I came across the first Xbox 360 Earth Defense Force game one bored weekend scouring the pre-owned shelves and after playing it I could not understand why anyone would want to part from it, oh well, their loss, as the huge campaign against invading aliens has since had a place in the frequently played pile at home.
When I played Earth Defense Force, it just struck all the right chords, killing giant aliens and bugs is what all computer games should be about and the Japanese B-movie setting was perfect, but sadly even that title may now be relegated as we now have another tale of struggle with the EDF troops taking on the impossible.
The simplistic B-movie attitude has not changed much from the last game, Earth is still being invaded by aliens who are manipulating insects to grow to huge sizes as we yet again join the ranks of the EDF to remove this scourge. The main campaign is set around New Detroit, or what is left of it as stray rockets can easily destroy buildings, disappearing in a cloud of smoke and rubble. You run and gun alongside your fellow EDF comrades, with waypoints and radio chatter giving you an idea of what to do next over a short but intense campaign.
As a member of the EDF you have a choice of four classes to go onto the battlefield with. Trooper is your all rounder, able to use all weapons, revive fallen comrades and move quickly but lacks any real focus. Battle is the heavy weapons guy, slow moving, lots of health but packs one hell of a punch, Tactical is able to produce stationary turrets and mines and finally there’s Jet, who can fly and uses energy weapons but is as weak as a kitten. All classes allow you to rank them up separately from each other, utilizing their specific skills for certain levels.
As you defeat enemies more weapon drops become available that you can select pre-mission. As you only can carry two at a time forward thinking is essential but the rule of thumb is just go for the most powerful and bring on the pain. There are about 300 weapons to unlock (getting all of them requires playing on all difficulty settings) and are categorised for ease of selection like grenade launchers, shotguns, sniper and assault rifles and missile launchers with each category having a huge variety of styles for you to try out, each with unlimited ammo and an active reload function for quick reloading. If you don’t feel a multiple firing homing missile launcher just won’t cut it then there are also plenty of vehicles to try out, like gun and rocket emplacements, tanks and mechs.
Of course it wouldn’t be much of an invasion without the invaders and there is a backload of B-movie classics itching to tear you a new one. Ravagers like ants the size of tanks that spit acid, giant ticks that latch onto your back, house sized spiders that jump at you and killer bees, are the least of your fears as the guys that created them are even bigger. There are various sized Hectors, giant robots that charge around the city, the smaller ones are the size of a block of flats, later they stand taller than a skyscraper and shoot lasers from their eyes. UFO’s also zip around the sky, some take pot shots at you whilst the enormous mother ships block out the sun as they spew even more spiders at you. The scale of the invading Ravagers is immense, even when you are surrounded by skyscrapers and tall houses, the imposing height of these shiny metallic behemoths scare all but the most hardest of the EDF.
The graphics are what to expect from what is essentially a budget game, they do the job but do not have the flair and finish of a blockbuster, but really, who cares as it’s in keeping with the B-movie feel and does not deter from the action packed gameplay. The monsters swarm around you with their own maniacal movements with a kind of comedy bounce when you give them a face full of shotgun as they disintegrate. It’s a little off putting at first until you realise whereelse are they going to put all the bodies as the game just hurls hundreds of enemies at you; there are limits to even the PS3.
A great addition is the multiplayer aspect, with Insect Armageddon offering two player local split screen co-op plus three player co-op online for the whole campaign, however be wary of who you connect with as host quitting results in getting chucked out of the game so it’s best to stick with players you can trust and talk to.
Survival mode initially seemed like a bit of filler but ended up being a riot with six players placed in the middle of the city, taking on wave after wave of Ravagers. With the occasional weapons or artillery drop it’s intense non-stop action with rocket trail smoke scorching across the sky from all angles, the game appearing never to drop a frame.
Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is a pure arcade shooter that is made even better by the inclusion of a multiplayer campaign and a very competitive price point. Buy it now, you won’t regret it.
Rating: Excellent Review policy
You can order Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon from ShopTo for just £23.86, here (PS3) and here (Xbox 360).