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Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon

Score: 75%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: D3
Developer: Vicious Cycle
Media: Download/1
Players: 1; 2 - 6 (Online)
Genre: Action/ Third Person Shooter/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is, at its very core, a "quick fix" kind of game. Its nature isn't at all accommodating towards the kind of gamer that only plays one game at a time until the game in question is finished. It's a mindless, campy shooter that follows very much in the footsteps of its mindless, campy older brother, Earth Defense Force 2017. This is a better game, to be sure, but make no mistake: it is still mindless and campy. For fans of this franchise, that's all you need to hear.

Insect Armageddon isn't really that much of a looker, but it's a good step up from its predecessor. 2017 was all tongue-in-cheek goofiness. Insect Armageddon retains that goofiness, but actually manages to bare its sharp, pointy fangs every now and then. Perhaps this can be attributed to the increase in detail; the giant ants (or Ravagers, whichever you prefer) still look corny as hell, but they look considerably more realistic than they did in the last game. What's more impressive is the destruction. It may be a far cry from the best I've seen in a game, but it's always nice to have the option to effortlessly reduce large buildings to piles of detritus.

Up until Batman: Arkham City came out last year, I always had Nolan North pegged as the single most recognizable voiceover artist in video games. Now, I realize that distinction should go to the gravelly-voiced Steve Blum. He always lends that extra bit of badass to whatever character he's playing, even if said character is as devoid of identity as Lightning Alpha. So the voice acting is okay, even though the lines are not. But that's fine, as this isn't exactly the kind of game you'll remember for taut and intelligent drama. The weak link here is in the subpar sound effects, which don't even come close to matching the carnage you're so obviously unleashing.


Gameplay:

Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon doesn't really feature a campaign so much as a series of combat scenarios. Of course, the game does refer to its main single player component as the Campaign, but in this day and age, that usually denotes the presence of an important storytelling element. And before you ask, yes, that element is something that Insect Armageddon doesn't really bother around with. All you really need to know is that giant insectoid and robotic creatures have staged a Wells-esque invasion of Earth, and as the leader of Lightning Strike Team of the Earth Defense Force, your job is to repel the invasion one giant bug at a time.

So almost all of Insect Armageddon relies on that ever-tired shooter trope: "go here, shoot that." However, what makes this game unique is how it incorporates the necessity of good crowd control skills. This makes the game feel like a third-person shooter with twin-stick shooter sensibilities. And since you're often running away from (seemingly) hundreds of Ravages at once, it's more constantly intense than shooters that pace themselves like movies.

Unfortunately, the breakneck pacing comes with a key disadvantage. The action of Insect Armageddon is so relentless and concentrated (even in the smallest of doses) that I have trouble picturing any kind of gamer who won't burn out on it really quickly.

There are multiplayer modes to partake in, including co-op and the Horde-like Survival Mode. While most everything's more fun with more people involved, Insect Armageddon's lack of depth ensures that the excitement of rolling with friends (as is the case for solo play) remains short-lived. And really, that's the biggest thing Insect Armageddon has going against it. It never elevates itself beyond being a mere diversion, and is comparatively featureless when matched up against other shooters.


Difficulty:

If you're playing solo, Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon initially offers a frustration-free experience that you'll blaze through. However, the game has the tendency to suddenly kick your ass with little to no warning every now and then; often resulting in a one-way trip to the Game Over screen. It really sucks when this happens, because as a whole, missions tend to last quite a long time. Compound that fact with the game's lack of mid-mission checkpoints, and we have a problem.

The troubles nearly evaporate if you bring a few friends along for the ride, mostly thanks to the different soldier classes at your disposal. Some missions are seemingly built for the added mobility of the Jetpack class, while others make use of the Trooper class's versatility or the Heavy's tank-like attributes.


Game Mechanics:

Very little of Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon feels fresh, but as mentioned before, it's not out to innovate. It's out to numb your mind and deliver fast and explosive fun. Luckily, the shooting is solid, and the controls are certainly accessible enough to anyone, even if they haven't played a PC shooter in years. By that, I mean if you're at all familiar with WASD controls, rolling the mouse wheel to select a weapon, and clicking the mouse to fire said weapon, there's literally nothing to be said about the way Insect Armageddon works.

That being said, there's one element that feels grievously out of place in Insect Armageddon: the clumsily shoehorned-in reloading mechanic. It's essentially the Active Reload from Gears of War, only somewhat broken and without the added damage bonus for hitting the sweet spot. Furthermore, it breaks up the pace of the running and gunning and puts more emphasis on the former than the latter. Not a good thing.

The best thing I can say about Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is that it has perhaps the most pure intentions I've seen in a video game. It doesn't suffer from an identity crisis and has no delusions of grandeur. It's big, dumb, loud fun, and proud of it, too. Go in expecting that, and you're golden.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

Minimum System Requirements:



2.0Ghz Dual core CPU (any Core 2 Duo or AMD X2 or better); 512MB Video Card using Shader Model 3 or higher (Performance equivalent to an AMD Radeon 4350 or NVIDIA GeForce 7900); Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista SP1, or Windows 7; 6 GB HD space; RAM: 1GB (XP), 2GB (Vista), 2GB (Windows 7); DirectX: 9.0c
 

Test System:



Intel Core i7 - 2670QM, 2.2GHz, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M, Windows 7 Premium

Related Links:



Microsoft Xbox 360 Trine 2 Microsoft Xbox 360 All Zombies Must Die!

 
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