Earth Defense Force Insect Armageddon Hands-On Preview for Xbox 360

Earth Defense Force Insect Armageddon Hands-On Preview for Xbox 360

Not for the Entomophobic

The Earth Defense Force series may not be for everyone, but its over-the-top bug-shooting action is the stuff of a gaming cult classic. The newest game in the series, Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon, will be out soon, and I got a chance to play it at E3. This little shooter, first and foremost, is for the hardcore fans.

For those unfamiliar with the series, it takes place during an invasion of aliens that look remarkably similar to gigantic versions of insects found on Earth. As a member of Earth Defense Force, or EDF, your only goal is to wipe these creepy crawlies out with as much violence as possible.

Earth Defense Force Insect Armageddon Screenshot

The first mission I played had me and another player in the middle of a city, surrounded by giant ants. There seemed to be no end to these things, and it was easy to lose sight of them as they climbed up the sides of buildings. And let me tell you, seeing an ant the size of a horse scaling a building is pretty creepy. Unfortunately, my teammate and I were focusing more on the booth rep’s long list of weapon types than on the game itself, and we were quickly wiped out by the overwhelming rush of ants.

We tried out a different mission—determined to survive this time—and we were promptly attacked by Bomber Spiders. These disgusting little things would climb up onto our backs and cling there for a moment before exploding in a splatter of green guts while dealing massive damage. It wouldn’t have been too difficult if there were only a few of them, but they attacked in hordes.

At the end of the stage was a boss fight against a giant daddy longlegs. This thing reminded me a lot of the Striders from Half-Life 2, only it was even larger. Yeah, those Striders could be a real pain to deal with, but this daddy longlegs was worse. To make matters worse, it had a small army of flying spacecraft to protect it. My partner and I had to bring out the heavy artillery to deal with this thing.

I’m not going to lie; Insect Armageddon has a very old school feel to it. To me, it feels a lot more like a PSOne era throwback than a current-gen title. For example, a couple bullets are enough to make the car down the street explode, yet high-powered explosives won’t even break a window in the building right in front of you. Don’t expect positional damage or realistic destructibility. But that’s fine; the real focus of the game is the bugs themselves.

Earth Defense Force Insect Armageddon Screenshot

If you were one of the many people who complained about the lack of any sort of online features in previous games in the series, your cries have not gone unnoticed. In fact, Insect Armageddon was entirely built with online play in mind. You will be able to play the campaign cooperatively with up to three players. There’s even a new Survival Mode which has up to six players see how long they can hold back swarms of buggers. The real challenge of Survival Mode is deciding when to help your fellow players, and when to let them die off so you can rack up points without them getting in your way. Of course, there is also split screen multiplayer, so you can squash buggers with a friend who’s sitting right next to you.

While fans of previous entries may have complained about the lack of online play, most will agree that using turrets was a real blast. This is another area where fans should be pleased with Insect Armageddon. There has been an entire class created around the use of turrets, so this game definitely has no shortage of turret goodness.

Earth Defense Force Insect Armageddon Screenshot

Of course, turrets are only one of the many bug-slaughtering tools at your disposal. Fans willing to pick up the DLC packs will find themselves with over 300 weapons to choose from. No matter how you like to kill your buggers, Insect Armageddon has something to fit your unique preferences.

Insect Armageddon’s graphics don’t hold a candle to other upcoming shooters like BioShock Infinite or Battlefield 3, but if you’re going to complain about graphics, you’re completely missing the point of the EDF series. It’s not about looking pretty; it’s about shooting thousands and thousands of gigantic bugs and watching them ooze green slimy guts all over the pavement. More importantly, it’s about walking down an insect-infested street and being a total badass. Who cares about graphics when you have a gigantic gun and ants the size of cars to shoot at?

Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon makes a strong case that there’s nothing wrong with the desire to simply blow stuff up. With massive firepower at your fingertips, enormous hordes of bugs to slaughter, and online functionality, Insect Armageddon looks like it could be a great way to spend a hot summer afternoon once it launches on July 5. One word of warning though: if you are squeamish about insects, this game is probably going to make you squirm.

Game Features:

  • Intense squad-based action with three-player online multiplayer form start to finish, and six-player survival mode.
  • Split screen co-op returns for local multiplayer action.
  • Hardcore ‘Inferno Mode’ for elite gamers.
  • EDF’s trademark gameplay: killing thousands of swarming giant bugs and robots in a completely destroyable city.

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