Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon

When it was announced Vicious Cycle would be bringing us EDF: Insect Armageddon, an all-new installment to our beloved (and kinda stupid) series, we loyalists of EDF were cautiously excited. The original* EDF 2017 is a series of happy accidents. It’s a great game specifically in spite of itself. How could mere mortals hope to get that magic to work a second time? And on purpose?

As it turns out Vicious Cycle’s HQ is a short drive from my home. So, I took it upon all us EDF fans to drive down there, kick in their goddamn doors, and play the game for myself to see if they’re going to deliver the goods or totally screw us.

It’s hard to sell people on Earth Defense Force 2017. It’s a (barely) HD conversion of a budget PS2 title for the Xbox 360. Everything about it is cheap. Animations, models, textures, voice acting, everything: it looks like something they put together over a weekend on a dare with about ten bucks.

And yet EDF 2017 is fun. The gameplay is simple but addicting. Kill insurmountable waves of bugs, get loot, do it again with bigger explosions. Think of a tower defense game with hordes of bugs the size of buses, giant robots and Godzilla monsters, and motherships best measured in city blocks.

Also, there’s no towers.

Also you’ve got two guns from a potential list of over 170. Some of them are straight up machine guns and grenade launchers while others are homing missiles that move slower than you run. And they have nuclear warheads. And they can hit you.

It’s an acquired taste.

EDF 2017 enjoyed an intensely passionate cult following here in the States, yours truly among them. We’ve spent a good deal of time lamenting the impossibility of a sequel. We don’t want much, really. Just online play and the original’s rough edges smoothed over without losing its charm.

It’s a more difficult balancing act than it sounds. I mean, how often have we seen a beloved game get a sequel that completely misses the point? I’d say every Devil May Cry that’s not the original**, good games though at least one of those may be, falls squarely in that camp.

What if the impossible happened and we got a true EDF2017 sequel? More likely than not, they’d completely miss the mark if for no other reason than the publisher thinking their marketing department is worth listening to*** and thus demand a slew of changes to make it a “safer” investment with “wider” appeal. What if it was, y’know, like every other shooter? A manageable number of enemies on screen? Realistic weapons? Indestructible environments? A story?

It’d be like listening to a symphony being played just slightly out of tune.

I had a full afternoon with Insect Armageddon. This wasn’t a press demo. It was the game itself. In its raw form. Behind closed doors (they were closed again after I kicked them). Just me and good people at Vicious Cycle and the door repair guy.

Here are my unfiltered thoughts.


They got it. I’d read some interviews online where Vicious Cycle folks talked about being fans of the original and wanting to stay true to it. But, y’know, that’s exactly what you say when you’re trying to assuage fears of a rabid fan base. But, wow. Having talked to these guys one-on-one, having played their EDF with them, and talked about what was different and why, these guys get it.

I dare say the impossible happened twice for this game. Not only did we get a true EDF sequel, but exactly the right people were chosen to be its shepherds.

Everything they added or changed is an improvement. There. I said it. Some hardcore loyalists will balk at this or that, I’m sure, but they’re being overly nostalgic or unrealistic. For this game to have an honest chance at succeeding in the American console market of today, you could not possibly hope to release a carbon copy of EDF2017. Changes were going to happen. The end.

Here’s a short list of what did not change:

1. Huge swarms (press vids thus far fail utterly to show this)
2. 300+ weapons ranging from incredible to absurd
3. Constant claustrophobic horror from huge swarms.
4. Giant monsters with more HP than God to fight while also fighting the huge swarms.
5. Blow up every single building.
6. The humor. It’s intentional this time, but they didn’t go overboard with it.

Online multiplayer is amazing and, really, the way to play the game. And, yes, there’s still split screen co-op. Which I guess is the other way to play the game if your friends don’t all live in other states.

Insect Armageddon is right around the corner, July 5th here in ‘Merica and July 22nd in Europa. Pre-order that bastard if you haven’t already. It’s only $40 and it’s better than anything else coming this summer.

I can think of no higher praise for Vicious Cycle’s effort than this: Insect Armageddon is the game EDF2017 would have been were it made today with an actual budget.

*Yeah, I know it’s not the original, but it’s the original one we have on this side of the world so shut up.

**FUN FACT: Both EDF2017 and DMC1 have horrible voice acting that only enhances their appeal.

***No, they are not. You can have that one for free, Every Single Captain Of Industry.

****Weird. The blog takes out apostrophes when the entry goes live now. Confusing!