Review

Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon Review (PS3)

Remember the time when ants could be squashed with a simple flick of the hand? Hell, a whole bunch of ants could be obliterated if need be. Even the pesky red buggers, who love to nibble on human flesh, flattened under the pressure of a swift battering. What happened? Here we are, representing the Earth Defense Force, guns in hand, staring at the biggest ants this side of a particular 1950's B-movie. Unfortunately for us, all those insects you've swatted are now back: bigger, hungrier, and my word, bigger. One thing's for certain, these big, hungry, insects are looking for revenge.

EDF plays an extremely simple game. Moving away from its Japanese development heritage, both the title and its production are now situated in the United States. This is by no means a bad thing, as a simple structure has been added to the game. Most of your time will be spent heading towards objectives, holding out for back up, and destroying ant hills that litter the streets. There are slight variations of this, but the fundamentals aren't trying to offer any sort of originality, and aim to let players crush as many bugs as possible. It's actually a smart move, as Insect Armageddon doesn't get bogged down with unnecessary objectives, and thus, puts an emphasis on the action.

“Man I feel like buzzin'...”

Speaking of action, there's plenty of it. Before beginning a mission you must choose your soldier type, and typically, there's something for everyone. Whether you want to jet-pack across the battlefield at intense speeds, lumber across the pavement as an armoured behemoth, or even play as a regular footsoldier, all bases are covered. The pros and cons of each make little difference when you're actually fighting, as every soldier has a similar set of weapons. It's all about finding the right balance for you, especially if you prefer having an extra wad of armour compared to being able to reach higher vantage points. Throw all these fighters together, and you have a pretty fearsome line of defence for Team Earth.

Insect Armageddon loves to maintain relentless pressure, so it's lucky the EDF are so well prepared. Throughout your time as a serviceman you'll encounter beasties that are a little more intimidating than the aforementioned ants. Giant wasps fill the sky, creepy crawly ticks skate across the floor, mechanical beasts storm through open areas, all backed up by UFO's that lurk overhead. Luckily, any robotic enemies have weak spots that glow red, meaning you can send a barrage of trusty rockets straight into their Achilles-like sore spots. By far the most terrifying enemy has to be the giant spiders. I'm not afraid of pesky arachnids in real life, but watching their huge legs scuttle over building tops and down to your position is rather freaky. Even worse, they have a habit of standing behind you when it's least expected. Turning round to find Mummy Shelob salivating at the mouth will make you reach for the trigger quicker than ever before.

One of this game's strengths is it's ability to serve up a formula that feels just right. Your AI-controlled team-mates are effective and can handle themselves in tough situations, meaning you can focus on saving number one. Enemies will appear non-stop, but that's the beauty of Insect Armageddon. There's no need to worry about running out of bullet or fire-power, you're given your tools and told to light them up. If things get tricky, a mech suit drops in for your pleasure, or a turret just so happens to lay round the corner. It's impressive how the feeling of a Hollywood blockbuster can be replicated without the developers needing to spend an insane amount of cash, especially when buildings collapse, and alien pods enter the atmosphere all at the same time.

Jet-packs provide a short, but valuable, escape route

Entering the online arena, Insect Armageddon once again shows how it offers a delightfully simple package. You can hop in and out of missions with two other humans at will, and have the chance to try the six player survival test. Just like Gears of War's Horde mode, this pits you against wave after wave of enemy attack, without the objectives of the main campaign. Team work is essential online, as you'll need to pick up fallen friends if the oven gets too hot for them. Whether you choose to play alone or with chums, this title is perfect for eating up a spare hour or two of your time.

Despite lacking the scripted set-pieces of a so-called 'AAA' game, Insect Armageddon does a remarkable job of showing what a focused team can produce on a minimal budget. Vicious Cycle have produced a sequel that is fun, accessible, and most importantly, self-aware. It never tries to tackle the big guns head on, reinforced by the fact you can pick it up for near the £20 mark. Although this title isn't going to establish a long-term relationship with players, it has the potential to be the booty call when you're sick of yet another over-muscled shooter. In truth, Insect Armageddon wants to be your bitch, offering a one-night fling when you just want a little light relief.

Most Memorable Moment: The giant spiders are truly grotesque and terrifyingly quick.

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