Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon Review
Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon has lots of explosions and destruction, but not quite enough variety to keep things moving.
Giant ants and spiders play the role of expendable minions, and you frequently have to square off against dozens of these foul beasts at once. Sometimes they pour forth from anthills (which you have to destroy); other times, they erupt randomly from the ground so you don't know where to expect them. However, there are more than just insects on your path to saving the world. Flying saucers are a persistent irritant. UFOs come in two types. There are nimble crafts that rain down fire and require you to gun them down them quickly. And, there are mother ships that unload hundreds of grotesque arachnids until you fill their weak points with your explosive might. Oh, and don't forget about the robots. Playfully called Hectors, they stomp around the cities like they own the place. The smaller model stands dozens of feet above the earth and will happily charge at you when you least expect it. The bigger model is hundreds of feet tall and has devastating eye lasers that can decommission your team in short work. Destroying these attacking enemies is a lot of fun, but the bigger models take a bit too long to take down. You may have to fire at a hovering ship for 10 or more minutes before it finally explodes, and though it's always a thrill to see it plummet to the ground, it does get tedious firing in the air for such a prolonged stretch.
Repetition is one of the frequent issues that haunts this game. Every level sets you loose in expansive cities against a wealth of vile creatures. There's little in the way of variety (either gameplay or visual), and the act of mindlessly firing your gun gets stale after a while. Levels stretch on for 20 minutes or more, and without a checkpoint, it can be devastating when you lose all your progress because a giant foot took out everyone in your party at once. If you try to save the world alone, Insect Armageddon gets boring pretty quickly. You do have two helpful AI allies, at least, and they're smarter than you would imagine. They resurrect you if you should die, are a sure shot against the many enemies, and even do their best rodeo clown impressions to give you a breather. But you can't talk to them, and plowing through these streets isn't nearly as exciting when you have only your own thoughts to keep you company. Things are a lot more interesting when you play with friends. Insect Armageddon is a laughably good time, and cutting through enemies while cracking jokes makes this a relaxing, fun diversion from the typical shooter.
If you do get sucked in (and that's likely if you're playing cooperatively), there's a lot of content. It takes roughly five hours to tear through the 15-level campaign, but that's just with one character on the easiest difficulty. You most likely need to play through all three difficulty settings to gain access to the most powerful guns, and you have to repeat the whole process if you want to see what the other soldiers are packing. And that's only the start of things. Once you finish the game the first time, you open up a campaign remix mode that places you in the same environments with even more enemies. And, once you tire of the campaign, there's Survival mode as well. The levels are smaller in this mode, but you can play with up to five other players in it. Surviving waves of enemies with a gung-ho team of willing fighters is a lot of fun, though sadly, you don't get to import your character from the campaign. Instead, you have a designated character with a limited arsenal. It's disappointing because every other mode is persistent, and you lose access to your favorite guns. It's still entertaining gunning down hordes of enemies, but it's a shame that it doesn't tie in to the rest of the game.
One look at Insect Armageddon makes it clear that it is a budget-priced game. The graphical fidelity is nowhere near what you'd find in other games, and the weak sound effects barely communicate the awesome chaos onscreen. But if you dig deeper, there's a lot to love. Insect Armageddon focuses on delivering huge scale and a lot of fun, and it lives up to those goals admirably. Gunning down insects and robots is a blast, as is laying waste to the many buildings that surround you. There are certainly issues, such as the lack of variety, and playing alone is tiresome, but this game manages to overcome those problems and keep on ticking. Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is another good entry in this ridiculous franchise, and there's lots of enjoyable cooperative content for the reasonable $40 price tag.