Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon Review (PC)

Earth Defense Force (or Chikyū Bōeigun as it’s known in its native Japan) is probably the most successful budget video game series in the history of the medium. Despite being technically unimpressive and simplistic, this line of third person shooters based on a cheesy B-movie scenario and mindless non-stop carnage has earned a cult following.

For the latest EDF, subtitled Insect Armageddon, development was moved away from Japan and passed to a Western studio for the first time. Vicious Cycle Software, best known for creating the flawed Duke Nukem parody Eat Lead: The Story of Matt Hazard, take the helm and produce an EDF that is both true to series’ template and yet updated with modern game play features and mechanics.

Higher screen resolutions, Steam integration and the choice between using a keyboard and mouse or a controller make this the version to get

You can find more about the finer points of the overall game in our review of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, but here’s the experience in a nutshell. Aliens are invading Earth’s cities, unleashing giant rampaging ants, wasps, spiders and other monstrosities. It’s down to you, as a member of the titular military force, to stem the tide of invading creepy crawlies, UFOs and robots by any means necessary. And by “any means necessary” I mean shooting the hell out of everything with all manner of weapons, turrets and mech suits.

Insect Armageddon sports a host of improvements over its 2007 predecessor Earth Defense Force 2017. Game play has been built upon to bring it more inline with modern shooters and the graphics are vastly improved. You can now choose between four customisable character classes and even team up with others online. The campaign mode can be played with up to two other people and a Gears of War style survival mode can be undertaken with up to six players in total.

Insect Armageddon is fine solo, if a bit slow-paced. You’ll want two other people tagging along in co-op to get the most out of the experience

Though this PC port of the game arrives over six months after its console counterparts I’m happy to report that it’s made the transition very well. Given its budget price it was never going to go out of its way to take full advantage of the PC’s potential so don’t expect improved textures, higher polygon counts or DirectX 10 or 11 support. However, it does cater for higher screen resolutions of up to 1680x1050 and manages to maintain a silky smooth frame rate despite often rendering dozens of large enemies and some amusing physics. Aside from the giant insects themselves I haven’t experienced any bugs or technical issues.

Though the minimum system specifications are not quite what I’d call low (that much is to be expected from a game originally developed for the current generation of consoles) any gaming rig built in the past four or five years will be sufficient to run it.

The inclusion of dodging, running, active reloads and class specific abilities add a lot of depth to the core game play mechanics

Given how slipshod most console-to-PC ports tend to be the developers deserve the recognition for putting in the effort. While it doesn’t blow the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 editions clean out of the water the added support for higher screen resolutions, Steam integration, optional DLC and the choice between using a keyboard and mouse or a controller make it the superior version.

Has Vicious Cycle moved the game too far from its “so bad that it’s good” roots to stay true to the spirit of the series? I’ll leave that for the hardcore fans to decide. On its own merits, the PC version of Insect Armageddon is a strong port of the most modern and proficient Earth Defense Force yet. The downloadable version is even cheaper than its console counterparts too, currently “e-tailing” for £14.99 on Steam.

Top Game Moment: Switching off your brain for some mindless shooty fun. Which is every time you play.

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By djole381 (SI Elite) on Jan 03, 2012
This game is for those who lack a refined taste for true games. Tried it at a friends place. Unbelievably boring and tedious to play.
By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Jan 08, 2012
I picked this up in the Steam Winter Sale, and while not as raw as it's predecessor it's still a bit of light fun - real beer'n'pretzels night with the boys.
The amount of DLC for it is disapppoining, as is the trend to produce it. Weapons Packs....should be included in updates, as such items are with Indie game. "Space Pirate and Zombies" is a good example of how it should be done.