I like EDF: Insect Armageddon.
I mean, there are some things that are just beyond criticism. And when you get to fight giant insect, giant mechs, and giant mechanical insects in a game, that game cannot be criticized.
I kid, I kid. EDF: Insect Armageddon is flawed. Rather flawed, actually. But even despite those flaws the base experience is so enjoyable that I can ignore those all the way through the campaign. It was only during replaying and preparing for this article when the flaws start surfacing. I did get the game during the Steam Christmas sale for a dollar, so in terms of value I would say I made a rather respectable profit.
In EDF: IA, you have four different armour types. They determine how you play and the equipment you have.
The Trooper armour is the jack-of-all-trades armour, sacrificing gimmicks for quicker movement and reload, revives and some unique weapons. Personally, this is the armour type that I hate using the most because it just feels so boring. I get that having a basic jack-of-all-trades are standard in games as it allows new players to experience the game first, and that they are generally easier to pick up and use. But the lack of it having anything fun just makes me want to use the other armours instead.
The Battle armour is basically what you get if you combine a Marine with a Sherman tank.
The Battle armour’s weapons are some of the most powerful available, as the armour provides enough strength for you to actually carry those damn things and sustain the recoil. I suspect that those are initially mounted on tanks, and the researchers at EDF are like:”Eh, he’s close enough to a tank anyway”, and just equipped them onto the Battle armour. This armour’s biggest downside is its mobility. It is so heavy, jumping is only possible by activating the four mini rocket thrusters on your back.
The armour also comes with an energy shield, showing up as a blue hologram shield in front of you. Despite appearances, it actually provides protection against damages from any direction. A more translucent holographic bubble manifests itself when you’re attacked from any direction, shielding you from any sort of damages. Absorbing damages drains your energy meter, which is the blue bar on the right. Every other armour type except for Trooper (because he’s boring) has an energy bar for their abilities.
The Jet armour is pretty fun to pilot around. It has a jetpack which allows him to fly. Once that bar is drained, it prevents you from flying and reloading until your energy bar refills, since the Jet armour exclusively uses energy weapons and the resource bar is also used for the weapons as well. Which means you can get yourself surrounded by ravenous giant ants as you are landlocked and your weapons are dry, and you can do absolutely nothing until your energy bar refills completely.
The mobility is what draws me to this armour. One of the most fun things to do in this game is sliding across the floor sideways, circle-strafing enemies while sending explosives flying everywhere. And by the way, when you wear the Jet armour, you don’t walk. You glide. Everywhere. Because when you have jetpacks mounted permanently on your back swinging your legs to move about is just way too much of a chore.
I have a sort of love-hate relationship with the Jet armour. It is the only armour that exclusively uses energy weapons. And compared to the more conventional lead and explosives weaponry that the other armours have, they felt really weak. I am not entirely sure if they are actually a lot weaker numbers-wise, but they feel underwhelming. However, just for the freedom to glide across the battlefield everywhere I’m willing to put up with the sci-fi peashooter weapons. There is nothing better than gliding around, drifting across the ground and avoiding gunfire as you shoot the hell out of some giant alien mecha with a rocket launcher.
Tactical armour allows you to throw down deployables. Turrets, mines, or sensors. Aside from that he’s just Trooper with more armour and slower everything else.
I was expecting to say more about this armour, but there really isn’t much else to write.
That said, this is actually my most favourite armour. The playstyle of this is almost exactly like playing Combat Engineer in TF2 except I get a rocket launcher as well. And I do love playing Combat Engineer.
At some points, you get to operate turrets. I personally use them a lot when I am fighting airborne enemies on the occasion when I forgot to bring bullet-based weaponry or homing missiles. Trying to fight those when you have nothing but a shotgun and a rocket launcher is a bit like trying to fight a swarm of mosquitoes by chucking peas at them. Other than that, I much prefer to roam around playing exterminator while the AI squadmates pilot the turrets instead.
Although given the choice between a shotgun and a rocket launcher for fighting drone swarms, I will definitely pick the shotgun. It actually has a much better chance of killing drones since the shotgun’s pellets have significantly shorter travel times and the drones seem to be made out of paper considering how delicate they are. And they are so fast, it’s almost impossible to hit them with rockets.
Tanks are a bit more to my liking. While they are rather slow, it still allows me to leg it when things get way too hairy. However, their slow movement makes them more of a liability when fighting larger enemies that can take a few hits. At the very least, those bloody ticks can’t latch onto me when I’m in tanks, so that’s a plus.
The tanks are three-seaters, with two extra gunner seats. The AI squadmates may sometimes hop onto them, but it’s mainly for the co-op folks to use.
But my most favourite thing of all are the mech suits. They let you stand face-to-face against bosses as you start gunning them down instead of having to scurry about like a rat avoiding a cat when a Hector starts charging towards my general location. It is sort of slow, true, but the guns and the bulk makes it worthwhile.
Besides, it’s a mech! They are way cooler than tanks in every single aspect!
In a game where almost every enemy is larger than you and collateral damage is calculated by the amount of city blocks demolished, spectacle is everything in this game. Gunning down swarms of giant ants is just the beginning of it. The various boss monsters they throw at you all have rather interesting designs and are absolutely awe-inspiring when you first see them, mainly because they are at least five times your height.
The enemy design of the mooks however are somewhat unsatisfactory. You have drones, giant ants, giant robot ants, giant spiders, giant robot spiders, giant wasps, giant robot wasps, and giant ticks twice the size of a football and a massive pain in the ass. The robot variants are the original mooks with a metal shell and lasers basically. Thankfully, the larger foes are rather interesting, except for the airborne carriers that just sits in the air and drop mooks on me.
According to the wiki, it actually carpet-bombed the ground in one of the earlier missions. But then, my AI squadmates demolished more buildings on a regular basis, so I can’t say I noticed that happening.
On the bright side, bringing a carrier ship down is really fun. They crashed into the ground diagonally, destroying every building in its path, then explode. It’s a real spectacle.
As I said, the core gameplay loop is rather fun and satisfying. Sure, it’s just variations of going somewhere and shoot something, but killing giant monsters and taking out buildings by accident makes it a rather cathartic experience like no other. It’s just something about bringing down colossal beings, like bringing down Khnums in Serious Sam 3 and that Necrogiant in Painkiller, that sparks an almost primal joy in me. The spectacle almost never gets old, and bringing down giants as a puny human is always satisfying.
However, there are parts I’m not too happy about. The environments are just various desaturated shades of brown and gray. In fact, the visuals in general look pretty bland. Sure, it means that the brightly-coloured attacks and glowing weak spots are a lot more visible in contrast, but it just gets rather boring and dry to look at. Yes, I did demolished half the city until there’s nothing but gravel left, but you don’t have to make everything look so drab in anticipation of me nuking the city more than the aliens did.
At the end of the last mission, it feels that the game is almost out of things to throw at you. At that point you have literally seen everything and fought everything, except for one last entity that you don’t even get to fight. Aside from that, it also feels like there isn’t much variety in what you do. There is a Campaign Remix option which randomizes the enemies you faced, so at least there’s an option there.
The last two points may have something to do with my biggest gripe with the game: it’s too short. I mean, I paid a buck for about six hours of entertainment, and by all accounts that’s a really good deal. But finishing the campaign just made me yearn for something more.
Despite all that, I recommend Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon. Even considering its base price of $10, I say it’s rather good value for your money. The rather simple joy of bringing down giant monsters makes it a game that’s worth looking at.
Truly, this is one of the best games I’ve played in my life. If only there’s something more that can top this experience, but it seems that … wait a second. EDF 4.1?
Trust the land of kaijus and mechs to do fighting giant monsters justice.
That’s it. That is everything I look for in a video game and then some. There is no game in the world that can impress my anymore unless the latest installment of this franchise is released on Steam, because I can’t afford a PS4 and I don’t live in Japan.
That is it. That’s the pinnacle of video games right there. I’m done.