Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon E3 2011 Hands-On PreviewBy Adam Rosenberg - Posted Jun 16, 2011
Giant bugs, skyscraper-sized robots, UFOs and giant explosions. These are the hallmarks of the Earth Defense Force games. Earth Defense Force: 2017 was the last console release in the series, an early title in the current console generation. It didn’t look so hot, but budget pricing and flat-out fun gameplay make it a keeper for many. Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon, out next month, looks a whole lot better. Plus, vehicles are actually worth climbing into now.
This is a good thing.
The new game is a spinoff rather than a proper sequel, set elsewhere in humanity’s struggle against alien invaders that feel like they’ve been ripped straight from the pages of Starship Troopers. The story really doesn’t matter so much when you get right down to it though; what matters are the large, highly destructible battlefields you wage war on. You’ll knock down entire skyscrapers with a single rocket and leave multiple cities in total ruin before the 15 campaign missions – which can be played solo, in splitscreen mode with two players or online with three – come to an end.
The first game was all about playing through levels again and again, and on increasingly higher difficulty levels, as you searched for powerful weapons pickups. Those pickups return in Insect Armageddon, dropped by so-called “elite” enemies, but there’s also a store you’ll be able to access between missions that you can use to build your armory.
Players also now have four armor sets, or classes, to choose from before hitting the bug-infested streets. The Trooper, equipped with light armor and fast-firing weapons, is well-suited to players who prefer to have a lot of mobility. The Tactical class is built for support, with medium armor and access to the game’s range of turrets (machine gun, plasma, radar, etc.). The Jet class comes equipped with a jetpack (sweet!) and specializes in both energy-based weapons and sniper rifles. Finally, the Battle class is your walking tank. Heavy armor, heavy weapons, and a battle shield equipped with some powerful area of effect offensive capabilities make this the ideal class for wading into the thick of a bug swarm and coming out alive on the other side.
Each class levels up as you play, and upgrades can be purchased in a number of categories. You’ll be able to improve your armor and health, gain access to higher tiers of weapons, and earn all sorts of class-specific boosts, such as a more powerful shield for the Battle soldiers. All of which amounts to more variety in the campaign, which again encourages repeat playthroughs with bigger bonuses for those who take on the Hard and Inferno difficulty settings.
Let’s talk about the vehicles now. In EDF: 2017, vehicles were essentially a waste of time. Poorly armed and armored, they were universally a pain to control and often exploded after absorbing only a few hits. There are only two vehicle types in Insect Armageddon, Mechs and Tanks, but they’re much more useful. For starters, you can actually drive them without wanting to hurl your controller across the room. They also take a lot more punishment. The tank in particular has space for a single driver plus two mounted machine gunners, making it a solid choice for co-op players.
While the latest EDF doesn’t really change the script so much, it appears to do everything that the last game did, but better. It’s out on July 5 for the more than fair price of $40, so we won’t be waiting too much longer before the bug squashing can begin again.