Giant Bomb Review

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Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon Review

2
  • X360
  • PS3

Insect Armageddon fails to capture the chaos that made its predecessor "special," meaning there's little to distract you from the simple, repetitive, and boring gameplay underneath.

Say what you will about Earth Defense Force 2017, but at least it was distinct. Arriving stateside back in early 2007 to players exhausted by WWII shooters and Halo knockoffs, EDF 2017 treated players to massive, chaotic battles against giant mutated insects, laser-blasting walking robots and sky-filling motherships. Sure, it controlled poorly, looked like a Japanese budget game, and was sort of terrible. But it was simple and, in its best moments, totally exhilarating, with fun destruction and chaotic battles against some of the biggest enemies ever witnessed on this generation of hardware.

The Battle Armor can detonate an EMP blast that kills bugs quick.

Four years later, publisher D3 has followed up on that game’s cult successes with Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon, developed by an American studio (Vicious Cycle, developer of Eat Lead) to recapture the best elements of 2017 and put them in a better game. Vicious Cycle has certainly made improvements over the previous game, but the fundamental flaw with Insect Armageddon is that it simply doesn't capture the sheer scale and explosive chaos that made its Japanese predecessor so memorable. Couple that with a shooter backbone that's too simple and too repetitive to rope in fans of the genre and you're left with Insect Armageddon, a game that will fail to entice either fans of the genre or the series.

It’s all too bad, because Insect Armageddon is, in a number of meaningful ways, a “better” game than its predecessor. Vicious Cycle has removed many of 2017’s most glaring problems and issues. The previous game’s awkward movement controls have been gutted and replaced with a standard third-person shooter scheme that actually works. Also gone are 2017’s atrocious vehicle controls, replaced again by sensible control mechanisms. No matter how much love--ironic or otherwise--one could have for EDF, that game’s control shortcomings were indefensible, and it’s good to see them replaced with a standard control scheme that lets you stop thinking about what you're doing and simply do it.

Insect Armageddon also significantly expands on the previous game’s multiplayer offerings to bring it in line with modern releases. The series' two-player split screen option returns, but Insect Armageddon also offers online co-op for the campaign for up to three players, as well as a wave-based survival mode for up to six players online. Online matches run smoothly, and, as you might expect, blasting bugs is always more fun with friends than by your lonesome. The online additions aren’t too extensive, but they’re a welcome addition.

With a host of improvements made to virtually every facet of the game, Insect Armageddon may seem like a more-than-worthy successor to 2017. However, for all of Insect Armageddon’s upgrades and fixes, I couldn’t help but feel something indelible to EDF had been lost in the translation.

You might think that flying over giant insects would be fun. You would be wrong.

Part of the problem is that, for a game ostensibly about fighting hordes of giant insects, Insect Armageddon feels very small. Though Vicious Cycle can (and does) fill the game world with whole colonies of ants, spiders and mantises, the game rarely evokes the outlandish sense of scale that helped 2017 to stand out in a sea of superior shooters. 2017 featured motherships that filled every corner of the sky, and robots so tall that the ground shook with every lumbering step across the level. The city would shatter apart with errant rocket blasts, laser strikes, and acid web discharge flying in all directions. For all of its obvious faults, 2017 did an incredible job rendering its own giant, explosive chaos.

But Insect Armageddon never manages to hit that mark. The giant ants and robots of 2017 aren’t nearly as big in Insect Armageddon, and too many of the game’s battles take place inside smaller areas, fenced off by invincible buildings that further shrink and contain the scale of the conflict. The series' ridiculous rocket explosions and ship crashes are muted and wimpy, and the act of firing those weapons isn't particularly satisfying. To make matters worse, the ants and giant robots simply disintegrate into the air upon death, which really takes the impact out of destroying a swarm of enemies. Only in the very last level of EDF’s brief four-hour campaign does the game introduce an element that actually matches the ridiculous scope of 2017, but at that point it's too little, too late. The game just can’t tap into that same well of ridiculous, explosive chaos that 2017 was able to maintain, and increasing the difficulty only serves to make individual enemies harder (rather than increasing the number of enemies onscreen at any given moment).

Without being able to emulate the specific qualities that made 2017 compelling, Insect Armageddon’s other flaws are much harder to ignore. Though it improves some of 2017's systems, Insect Armageddon still isn’t a very good shooter compared to the competition; its an achingly simple shooter with a run-and-gun mentality more commonly associated with the early 2000s than shooters today. Killing bugs and robots gets old pretty fast, and it’s all made worse by the game's total lack of mission variety. Through the game’s 15 missions, you’ll alternate between holding down a position from attackers, destroying ant hills to keep enemies from spawning, and blowing up downed ships. These objective types are recycled endlessly throughout the game, and you’ll have had your fill of these types before you’re a third of the way through the campaign.

Insect Armageddon manages to squash the thrill of killing giant insects.

The few boss and sub-bosses throughout the game could have offered a brief reprieve from the repetitive objective-based missions, but that boredom will only be replaced by frustration. Though every boss has a very clear and obvious weak-point target, it can be extremely difficult to tell if you’re actually hitting the weak spot. This can lead to boss battles that stretch out far longer than they should.

To make the matters of the repetitive gameplay worse, Insect Armageddon has multiple systems in place that are centered around replaying levels and encounters over and over again. Unlike certain other modern shooters, Insect Armageddon can’t make its leveling-based upgrade system compelling and, as such, the constant grinding demanded by the game never inspires the kind of level-crazed loot-focused addiction that it seems to be chasing so desperately.

Insect Armageddon feels trapped between the competing goals of trying to emulate its cult classic forebear and trying to be a modern video game. It splits the difference, and the result is a game that probably won’t please fans of modern shooters or fans of 2017. Insect Armageddon isn’t wanting for content, especially with its $40 launch price tag, but it gives you little reason to explore it.

102 Comments
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Edited by csl316

This makes me sad, because I loved 2017 and its ridiculousness : (

I've yet to see a proper giant UFO, walking battle station, or big ass Mecha Dino. *sigh*

Posted by Rahf

Typo in title? :)

Edited by csl316

@Rahf: and in the description, actually.

Edit: Props on the quick ninja fix.

Posted by Yoda

W hat do you expect? Kessler wrote it :P

Posted by FoxMulder

sick review picture bro.

Posted by MisterMouse

woah the page seems to be loading weird right now.

Posted by Artie

I love the formatting of this review

Posted by UnderseaManboy

wee

Posted by Jacob816

The formatting seems a little off.

WAY TO FUCK IT UP KESSLER!!!

Posted by kollay

Two stars too many.

Posted by Apollo87

Loading weird for me too. 
 
And Kessler's review pic is kinda weird since I don't think it looks even a bit like him.

Posted by Sinkwater

I'd easily recommend this game to anyone who liked the first.

Posted by wolf_blitzer85

Whoa crazy format bro.

Also that picture suits you.

Posted by Artie
Posted by pepperzz

Word on the street is that 2nd player gets achievements in this game, and didn't in the first one. Good enough for me to play it.

Posted by wolf_blitzer85

@Artie: Oh man I didn't even notice the ones on the side until I looked at that. Hah. It really should just stay this way now.

Posted by Animasta

if only I cared what kessler thought!

Posted by MacGeorge

HOORAY FOR KESSLER!

Posted by Video_Game_King

Maybe linking to the Quick Look (where Patrick and Ryan proceed to tear into Kessler) wasn't the best idea.

Posted by Marz

why's the page look all funky?

Posted by RandomInternetUser

The page does not look funky at all to me...

Posted by RobertOrri

Not sure if the broken page formatting is supposed to be a joke or not.

Posted by OneKillWonder_

While I did enjoy 2017 more, IA really is pretty fun, more than Kessler gives it credit for. The biggest problem is, as mentioned, the campaign is incredibly short, especially compared to 2017's, and is without any sort of variety. The way the last missions ends makes it seem like the game is unfinished, as well. Also, the matchmaking is almost totally busted. I've been able to get into exactly one Campaign game, and to its credit, it ran very smoothly, but every other attempt so far has been a bust. Survival matchmaking hasn't worked a single time for me. Besides that, I'm having a pretty good time with it. The weapons are cool, and the Battle and Tactical armors are fun to use.

Posted by Tarsier

the picture doesnt match the rating/review

Posted by CastroCasper

So many Kessler babies!

Posted by MEATBALL

This is the end of dog racing.

Posted by tracerace11

PAGE FAIL

Posted by Animasta

@OneKillWonder said:

While I did enjoy 2017 more, IA really is pretty fun, more than Kessler gives it credit for. The biggest problem is, as mentioned, the campaign is incredibly short, especially compared to 2017's, and is without any sort of variety. The way the last missions ends makes it seem like the game is unfinished, as well. Also, the matchmaking is almost totally busted. I've been able to get into exactly one Campaign game, and to its credit, it ran very smoothly, but every other attempt so far has been a bust. Survival matchmaking hasn't worked a single time for me. Besides that, I'm having a pretty good time with it. The weapons are cool, and the Battle and Tactical armors are fun to use.

I've heard that you need to play the final mission on hard or inferno to get the actual ending to the game. I dunno, just what I hear

Posted by Roomrunner

For a 2 star review, that baby seems to like it.

Edited by SpacePenguin

oh god whats wrong with the page?? 
Also Im surprised they let Kessler review a game, just cause he's an intern an all.

Posted by Sticky_Pennies
Posted by evilmax17

@snide: Down to $4.50 per use!

Posted by horseman6

And he's wrong on so many levels. EDF 4 does some things better and some things worse than 2017 but it's just as good as the previous title.

Posted by MattBodega

@SpacePenguin: I'm just as surprised!

Posted by MrTeeb

DAMMIT KESSLER, YOU RUIN EVERYTHING.

Posted by insanejedi

go Kessler!

Posted by Vinny_Says

Interns are doing reviews now?

Posted by Guided_By_Tigers

This game looks intense.

Posted by ajamafalous

God that review icon.

Edited by CornBREDX

Since you're going to get a lot of hate here, I just wanted to say keep up the good work Kessler. Ignore the haters.

I have no interest in this game- score seems about right based solely on footage I have seen of the game.

Posted by Spoonman671

Fine, but I want this for any 5-star reviews (like they'd let you play a 5-star game!  Ha!):
 

Online
Posted by Lunar_Aura

WHODAFUQ IZ DAT BABBY?

Posted by mrangryface

A bad game is only awesome when it fully commits to being what it is- the instant the developer elevates the quality only a single aspect of that bad game its revealed as what it actually is- a bad game.

Posted by Silver-Streak

Kessler: I don't understand some of the hate, and I'm sorry some people feel the need to be bastards rather than give constructive criticism. I think this is a good review of a bad game, so nice work. Also, yes, you should use the inFamous Kessler image for any good reviews.

Posted by bkbroiler

I thought the first game was repetitive and tedious, as well. Glad to see nothing has changed.

Posted by Red12b
dude...who the fuck made your avatar thing a fucking cherub?  
 
@Spoonman671
said:
Fine, but I want this for any 5-star reviews (like they'd let you play a 5-star game!  Ha!):
 
yes
Posted by yogetoutdaway

Giantbomb drinking game rule 23: Finish your drink every time someone says or writes the phrase "say what you will about..."

Posted by Devil240Z

Wow this review is total bullshit. He didn't even talk about remix mode which adds crazy ammounts of more enemies. The game is still fun. I have always been a kessler supporter but he is really trying to make me hate him right now.

Posted by mrangryface

@Devil240Z: You're right- that's why he wrote this review. You.

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