Earth Defense Force: EDF and Insect Armageddon
Whoreson here. I recently purchased EDF: Insect Armageddon and wanted to talk to you chaps about the greatness that is the EDF Xbox series. I specify because EDF apparently has a history. A history that I don’t give two shits about, but I respect the people who do.
Anyways, let’s talk EDF first.
You are put in the shoes of one of the EDF, a generic army of soldiers dedicated to running up to large bugs and giant robots and shooting them in the face with various colorful weapons. Your generic city (I mean Tokyo) is being attacked by aliens called Ravagers. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to go toe to toe with these giant creatures with nothing more than “conventional” weapons and the world’s derpiest armor.
What makes EDF amazing? For me, it’s the campy dialogue. If you watch the video below, you’ll get some idea of what I mean. It just really adds to the B movie feel of the whole game. The dialogue is so bad, it’s hilarious.
Another thing that makes me love the game is the ridiculous enemies. Not only do you fight off giant ants (black and red) that spray brown acid out of their butts and giant spiders that shoot silk out of theirs, but you fight giant robots, space ships, a giant walker AND GIANT ROBOT DINOSAURS. SERIOUSLY, WHO WOULDN’T WANT TO SHOOT A GIANT ROBOT DINOSAUR IN THE FACE WITH 1000000 MISSILES?!!???
The monsters remind me of all the good things in Godzilla / other Kaijuu (Japanese monster) films. Giant monsters are attacking Tokyo, but for once the army can actually do something about it…
The game levels you up by having you pick up Armor items (increasing your max health) and Weapon items (which may contain weapons you’ve never encountered before). Scrambling across the battlefield to pick these up is great fun, and picking up new, stronger weapons by killing harder and harder enemies is a great mechanic. That feeling when you combat roll onto the last weapon box as the MISSION CLEARED message scrolls past your screen is the best feeling.
There are plenty of “oh shit” moments. Particularly when you’re playing with a friend, because you and your friend are going to think you’re tough shit after playing a few levels. You’ll have some decent weapons. You’ll have a plan (mostly, run backwards and shoot at the red blobs on your radar). You’ll breeze through some levels on Normal, maybe even Hard. And you’ll stupidly say – “how hard can Insane be?” Lemme put it this way – if you can’t beat the final levels on Hard, you DO NOT have the weapons to hurt ANYTHING on Insane. Imagine your tried and true guns suddenly becoming worthless on black ants – BLACK FUCKIN’ ANTS. THE EASIEST ENEMY IN THE GAME. YOU’VE JUST UNLOADED 3 CLIPS OF BULLETS INTO 1 INSANE BLACK ANT. AND GUESS WHAT? THERE ARE 30 MORE OF THEM SHOOTING BUTT ACID AT YOU RIGHT NOW. AND WHAT’S THAT? YOU ONLY HAVE 200 HEALTH. WELL, THAT BUTT ACID LAUGHS AT YOUR PUNY HEALTH BAR; IT EATS 200 HEALTH FOR BREAKFAST. “OH SHIT” IS RIGHT. GO BACK TO YOUR NORMAL DIFFICULTY AND PRETEND YOU’RE A TOUGH GUY.
I can hear you now: well whoreson, this game sounds too good to be true; what’s the catch? What’s wrong with it? Well, for one thing, expect physics to not work. You can send ant corpses bouncing into the distance. Spaceships smash into your soldier’s body, giant robots explode all over you, and buildings collapse on your head. And guess what? You’re totally fine. This is quite hilarious, but it is a sign of the main problem with EDF. It’s clearly a rush job. There are clearly a lot of things that are missing from the game, like variety. Expect the same stupid enemies to come barreling at you, level after level. Also, speaking of levels, the cave levels are absolute shit. Sure, you get to use bullets that bounce off the walls, but navigating through a maze JUST to find the last remaining spider is the most boring part of the game. And the vehicles are absolutely awful; their only redeeming factor is their names. I mean seriously Battle Machine Vegelta (VEGETA), EF24 Combat Helicopter Bazelato, E551 Combat Vehicle Gigantus? I’d totally ride a thing named after a DragonBall Z character.
I still can’t help but smile at how even the problems add to the charm of the game. It’s not perfect; it never tries to mislead you into thinking it is. The joy of the game is being a tiny little soldier, in a tacky red jumpsuit, wading into millions of ants with stompy robots shooting lasers over your head, and unleashing bullet/missile/grenade/rocket hell. Watching ants go flying, blowing up buildings in order to save the city, accidentally shooting your coop buddy with a face full of rockets, having a red ant spray its butt acid at you while you barrel roll past, running past an Air Tortoise missile that could kill you if it detonated within 30 feet of you (because it is the slowest fucking weapon ever created) – all of these are what makes you chant EDF along with the AI soldiers on the battlefield.
And now the sequel: Insect Armageddon.
Once again, you play as a member in the EDF. But there have been some changes since the last game. You can now choose from 4 classes (Battle, Trooper, Tactical, Jet). These classes level up and unlock weapons, which you can still pick up on the battlefield (after killing particularly big bads). Each has unique abilities that you can use. The game looks grittier, the enemies look tougher and you look badass instead of like cannon fodder.
What else has changed? Is the sequel worse, like all sequels?
OH MY GOD. THE GAMEPLAY… IS… AMAZING!!!! The developers know how to pace a level. Almost every level had its crescendos, it’s oh shits. You’d meet a new super enemy and suddenly they’d be how you’d start off the level, instead of the finisher. By the last level, the first super enemy you encounter is actually the weakest thing you see. One time I thought the level had finished, after beating down a Carrier (a giant bug that spews out ticks) and a Robot Mantis. But no, 3 Carriers and 3 Robot Mantises dropped in out of nowhere and proceeded to tear into my face. Most of the weapons feel tight and your abilities always seem useful.
The vehicles in this game are much improved. Each one has enough health to tank through enemies. The weapons feel weighty and powerful, blasting bugs and hammering into giant robots. Often the vehicles are the difference between making a particular level survivable or impossible. I absolutely love the Mech. One level puts you in the middle of a canal, with hundreds of bugs and robots swarming in. Your only chance is to climb into one of the mechs that have been dropped into the canal for you and gunning your way to a tunnel exit. At the worst possible moment, the mechs collapse under the weight of enemy fire, and you realize how screwed you were. There you were, in a machine with tons of health dropping machine gun fire and infinite rockets into the droves of bugs. And now, you’re not. Your mind races as you try to count the number of enemies on the screen and in the pulsing radar. You realize that your only chance is to run, shooting over your shoulder as you flee for the checkpoint… Glorious.
So what are my problems with the game? The controls are a bit gamey and take a while to learn. I’m goddamn terrible with quick-time reloads, and that’s a major mechanic in the game. There are really only 2 classes in the whole game (Jet and Tactical). Jets are super fun because they are highly maneuverable and can fly. Doing strafing runs and cartwheels in the air is so awesome. Unfortunately, you’re squishy as hell. On harder difficulties, staying alive for more than a few seconds can be a lot of work. Also, your weapons don’t dish out as much as I’d like. On the other hand, the Tactical is the workhorse class. You can dish it out and take it more than any other class. You don’t really notice that you’re slow, unless you’re playing coop with the Jet class. Being able to take an entire salvo of a Hector’s cannon fire into your shield and then returning in kind with some insanely powerful hand cannon makes you feel so powerful in a world where everything towers over you.
My two biggest problems with the game are that it’s short AND there’s less camp. The original EDF had a ton of levels – sure they were repetitive, but there was quantity. IA replaces quantity with quality, which of course I can’t complain about. The lack of camp hurts, but due to stronger gameplay, you’re more focused on blasting away at the enemies instead of listening to your comrades yell out hilariously bad lines.
Earth Defense Force is the perfect game if you love cheesy Sci-Fi B movies or arcady shooters. It is super fun to play with your friends and its variable difficulty and infinite guns keeps it addictive even after you beat it. Its sequel IA loses some of the original’s campiness and trims some length in exchange for tighter, more exciting gameplay. Both are loads of fun and super cheap! I heartily give these games the Whoreson stamp of approval (however much that’s worth).