Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon Hands-On

We lock and load in the latest entry of D3’s bug-tastic action game that packs in great new features.

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When the original Earth Defense Force 2017 shipped for the Xbox 360 in 2007, Western players were finally officially introduced to one of the hidden gems of Japanese game development. While 2017 was the first US release, the series had been going strong since 2003 in Japan as part of D3 Japan’s line of budget PlayStation 2 titles. The third-person shooter cast players as one of two soldiers in a military force dealing with an alien invasion that mixed traditional fare, such as giant robots and flying saucers, with slightly insane stuff, like giant ants, spiders, and Godzilla-like monsters. If it sounds insane, it is, but the series makes it work thanks to a B-movie feel. For the latest entry in the series, the recently announced Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon, D3 is making some surprising choices that should please and possibly shock fans. We had the chance to check in with D3 to try a work-in-progress version of the Xbox 360 game to see how it’s all coming together.

The first and most shocking bit of news about Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is its developer, Vicious Cycle, is of Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard and Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond fame. While this marks the first time development of the series has been handled by a Western developer, D3 pointed out to us that key members of the original team are working with Vicious Cycle to ensure the game is in line with the spirit of the previous entries in the series. Another key element of development to point out is that D3 and Vicious are taking fan feedback to heart for this new entry in the series and including online co-op play for three people. A new competitive online mode will support up to six players, marking the first time an EDF game has online play. The feedback has also led to some changes in the gameplay mechanics and structure. While the core mechanics of running around and blasting bugs remains the same, some of the fine details have changed--probably for the better.

You’ll now have four characters to choose from and each has unique armor. The armor types fall into the basic categories you’d expect: trooper, battle, tactical, and jet. The trooper armor is in line with the classic soldier that’s been in all the games. The battle armor is a slow but heavily armored suit that features powerful weapons, while the tactical armor is nimbler and specializes in laying down turrets. Finally, the jet armor is the spiritual successor to the pale wing character seen in the previous games and features a jetpack and unique energy weapons. The way you’ll earn armor and weapons has changed to a more structured system that has you using credits you earn from destroying enemies to buy weapons and armor in a shop. A subtler tweak can be found in how the game doles out achievements and, now, trophies. Unlike EDF 2017’s six painfully tough achievements, EDF: AI will feature 50 achievements that will be earned for a variety of different actions.

We had the chance to try two levels, 1-2 and 3-1, in three-player online co-op. The 1-2 level dropped us in a city level to deal with massive ants, so clearly the stage had a nice comfortable feel to it. There were buildings, giant ants, and explosions--exactly what you would want out of an Earth Defense Force game. We also heard some snippets of audio from our fellow soldiers as we dove into battle. While there just seemed to be informational sound bites coming out of the boys, we’re hoping Insect Armageddon comes packing some of the zany one-liners we’ve come to expect from the series.

Everything blew up nicely in our play session in the game, which was satisfying. While there wasn’t quite as much chaos onscreen (the game is a work in progress after all), the frame rate was good and stable. The 3-1 level changed things up a bit by tossing more flying enemies, including massive robo-wasps, at us, in addition to the standard contingent of ants. All told, things definitely felt like an EDF game. The new gameplay tweaks, especially the different armor types, had a nice distinctive feel to them that affected our tactics in the levels.

The same comfortable feel extended to the game’s visuals, which, despite using an all-new engine, were in line with the previous games. There’s a lot more nuanced detail in the environment, especially around light and shadow, which reduces the slightly blown-out gamma look seen in 2017. Explosions were suitably satisfying, and the sense of scale--at least in the two levels we played--was close to what we expected. We hope once we see more of the game, we’ll find levels that are set pieces for even more massive enemies than what we’ve seen so far. The best news lies in the game’s frame rate, which stayed good and stable, even with the massive number of critters onscreen.

Based on this early first look, Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is a promising sequel to Earth Defense Force 2017. While we’ll admit to being a little concerned at the developer change, it certainly looks like Vicious Cycle is headed in the right, eccentric direction to capture the flavor of the previous games in the series. From a feature standpoint, the addition of online co-op play is worthy of a fist pump. If you were a fan of the original game or simply enjoy blowing things up with friends online, there should be some very compelling reasons to check out Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon when it ships in the first half of next year. Look for more on the game in the months to come.

Discussion

73 comments
00J
00J

want it.

DAMSOG
DAMSOG

The first game was a "hoot" to play (never finished it on hardcore) but the mindless blasting of giant everythings kept us entertained for hours. The sequal looks better and I hope will retain the "fun" factor that many games are missing these days. EDF EDF EDF!

destinyDemon
destinyDemon

they have announced there is local co-op as well as online co-op with up to 2 other players

psycho325
psycho325

game looks good but the cameraman was horrible... nice close up brahhh.

whfreddy
whfreddy

Hmmm, looks kinda interesting.... Kinda. It does seem as if it would get boring awfully fast, like itchyflop said.

bigdg85
bigdg85

i need to run down to game stop right now and put down a pre-order!

itchyflop
itchyflop

hmmmm.....i dunno how long the fun would last

nparks
nparks

Sounds like they're making some significant changes. Personally, I'd be happy if they just replicated the experience of the first one, with a handful of necessary fixes: 1. Fix the extreme slowdown caused by explosions. 2. Make vehicles actually usable. 3. Don't take away control of the camera in the middle of a fight. 4. Tone down the difficulty of the "Insane" level just a tiny bit (but make "Hardest" harder).

KamikazeCanuck
KamikazeCanuck

EDF 2017 was awesome. Simple but so much fun especially when playing with a friend.

SouL-Tak3R
SouL-Tak3R

This should be an arcade/download game.

dalua360
dalua360

Great scale, but I detected lots of bugs on this game! got it?

DickTwang
DickTwang

improve on the Xbox 1 or ps2 visuals, and we shall see

gmandown
gmandown

this looks like it'll suck but maybe im wrong like red faction was really good and i thought it would suck so i dunno

maximumbarmage
maximumbarmage

Funny, I can recall playing earlier games in the series prioer to the 360 version on my PS2 in English under the names Monster Attack and Global Defense Force(Which was the best of the series to date as it had a lot more variety in it's gameplay than the 360 sequel). Guess they weren't only in Japan after all.

Fallen0nMyHead0
Fallen0nMyHead0

This looks interesting. I might buy it. I doubt it though. I guess we'll see, that's all:)

SLRMC93
SLRMC93

I'm so happy that they made a sequel, I loved the original, it felt like you were on an 80's Japanese monster movie, and I think thats what made it so fun to play.

saiyanspirits
saiyanspirits

Apastron, thanks for the link and I encourage everyone to share their concern about lack of local co op. Below is what I wrote: "Dear VC, In regards to the upcoming Earth Defense Force game, please make best efforts to release with a local co op mode. I'm sure you'll find that this is very important to the gaming community that supported the last incarnation and a huge selling point. It appears that the rumor is there isnt one and there has been great concern among legions of fans if you research the community forums. Thanks for your time, I look forward to playing this locally with my friends:)"

johnny_rotten07
johnny_rotten07

Graphics don't look so good, but this game looks alot like star ship troopers, so i gotta rent this when it comes out

Apastron
Apastron

There isn't going to be an offline co-op mode. Feel free to join me in letting Vicious Cycle know how dismayed you are by this revelation at: http://www.viciouscycleinc.com/contact_us/index.cfm Many of us here seem to have enjoyed the previous incarnations with friends and family in the same room. Don't let them separate us!

Cappuccin0
Cappuccin0

Indeed, female soldiers would be fun. But the thing I'm most concerned about is local co-op. That's what made the previous game great. Online co-op is cool and all, but it doesn't beat couch co-op. My best memories of EDF2017 were having some friends over, grabbing something to bite and laugh it out all night long.

geelw
geelw

Quick correction for the article: The first EDF game only had Storm 1 as its lone hero (that game had 25 missions and had NO spiders at all), while EDF 2 (a whopping 71 missions) had Storm 1 and Pale Wing, a female character with a jet pack and her own energy based weapons. EDF 2017 dropped the mission count to 53 and lost a bunch of the wilder enemy types including centipedes, exploding metal pill bugs, cigar-shaped saucers, two completely different robot types and TWO mothership boss battles (one was an exact repeat of the one in the first game). I'm hoping to see some of those nasties back in EDFIA (or at least variations on some of them). Memo to D3Publisher and VC: it would REALLY be nice to have the choice of a female character skin (bug blasting isn't exclusively an all-male occupation, y'know). g.

TWayne1020
TWayne1020

I hope there is off line co-op !!! There are more people off line than on . All this on line stuff is get people on line to eventually charge you a monthly fee !!! This is all thsee greedy companies future plans, I garrentee you !!!! Besides , if it is so easy for Bungie to have off line co-op , with Halo , why not these other companies ?????????????? If there is not off line co-op , I'll just play the first game !!!!

SDBusDriver1979
SDBusDriver1979

Too bad Sandlot isn't making this but then again if it was them I doubt there would be online coop.

CaptPorkChop
CaptPorkChop

Wait...what movie does this game remind me of?

GM-Lucra
GM-Lucra

I like how the weapons can be purchased now, I loved 2017 but having random weapon drops made it impossible to get the best weapons. I also wonder if there will be bad lag because in 2017 when it got super hectic and crazy with all the bugs and explosions it would slow down immensely. Otherwise as long as it has split-screen I will be happy. Im definitely gonna get my girlfriend to play it Haha.

Phaze2
Phaze2

This better have split screen. Playing co op with a friend and just laughing at all the hilarious shenanigans and chaos going on around you was what made the first so much fun for me.

Ares360
Ares360

May sound weird to hardcore gamers of halo but this game is fun as hell and for $40 for 2017 it was a blast and long. Actually want to play this even more since it has co-op.

Sablicious
Sablicious

No off-line co-op is gonna be a real problem...

styx56
styx56

I just hope the city looks a little better and there is more places to go. It looks a little bit darker than 2017 if you know what I'm saying. Less brightly colored and detailed. For some reason I actually think the game looked better when it looked worse. lol

styx56
styx56

I just hope the city looks a little better and there is more places to go. It looks a little bit darker than 2017 if you know what I'm saying. Less brightly colored and detailed. For some reason I actually think the game looked better when it looked worse. lol

kennythomas26
kennythomas26

you know some parts of this game reminds me of Fracture just a little bit and just with giant bugs and stuff and no terraforming. But that is just my opinion.

Cappuccin0
Cappuccin0

Damn. The two questions I had weren't answered... I wanted to know if the game still has local coop (they've only mentioned the online) and if you can still blow up buildings. That was insanely cool on the previous game. Edit: Watching the video, I could see buildings did in fact get demolished, maybe not as easily. The other question remains unanswered tho.

Penguin_lust
Penguin_lust

I really hope they bring back the air tortoise, that gun was hilarious.

WarPrime
WarPrime

I love love love the first game! I cant wait!

knightman
knightman

man, my wife & i had so much fun with the 1st title.. i so want this 1 to be a solid game..:)

Neo-ganon
Neo-ganon

looks amazing. too bad nintendo fan's wont get a taste of EDF any time soon tho :/ i envy all the 360 and ps3 owners. :/

nini200
nini200

JOE FLETCHER, THIS IS NOT THE ORIGINAL EDF!!! EDF was on Arcade and Super EDF was on SNES. It was even called Earth Defense Force and was made by Jaleco. I don't know how they got the rights to call this the same thing as the other EDF. The first EDF was a side scrolling Gradius/R-Type/Pulstar/Blazing Star like Shooter. Here's the ORIGINAL EDF: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fAn1RROtRM Here's Super EDF: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCRsB6D4A48 Anywho, even though the name thing confuses me, the game does in fact look REALLY fun. I like the concept of the big bugs and turrents and such. It reminds me of Roughnecks/Starship Troppers. I may give this a shot when it comes out.

Payasoplas
Payasoplas

Great example of how gameplay is more important than graphics

Truth_Hurts_U
Truth_Hurts_U

Loved 2017... Good they are adding tons of new stuff... Because I played 2017 4 times over.

SaintJimmmy
SaintJimmmy

Ill be keepin my eye on this one i just don't know how i feel about the whole westernized feel thing.

Darreo
Darreo

Hell YEAH me & my son killed on the 1st one!! Dam insect invaders need another stomping!!!!

guitarist1980
guitarist1980

I am pumped for this game.. I kinda liked the diablo esque loot drops of the last game but i will certainly not argue that it wasnt always convenient running around towards the end to collect them all though. It was very rewarding when you finally did that that crazy gun drop.. man I am so happy there making more of these.