Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is designed as a mindless arcade-style action game in which you shoot insects and robots until there aren’t any more insects and robots left to shoot. At that level, it’s at least a functional experience. The game is halfway decent when you’re playing co-op and the by-the-numbers gameplay is competent enough to be inoffensive.
The problem, unfortunately, is that Insect Armageddon just doesn’t have any kind of lasting appeal. Once the game starts the bugs just…keep…coming, and the complete lack of mission variety rapidly becomes tedious when you’re shooting the same three insects in the same crumbling urban locations. Insect Armageddon ultimately feels like a modern descendent of Space Invaders and Missile Command, and while that might have once been a compliment, those arcade games were mean to be enjoyed one quarter at a time and fleeting thrills aren’t enough to sustain a modern retail release.
As for Insect Armageddon, you’re playing as members of the Lightning Squad sent in to fight off an invasion of alien Ravagers, who arrive on Earth with an army of giant robots, giant insects, and giant robot insects. The plot is mostly on vacation, but it is occasionally entertaining (the people running the EDF need to work on their communication skills) and the tone matches the game’s arcade style.
Other than that, there’s really not all that much to say. Bullets go in the direction you tell them to, insects die when they get hit with those bullets, and there are a slew of weapon upgrades and other unlockable features that reward players for racking up the kills. The game supports solo, split-screen, and online co-op play for both the campaign and the arcade survival mode, and there are four different unit types that all have distinct strengths and weaknesses.
Sadly, the actual gameplay is severely unbalanced in a way that mitigates the apocalyptic chaos. Insect Armageddon is at its best when you’re battling massive hordes and some of the warzones deliver appropriately intense quantities of ants and spiders. Once you’ve cleared those out, however, most encounters are reduced to lazy struggles against robots that can absorb literally dozens of rockets before going down. It takes far more time to mop up the non-threatening mechs than it does to deal with the spiders, so your lasting impression will probably be one of busywork instead of genuine Armageddon.
The creature design is similarly lackluster, which is disappointing for a game in which giant monsters are the sole aesthetic selling point. Most of the boss battles are simply larger versions of enemies you’ve already defeated, and bipedal robots and fighter jets feel entirely out of place in a game called Insect Armageddon.
Couple all of that with an occasional sound glitch that makes the game virtually unplayable (imagine a hideous squelching noise that sounds like a whoopee cushion dying inside your television), and you have a budget title that still isn’t worth the $40 price of admission. I know that Insect Armageddon is supposed to be the sort of game that allows you to turn your brain off, but there are dozens of titles competing for that mind space and there are far better ways to spend the rest of your brief summer vacation.