15, 2011 1:52 a.m.

    Hehe yeah I just got done playing Red Faction Guerrilla so haha EDF makes me smirk every time I read it.
  • HarryBalls - July 14, 2011 5:21 p.m.

    Minor correction on the review: "Kill waves and waves (and WAVES!) of a handful of mutant insect variants with infinite ammo, get to a checkpoint, blissfully repeat. Some may call it monotonous; I call it one of the most satisfying experiences available on PS360." There are no checkpoints. You die and you restart the whole darn mission.
  • Yeager1122 - July 14, 2011 5:14 a.m.

    Nice review might pick it up in a couple of months.
  • radcliff007 - July 13, 2011 9:56 p.m.

    i've had this on pre-order for months....can't wait!!! arrgg
  • Axcleblade - July 13, 2011 7:50 p.m.

    Damn it. I want this but I still haven't gotten inFAMOUS 2 and there's a list of DLC purchases I need to make. Ill get it if I can convince a friend to get it too. I'd normally wait until summer when there aren't any games coming out but its July :/
  • Baron164 - July 13, 2011 7:02 p.m.

    I loved 2017 and I'm looking forward to picking this up.
  • GamesRadarChrisAntista - July 13, 2011 3:39 p.m.

    Alls I'm sayin' is... I finished the campaign, played some online co-op, FELL IN LOVE WITH SURVIVAL MODE, wrote the review, and went home and played through the campaign again in online co-op. I've reviewed a lot of games, almost NEVER have I felt the urge to immediately play through again. EDF=10!
  • Gahmah - July 13, 2011 12:56 p.m.

    been playing it since it came out, still prefer 2017, so much more weapons so fast, and much better bosses, well their were bosses for one. hell the levels were more varied even.
  • Crypto140 - July 13, 2011 11:53 a.m.

    This game is definitly not as a good as Halo Reach. It's way better.
  • taterboob - July 13, 2011 9:06 a.m.

    I bought the last one way back when and, I don't know, I just couldn't get into it. To each their own, I guess.
  • kingsmikefan - July 13, 2011 5:37 a.m.

    Wow, no reviewer I know of details their review process in their review like this. I get that you loved it despite its flaws, but I'm glad you stuck with your brain.
  • foxyexplosion - July 13, 2011 4:29 a.m.

    I only use jetpacks.
  • 510BrotherPanda - July 13, 2011 4:25 a.m.

    No joke: I think those big ants look pretty cool. Nice review, Mr. Christopher!
  • ObliqueZombie - July 13, 2011 3:53 a.m.

    Honestly, when this goes down, I KNOW I'll get it. But I just was SOOO many things to look forward too, and I'll put this game on the back-burner if some friends and I need something to play and we have a little cash to spend. Great review, and you're a damned hero suppressing your true emotions for the sake of others. :')
  • usmovers_02 - July 13, 2011 3:10 a.m.

    Having played over 100 hours of 2017 and a bit (maybe 4-8 hours) of IA, I believe that this game is almost as good as 2017 and better in many respects. Here's my mini review: Graphics: This is no Crysis, but it's WAY better looking than 2017. But this isn't necessarily a good thing. Better graphics mean slightly less enemies on screen, no real time damage physics on live enemies, and no crazy "LOOK HOW FAR ALL THOSE ANTS WENT FLYING" physics when they die. The world is quite a bit more detailed though. There's a lot of vehicles scattered everywhere that damage anything nearby when they explode and buildings look MUCH better when they come down. Also, the bugs look great even relatively close and are well animated when walking on flat surfaces. Enemies: They're pretty much the same as 2017. Ants, stronger ants, large and small hectors (robots), and spiders all make a return. The stronger gunships (I believe) are gone but ticks take their place as well as wasps. Also, the boss fights seem much more diverse though the giant "Godzilla" bosses are gone. Weapons: I've hardly unlocked any. My opinion here is completely moot. However, the few I have unlocked just feel better than 2017's. I'm not saying they're more powerful, just that they are easier to use. The missile launchers for an instance. In 2017 they locked on to the closest enemy even if you were targeting something else completely. In IA they lock on to whatever you're aiming at including bosses and mother ships. Also, the special abilities such as turrets and land mines are easy to use but not overpowered. Plus, you can now reload!! What a revolutionary feature, huh? As someone who loved 2017's weapon system, so far I'm completely happy with this one. The vehicles you get so far seem pretty awesome. I've only used the stationary turrets, tank, and mech but so far they're far more useful than in 2017. I haven't encountered the air bike (or whatever it was called) or helicopter yet. Story: Wait... there's a story? Lol. Another thing I loved about 2017 was it's Japanese b-movie charm. That's not missing at ALL in IA. It's pretty much the same cheesy story but with a more western feel. Your squad mates (who are INSANELY helpful against enemies and can heal you). I didn't think it was possible, but the one liners your mates throw out are actually better than in 2017. The voice acting is better than in 2017, but still maintains it's b-movie cheese factor. They don't sound like they're reading the script for the first time like in 2017, but they also don't sound like they're taking the role TOO seriously. Multiplayer: Everything an EDF fan could ask for and more. Split screen was brought back after overwhelming demand (it originally wasn't gonna make the cut) plus online co-op for 3 players on the campaign and 6 in survival mode. Survival mode is cool but it would have been way better if you could use more than just soldier class. Final score compared to other games (in which case I'd give 2017 a 6.5/10): 8/10. The game is no looker but it does for shooters what Burnout did for racers. It boils the genera down to the basics and leaves only whats fun. It has it's share of glitches and even crashes occasionally but nothing game breaking. If you've never played an EDF game, this is an excellent starting point. It improves upon all major issues in past games. After playing this, give 2017 a shot and you'll likely be as hooked as everybody else. Final score compared to EDF: 2017 (in which case I'd give 2017 an solid 10/10. One of the greatest games ever, IMO): 9.5/10. It gives EDF fans ALMOST everything they could ask for. The jet pack makes a return, the gameplay is as hectic as ever, the charm remains, and co-op is even better than before. I wish they didn't sacrifice the INSANE on screen enemy counts from 2017 for better graphics. Explosions for hectors have been reduced quite a bit from the two staged nuclear bombs they were in 2017. But even with all these negatives, shooting bugs and robots remains as rewarding as ever. If you're like me and played 2017 to death (100 hours and I still haven't beaten every difficulty level) but were nervous that much of the charm that makes 2017 awesome is missing in IA, put those worries to rest. IA completely captures every bit of what made 2017 great. It's not a perfect sequel, but it improves in so many areas you'd be cheating yourself if you didn't buy it.
  • mockraven - July 13, 2011 2:38 a.m.

    @erreip199 and WhiteCoco -- Yes, there's split-screen co-op! I've been playing this one with my husband over the weekend. I'm so terrible at shooters, but there's a class for everyone and it's a lot of fun! The "Ops" lady has the worst voice acting but it's so bad it's just funny. The gameplay itself is basically a slaughter fest while trying not to get slaughtered. Giant bugs sending cars flying at your face are scary but a lot of fun to kill. I'm glad this game got an 8 because it's a lot of fun even if it's lacking in story, and some of the more complex stuff other games have. Plus, destructible environments are just fun to flatten.
  • WhiteCoco - July 13, 2011 1:55 a.m.

    If there's split screen co-op, I'll buy it tomorrow.

Showing 1-20 of 34 comments

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