You are an elite solider, commander of an elite squad trained to defend the Earth from all that would seek to harm it, or its’ citizens. You are Lighting Alpha and Strike Force Lighting is your team. You must use all your skill to defend the city of New Detroit for a full-scale alien invasion that is using advance robotics and genetically modified terrestrial insects to wage war against mankind.
If this reads sort of like a description for a B-movie about soldiers fighting off giant insects, well there’s a reason for that. Earth Defense Force; Insect Armageddon is the pinnacle of B-video games; cheesy plot lines, cheesier dialogue and visuals that are not quite A-game material. You play as Lighting Alpha, squad leader of a three-member strike team charged with repelling alien invaders using any means necessary. You will survive attacks from huge hoards of giant, ravenous insects, single handedly destroy advanced robots that are as large as a small skyscraper and take down whole massive troop carries floating above the city. It is a little over the top.
There are four armor load-outs you can pick from, including: The highly mobile but vulnerable Jet Armor, the tough but slow Battle Armor, the Tactical Armor which functions more of a support role and of course the Trooper Armor, the standard mid-range, highly versatile armor type. All the armors can be upgraded and 300 weapons unlocked through pick-ups and purchased upgrades. I found myself sticking with the Trooper Armor after having tried them all, but Jet Armor was my second favorite. Tactial is probably better suited for co-op and Battle was just too slow for my taste.
Visually the game is an upgrade from its’ predecessor, Earth Defense Force 2017, but is still lacking behind other current titles. The less than impressive graphics are accompanied by sometimes-odd physics (and collision detection) that results in the giant insects sort of bouncing around the map, walking through buildings, etc. There is also little variance in the environments you are fighting in and most objects seem to have two states: mint condition and destroyed (lob a couple of rockets at most buildings and they will come down). Everything is done in the third person which works, but of course also means you will constantly be viewing your character’s less than impressive animations.
Insect Armageddon plays like you would expect an arcade shooter to play. There are pick-ups, hordes of enemies and unlimited amo supplies. Death is typically a mere inconvenience, assuming a squad mate can revive you before they die themselves, and the whole thing moves along quite briskly. There aren’t really any cut-scenes or major story/character development either; the game is about killing bugs dead. That’s it, and honestly that is all that is needed (Although there are some genuinely funny moments when “Ops” is arguing with “Intelligence” which sometimes give advice like, “Shoot them a bunch and avoid being hit”).
Overall the game is fairly simple, and despite the upgrades and insane amount of weapons there isn’t much depth. There is a total of 15 missions that all consist of more or less moving to an area, clearing out the bugs, moving to another area and doing the same. Vehicles, such as tanks and armored mechs are added now and then to spice things up (playing in the vehicles isn’t perfect, but it is certainly fun.), as are various turrets and other EDF forces that typically just serve as cannon fodder but make the game seem “bigger”. Insect Armageddon is one of those games where you have encountered most types of enemies within the first couple of levels; it is simply the number and type that vary from them on.
Insect enemies, titled Ravagers, consist mostly of ants, spiders, ticks, and an occasional wasp with robotic flying gunships capping off the basic enemy types. All insects, except ticks, also have a “metal” variant that is stronger and of course shinier. The game starts with nothing but regular ants, adds spiders and ticks, and eventually starts throwing various amounts of all enemies at you to increase difficulty. Also on the list of baddies are the various bosses, including the Daddy Long Legs, a giant oversized spider, small Hectors (which are still bigger than most buildings) and big Hectors (which are really, really big), giant Praying Mantis Hector/robot bug things and bomb spiders which are also oversized and spawn ticks en mass. Also destroyable but not really “bosses” in the same way are the giant carriers that typically deploy gunships. None of these are particularly difficult; they simply take forever to take down.
EDF Insect Armageddon also features a split-screen co-op mode, or an online mode where you can play through the campaign missions together. It also has a “survival mode” where up to six troopers fight off never ending waves of insects. The co-op function makes the true core of the game much more appealing; Insect Armageddon isn’t about a campaign story, it is about upgrades and unlocking everything. The main campaign takes only a few hours to beat, but the time that it will take to upgrade your soldier to the point that you have finally unlocked everything is probably far closer to 30 hours. Earth Defense Force’s strongest appeal would probably be as a co-op night with friends or as something you can pop in at any time, kills a fill hundred insects and then go back to whatever you have to do. It walks a fine line between being a game for casual gamers and hardcore gamers alike.
Forgiving the game’s lack of variety and depth is hard to do, but he experience, while simple, is certainly gratifying. Insect Armageddon won’t be winning any game of the year awards, certainly doesn’t have the best graphics or game play, but the overall experience is enjoyable and most importantly fun. It does help that the game was released as a budget title, topping out at $39.99, making the whole thing easier to swallow. If you find that this particular flavor suites you, than you could spend countless hours working your way through the game and all the various armor upgrades available. If you are easily bored than this may be best suited as a rental or a bargain pick-up, but still worth a play.
Final Rating: 7.5/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360
Time to completion: Main campaign on normal, 6 hours. Far from “complete” though.
Gamer Score Earned: 235/1000
Price Bought at: N/A – Redbox Rental
Current Price: $39.99 (Amazon)
Recommend Purchase Price: It has already dipped to $20 once on Amazon, that’s a solid price for picking this up.