The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Earth Defense Force 2017 had clumsy animation, bizarre physics, and
chintzy-looking 2D power-ups…but it didn’t become a cult hit because of
its technical execution. It became a cult hit because it provided absurd
b-movie popcorn action that you could enjoy with your friends. Though
Insect Armageddon faces a different set of shortcomings, it nails the
The team at Vicious Cycle successfully taps into
the core of the EDF experience without simply imitating its predecessor.
Taking control of the three-man Lightning squad (your two teammates can
either be co-op partners or bots), you kill an invading army of bugs,
robots, and spaceships. The simple, point-and-shoot approach doesn’t
leave much room for tactical depth, but it creates a consistently fun
and frantic battlefield. Whether you’re using impractical weapons like
the Air Tortoise or tearing things up in the (much improved) vehicles,
the emphasis on trigger-happy chaos is a blast.
Adding variety to
the experience are four classes with unique special abilities and access
to different weapon categories. The basic gameplay remains the same,
but each class has a slightly different angle, like the jet armor’s
mobility and the tactical armor’s turrets. Gaining levels in each class
opens up more powerful weapons, and adds a sense of progression and
reward that was missing the last time around. Being able to advance
alongside your buddies in three-player online co-op (two-player split
screen locally) just adds to the fun, though I wish the six-player
survival mode also contributed to advancing your classes.
your ability to reach the highest levels and see the best gear is based
solely on replaying old stages. Grinding through the same missions to
eke out some extra XP is expected, and when you’re done, you’re supposed
to crank the difficulty up a notch and do it all over again to reach
higher levels. I can’t imagine why Insect Armageddon made improvements
in other areas only to leave this repetitive structure intact,
especially since there are only 15 missions comprised of a limited
handful of objectives (expect to activate a lot of self-destruct devices
on EDF landers). Other frustrations, like the lack of checkpoints and
no experience gain unless you finish a level, mean that Lightning
squad’s attempts to save Earth occasionally do more damage to your
patience than the invading aliens.
Insect Armageddon lacks the
clueless earnestness of the last entry and carries over some dated
concepts, but it fully captures the same breed of unapologetic
run-and-gun action. Ultimately, that’s what kept me playing EDF 2017 for
dozens of hours, and that’s why I’ve got dozens more in front of me
with Insect Armageddon.
Email the author Joe Juba, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.