|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: Vicious Cycle|
|Pub: D3 Publisher|
|Release: July 5, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Animated Blood, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
You know, sometimes you don't want an FPS filled with deep strategy. Sometimes you don't want to take your time camping strategic points while ducking under cover. Sometimes, all you really want is a game where you can blow up everything around you. That's exactly what Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is. A guilty pleasure game straight down to its $40 price tag, Earth Defense Force is about shooting the ever loving crap out of giant insects and not much else. Like Rambo in a space marine costume, it's up to you and the sheer force of your manly bullets to save the world from an alien invasion.
Let's start with the story. Hah! Sorry. I couldn't type the word "story" in relation to this game with a straight face. You are a member of Strike Force Lightning, a futuristic platoon that is apparently made up of eighties action movie stereotypes. An alien race that happens to look exactly like giant insects and moves around using ant-hills—yet somehow still manages to be totally unrelated to the insects of earth—has started invading the planet in the only logical place, Detroit. Kill them! Kill them all! Don't stop killing them until your thumbs are ready to fall off. That's literally the extent of the story.
The dialogue is so bad it feels like you're watching a B movie. You will constantly get updates from HQ over your com, but the person doing the voice work of your dispatcher sounds completely awkward. Her lines are just so dumb it's strange to think that anyone put these down to paper at some point. "We call those large aliens that look like genetically mutated Earth insects 'ravagers,' because they are ravaging Detroit." No really, is that why?
The rest of the dialogue isn't much better. Your squadmates shout random quips like "E-D-F!" and "Man, I love being a part of Lighting," and "Anyone notice these bugs smell bad?" It's like someone tried to write the worst dialogue imaginable so that it comes full circle and become absolutely hilarious.
Once you realize you are better off just ignoring the story, you begin to see that there is actually some depth to the gameplay system here. Before you go off on your bug-killing rampage, you have to choose between one of four armor classes. Each armor class has its own spread of five or six different weapons to choose from, and it can equip two of them at a time. Each weapon category also has tiers of weapons that unlock as you level up by killing bugs and completing missions, and each weapon tier has multiple weapons in it that can be purchased from credits you acquire in the same way. All in all, there are about 300 weapons to unlock and customize your armors with. And there's variety, too. There are homing rockets for people with bad aim, explosive shotguns for people who like close range combat, assault rifles with clips longer than my small intestine, and sniper rifles for people who honestly don't get the concept of "blow up everything around you."
That doesn't even begin to take into account the special abilities of each armor class. You basically have an MP bar that constantly regenerates, which you spend on nifty abilities that might as well be magic. Defensive armor classes can cause huge shockwaves that destroy everything around them, while offensive classes increase their damage. Also—and this is very important—there is a jet pack class that basically gives you full aerial mobility to rain death upon your insect enemies from above. Maybe you didn't hear me: This game has jet packs! What more do you want?
When the game starts, you'll notice a few things right off the bat. First of all, you have infinite ammo. The only thing preventing you from laying volley after volley of bullets into your enemies is each gun's reload time. Second, each gun has an active reload function that you can activate with decent timing, pretty much making reload time a non-issue. Third, you have a lot of health, even if you play a weaker class, and health packs drop plentifully, even on the hard difficulties. It's nearly impossible to die in this game, and that feels great.
So you drop into the bug swarm and are immediately told to go toward the waypoint marked on your map. When you get there, you are told to kill some bugs. Then you are told to go to another waypoint to blow up an ant-hill. Then you are told to go to another waypoint and blow up some more bugs, then another ant-hill, then another waypoint. This is basically all the game has to throw at you. Sometimes you'll be asked to kill bugs from the cockpit of a plane, sometimes you'll be asked to kill bugs using a mounted turret, sometimes you'll be asked to kill giant robot bugs, and sometimes you'll be asked to kill lots of bugs while you wait out a timer. In the end, it's just "go here; kill bugs," and that's about it. But the missions are short, and at the end of each one you'll be seeing that experience bar go up and those weapons unlock. It's really hard to stop playing.