The Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon Review
By Simon Graves |
Some games have awesome graphics to sell them, others have epic storylines written by a famous author. Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon has neither, and it revels in the fact. Instead of attempting to mask how it's a budget title, Insect Armageddon embraces the stereotype, coming together in an experience that is delightfully cheesy and a lot of fun to play despite its quirks.
Like the last game, Earth Defense Force 2017, Insect Armageddon is a third-person shooter. You take control of a member of the Earth Defense Force, fighting the good fight for humanity against an alien threat known as the Ravagers. You don't know much about them, except that they're set on destroying the earth and it's up to a few lowly humans to turn them into pulp. It's a campy set-up, but it works perfectly to provide a setting where giant ants, spiders, wasps and towering robots are the norm on the battlefield. It also results in some really terribly awesome dialogue between the characters, with one liners and quips that make it obvious Insect Armageddon doesn't take itself or its plot all that seriously.
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It may not have the best graphics or story, but the fun, mindless shooting is where Insect Armageddon shines. Every mission generally has the same objective, with you moving from point to point and fighting absurd enemies until they're all dead. There's something thrilling about fighting hordes of giant enemies over and over. Like a cheesy sci-fi flick, insect Armageddon owns its absurdity, challenging you to use crazy-powerful weapons to overcome odds that are laughably stacked against you. It isn't the sort of game I want all the time, but it's a welcome break to all the far-too-serious shooters out there.
The core gameplay of blasting away hordes of enemies is the same, but the addition of classes mixes things up quite a bit. Before each level you pick a class. Each class can always carry two weapons, but they range in the amount of health and special powers they have. The assault trooper has a large amount of health and a shield, for instance, while the jet trooper has the ability to fly and move fast, but a relatively tiny amount of health. It brings a lot of additional replayability to the levels, and makes cooperative play more fun since you and your friends can further specialize your roles in the fight. The only downside to it, though, is that most weapons in the game are now unlocked with experience rather than through random item drops. Yes, there are some random items in Insect Armageddon, but a big part of the last game's appeal to me was the excitement I got at finding random loot. It's still here, just greatly depreciated.
The campaign is made up of 15 fairly short levels, and can be completed in a day if you're determined. But before you lament, consider the fact that there are three levels of difficulty, and that each class levels up independently of the others as you play. Completing the campaign once also unlocks remixes of the stages, which switch things up just enough with the enemy types to keep it interesting. The grind might sound annoying, and normally I'd agree, but the gameplay is just such pure, mindless fun that I find myself wanting to play through it more than once. Besides, higher difficulties are the only way to unlock even more powerful weapons.
Like most things, Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is better with friends. It doesn't have the local split-screen coop of the console versions, but I don't typically play this way on my PC anyways so I don't really miss it. Additionally, it allows three players to group together online through the entire campaign, as well as play with a team of six in the new Survival Mode. Cranking up the difficulty and overcoming a fight against giant robots and aliens brings people together in a way that few other games I've played can. It's ridiculous enough for no one to take too seriously, and for everyone to just smile and enjoy.
Yes, this is as cool as it looks.
The lack of split-screen might seem like a downer for some people, but one place where the PC version shines is performance. The console versions repeatedly slowed down in the campaign and when playing split-screen or multiplayer, but I experienced next to none of this on the PC. Of course, like any PC game, your mileage may vary, as I'm playing on a i7 system with tons of RAM and an amazing video card. The video options are also slim, and its locked at 30fps, but it looks fine, especially for its budget price.