E3 2011: Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon (Hands-On)

by: Tina -
Game: Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon
Developer: Vicious Cycle Software
Release Window/Date: July 5th
What works: Players can toy with a few abilities to switch up their combat style, particularly with a plasma shield that also gives a boost to speed.
What needs work: Enemies are uninteresting, the city is ugly and drab, and even the additions of a mech suit fall flat when attempting to enjoy the combat in the game.

While fans may have been excited to see what they consider to be a long awaited iteration to a beloved franchise, they might be disappointed by a third person shooter experience that is nothing more than mediocre. Upon sitting down to experience the Insect Armageddon for myself, the very first quality of the game I noticed were the colors. You might have heard a complaint of gamers that shooters these days are all grey and unremarkable. This has never been more true than in Insect Armageddon. The entire environment is a washed over grey, with the only break in color being for random adorning on enemies. Abnormally large ants attack the protagonist with an orange acid spit, and your retaliation of pelting them with bullets results in bursts of green clouds. Even these colors, however, have a grey and somewhat brown tint that sullies their name on the rainbow. Yellows look like they’ve been rolling around in the gutters of NYC.

Another visual fault I noticed was the fast camera rotation that blurred the screen as you turn your character. Being that insects are attacking you from literally all angles, you’ll need to be constantly rotating to gain a better vantage point in combat. The blurring from the camera rotation only functioned to make the drab city even uglier.

Furthermore, enemies aren’t a joy to attack by any means. Vicious Cycle Software has opted for a challenge in the name of enemies in massive numbers. Your machine gun can tear through enemies easily, but the challenge is in micromanaging as multiple waves of enemies crawl over the city to attack you. Of course, this is the nature of insects and I cannot fault the developers for sticking to a contextually appropriate gameplay setting. I can, however, fault the root idea of the game. Besides insects being inherently uninteresting to battle, they are more of nuisances than challenging enemies that have you pausing the game to choreograph a plan of action. You simply run around spraying bullets everywhere, and are undoubtedly getting kills as you do this.

It quickly becomes a mundane experience, even by the time that large spiders come to attack you. At the very least, you can equip your rocket launcher here to conduct somewhat more gratifying kills as you watch the freakishly large, scraggly insects explode at your doing. Remember, however, that you are so inundated by boring swarms of insects all the while, and so it still feels uninteresting. I often felt more that the swarms of enemies hindered my path to feeling any sensation of progression through the game. I was more so wandering around a large, grey city composed of grey buildings washed out into the background while facing new enemies relentlessly.

The one redeeming quality to the combat in Insect Armageddon was the shield. You can run through enemies while sprinting with your plasma shield, or use it in conjunction with an EMP blast to shock your enemies into submission. There were a few instances that indicated vehicles would be prominent in the gameplay, as well. I jumped into a mech suit with high hopes as to the battling experience being somewhat more gratifying. Unfortunately, although you could say it at least broke the monotony of the gameplay, the mech suit felt slow to move and aiming at fast moving insects became a huge problem when considering this.  

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