No matter how amazingly exploding-ly wonderful something is, if it sells roughly a dozen copies you can pretty well bet there won't be more of it. Earth Defense Force 2017 didn't set the sales world on fire but did manage to make a small number of fans happy, and somehow over the years they've become numerous enough to warrant a sequel. A stripped-down and Americanized sequel, sure, but still one that retains the destructive heart of the EDF.
Insect Armageddon does a great job of supplying a chaotic load of run & gun action.
Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon involves, as is standard for the EDF series, a giant B-movie alien insect and robot invasion of Earth. Nobody's quite sure where the ridiculously huge ants, spiders, wasps, and assorted mechanical creatures came from, or even what they want, but they're very clearly not our friends. They may be swarming the screen in their dozens, but it's nothing that a whole lot of firepower can't fix.
Hordes of mecha-bugs can only be repelled with overwhelming force, after all, and Earth Defense Force is all about providing choice in destructive methods. There are four classes to choose from, each with its own special skills and weapon sets, and they're all fun to mess around with. Trooper is the classic EDF soldier, quick and maneuverable with some of the weirdest weapons in the game. Battle is a giant hulking armored soldier, slow-moving but with a defensive shield that not only blocks enemy attacks but also protects him from the effects of his own explosive rounds. Jet is the fastest of the classes, capable of limited flight but unfortunately slowed down by weak weaponry. Finally, Tactical can lay down a helper turret to add extra punch to any battle. You can swap classes and choose your two-weapon load-out between missions - though each class levels up individually, so a little specialization might help with the later levels. A little extra health and more powerful weaponry can go a long way when surrounded by a swarm of giant ants, a couple of Hector robots, and an enormous mecha- preying mantis.
While the chaos of pure run & gun shooting is always fun, especially when the results of the action involve leveling all the buildings in several square blocks, Insect Armageddon comes to an end far too quickly. For a budget title, fifteen decent-length levels isn't bad, but there are giant holes in the narrative you could drive a ten-story Hector through. What was the classified object you spent half the game chasing after? What about the mother ship? Why does Insect Armageddon only stop instead of end, without even a "To Be Continued"? While the EDF series isn't known for its epic narrative, it's at least always provided a complete experience. Insect Armageddon forgot to have an ending, or even any kind of change in the status quo between the game's beginning and end. Pure action gaming is great fun, and even better when played online with friends, but with no ending it feels kind of pointless.
Missing story bits aside, Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon does a good job of updating the series mechanics, especially with the diversified player classes. It could use a few more enemy types, and the levels look a bit same-y due to all being inside the same city, but it delivers some very satisfying destructive action. There are a few glitches here and there, and it doesn't quite manage the heights of crazed glory of Earth Defense Force: 2017 (which was also developed as a budget title), but the parts that work are a load of fun. It's hard to go wrong blasting back the endless swarms of an alien invasion using all the firepower in the world, and Insect Armageddon does a great job of supplying a chaotic load of run & gun action.
Download the Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon survival guide (PDF, 10.8 MB).