You know that feeling you get when you see an ant on the ground? You suddenly have the urge to take your foot, your hand, or whatever else you can find and crush the little critter. Or if you are anything like my cousin as a kid, you’ll just get the hose and try to drown the whole ant hill! Why do we do it? Maybe it’s in our nature. Maybe we just like the feel. Whatever the reason, people tend to get a sense of satisfaction when they kill some bugs. Well, in Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon you can crush, shoot, and blow up those pests to your heart’s content (and without a protest from PETA either – because insects are people too…… ha!)! But beware, those bugs will fight back and they are BIG. E.D.F. sticks to its roots and doesn’t try to be something it’s not. There’s nothing revolutionary about game-play, the graphics are no Frostbite 2, and the story is rather lackluster. With that said, why would you want to play E.D.F: Insect Armageddon? Because, despite the fact that it lacks all of those things, it is just good-ole fun.
E.D.F. Insect Armageddon offers players a variety of ways to play. There are both offline and online modes. Offline, you can play a single-player game or two player split-screen co-op through the campaign (and campaign remix after the game is beaten), and survival modes. Online you can play with up to six players through the same modes of co-op campaigns and survival. Campaign is split into three chapters which are each split into several sections, coming down to about a total of 15 good-sized levels for the story. In addition you can pick from difficulty levels ranging from Normal, Hard, and Inferno (better level up A LOT first). For survival modes, you can pick from six different maps/locations to fight off waves of enemies and see how long you can last. Before each level you have the option to pick from four different classes – Trooper, Tactical, Jet, and Battle. Each class will present you with a variety of different weapons and opportunities to level up and unlock new weapons. There are dozens upon dozens of weapons and several different weapon types for each class. The fact that there is so much to unlock and level up in the game provides players with a lot of replay opportunities.
The campaign starts you off right in the battle of the bugs. You are part of the elite team fittingly named the Earth Defense Force who has to protect Earth by participating in what turns out to be a pretty futile fight against an alien invasion of the “Ravagers.” Not much is known about the Ravagers except that they are not supposed to be here and they are destroying everything in sight. The story comes off a bit cheesy which I am convinced is a deliberate move which makes it tolerable and even at times, funny. You will hear cheap one-liners throughout the game by your teammates shouting, “EDF! EDF!” or suggesting that you start a business in an area that has been completely demolished. You are helped through your missions with guidance by mission control and “intelligence” which is an ironic title for a moronic guy who is supposed to help you figure out the fight against the Ravagers. The story puts you with your team through crumbling and crawling cityscapes where you have to clear out and do a little reconnaissance or recovery at times. The starts abruptly and ends just the same. If the story was any bit engaging, I would have cared, but it really was not and honestly, that’s okay for this game.
Each level is pretty much the same with the same objectives of neutralizing the threat in those designated areas. The exception to that repetitive style will come by means of traveling through the city and increasing difficulties with challenging new enemies. From time to time you will have the ability of using other weapons and vehicles such as antiaircraft guns, turrets, fully controllable tanks, and riding in EDF aircrafts and manning a gun on the side. The game pits you against what seems to be overwhelming odds. Hundreds, thousands of insects come your way, and you must crush them all or have the fate of being crushed yourself. Luckily, as you progress through the game, your weapons will level up and thus your job will become somewhat easier. And don’t be afraid to go crazy with your weapons. Just about everything is destructible from buildings, to cars, walls, and even trees. At times, leveling the landscape and using the environment can even work to your advantage in fighting off the enemies.
There is something satisfying and exciting (and probably linked to a compulsive behavior that many gamers have) when you are constantly finding yourself in the middle of swarms of enemies and you are throwing everything you have at them. Pretty awesome boss battles help in that matter of setting a stage of almost immeasurable odds to fight against. Usually a game might give you A (singular) boss to fight. Well, Vicious Cycle’s name fits them well, because they figured, “Hey! Why not throw in a couple of bosses for those suckers to fight all at the same time?!” Game controls are pretty easy to handle but you will be challenged quite often with battles against several giant Ravagers at a time. Huge spiders, giant mantis’, drop ships, and more! As each level passes by, the battles get more intense. By the time you get to the last level you might wish that a nuke was one of the weapons you could upgrade to – well, if wishes were horses….
I think one of the modes I spent the most time with was the survival mode and especially online. You could literally spend hours playing just one session of survival. The waves of enemies seem pretty much endless but you never get tired of it. You want more. You want more bugs to kill until finally your whole team is wiped out. The down-side about survival is that you can only pick from one class- that is, the trooper class and not all of your weapons are made available to you. The reasons for this? I couldn’t tell you. It would have been nice to include everything, maybe that will come in the form of DLC. The varied maps are nice to choose from. You can pick from maps that will put you in close quarters with the enemy or wide open maps that will allow you to put a lot of space between you and the foes. Some maps provide areas for cover along with tanks and other weapons, other maps will not provide you with anything at all other than what you came with. It’s a good variety that helps keep the survival mode fresh and addictive.
Of course, I would say that the biggest fun in EDF comes from playing with friends. Whether it’s split screen co-op or online modes, squashing bugs together with friends is much a more enjoyable experience than single player. The great thing about the game is that, no matter if you are playing single player or with friends, EDF saves all of your progress and your upgraded weapons and classes are available and upgradable on both sides.
The single player mode of the game runs pretty smoothly with few hitches in performance and the online side does as well. Finding a game to play online and connect to is fairly easy by selecting a quick match or picking a custom map by stipulating your conditions. While playing the game online there was almost always little to no lag issues. The only thing that did come across as a bit of an inconvenience was online during survival modes, we did run into a few glitches where no more enemies spawned after clearing a wave and you were not moved on to the next wave. Another inconvenience is the fact that a game is also reliant upon the connection of the game’s host. If the host leaves the game, the whole lobby gets kicked and you lose your progress (no matter if you were already 26 waves into the game). Other than those few minor details, the game proved to be a pretty smooth experience all throughout the online and offline experiences.
In addition to the game modes, you can keep track of your progress by means of the “extras” menu option. There you will find all your Amors’ stats with the ranks, experience and how many kills you have made with each armor. When it comes to weapons you can find out the percentage of each weapon type you have unlocked and how many kills with each type while also displaying your favorite weapons (mine are missile launchers and assault rifles). Moving along, each and every one of your kills are tracked down to everything you can kill, blow up, or destroy (including your own teammates and other world objects). If you are a trophy/achievement hunter, there is a nifty little spot where you can track your progress towards your next one. If you are really serious about getting achievements, be prepared to put in A LOT of hours into this game as some require you to kill up to 25,000 enemies of a single kind. Add that to the tens of thousands of enemies of other kinds, and you have a lot of playing to do.
Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is a game that you pretty much get what you expect. No fancy or flashy graphics, no elaborate story, and nothing we haven’t seen in a game before. However, the fun-factor is kept and that’s what will have you enjoying the game. I wonder if more developers focused on this fun factor instead of graphics and other pieces of glitter, would we have more enjoyable games on our hands just for the pure fun experience? Vicious Cycle did a great job in this area and while this is no game of the year contender, I would suggest EDF Insect Armageddon is given a shot for those gamers out there looking for some good old-fashioned fun gaming.
Final Score: 7.5/10