Opinion - Scorsese and Coppola Vs. the MCU: Are we focusing on the wrong argument?
October 25, 2019
Nuking The Cat
Last Refuge of the Sensible Nerd
Free Pizza Video Game Review - Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon
March 7, 2018
Early in the history of the website, we set out to have a section on video games. Given that our last video game review was back in 2015, well, I think we can all see the magnitude of that epic fail. See, the pitfall of game reviews is that the review needs to have the time to go through the game in its entirety…looking for gems and flaws.
But who among us in our 30s and 40s has the damn time to go through an entire game anymore?
Maybe it’s kids, maybe it’s a bullshit job…hell, it’s all kinds of reasons…and it happens to us here at the Cat too. [Although we’re the column B sort. – Ed.] So, it took us a while, but we finally figured out how to crack this nut and it all boils down to this seemingly unrelated question:
Remember back when Domino’s would promise their pizza delivery in 30 minutes or less?
Well, that’s what we’re gonna do here. We’re gonna give a video game half an hour…if I bail before that half hour’s up, then the game pays for its pizza…meaning we don’t recommend it. But if it keeps my attention for more than that, its pizza is free. [That means we recommend it, because we seriously do not have the cash to be sending out free pizzas. – Ed.]
To start off, we’re looking at what is likely to be a widely overlooked gem: Earth Defense Force – Insect Armageddon.
You see, lately, I’ve been binge watching Classic Game Room (either via Lord Karnage’s channel on YouTube or Classic Game Room on Amazon Prime) and the host, Mark Bussler, is a HUGE fan of the franchise this game belongs to…one that, prior to watching his reviews, I’d never even heard of. With that kind of bombardment of praise, I had to track down at least one of them to find out what his ravings were all about. Insect Armageddon for the Xbox 360 was the first one I found, which I would later come to find out is the second of a trilogy of games released on the 360, the first being Earth Defense Force 2017 and the third being Earth Defense Force 2025. [Don’t you love it when games made in the 2000’s considered 2017 the far flung future? – Ed.] This game, as well as the follow-up, 2025, are also available on the Playstation 3. Enough blathering though…is this game as good as CGR suggests? Or is this another instance of overhyping? Let’s press start and find out.
Although it’s the second game in the series, it doesn’t take long to figure out what’s going on. Aliens are invading and using every possible weapon in just about every sci-fi trope that you can think of. Giant insects? Check. Giant robots? Check. UFOs? Check. I’m sure there are more, but I only got through the first few levels. To repel these invaders you have, well, the Earth Defense Force…and it’s comprised of 4 different playable classes. The basic Trooper is…uh…exactly that, your standard grunt. He’s armed with a machine gun and a missile launcher. The Jet Trooper has a jetpack [Duh. – Ed.] and more futuristic weapons…I guess you’d call one a ‘blaster’ and the other an ion burst or something? One important thing to keep in mind here is that the weapons are tied into the energy for the jetpack and as such, if you overheat your pack, you won’t be able to fire or reload your weapons until it cools down first. This one, so far, has proven to be my favorite. Even if you don’t take to the skies, the jet trooper is easily the most maneuverable of the classes, so if you’re big into the ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’ philosophy [Most people call it ‘hit and run’. – Ed.], this is your guy. However, if you’re more of a stand-your-ground shitkicker, then you’re gonna go for the Heavy Trooper…and I can’t say I blame you. Surrounded in a mechanical exosuit (kinda like the ones in Transformers: The Movie, only grungier, a bit more armed and non-transforming), the Heavy carries a shotgun that equals death. In close and medium range, it’s one shot, one kill…and incredibly satisfying. For long range, you’ll want to switch over to your to your rockets which, to be fair, I didn’t get a real good feeling for…but that was more due to the fact that I was trying to fight fast moving gunships while in the slowest-moving character type. The last type of Trooper is the Tactical one…and I haven’t played as this one yet…simply because when compared to the other three types, this one looks lame as hell. Sure, my opinion may change after playing as him, but given that he doesn’t seem to be much more than the basic grunt, only with the ability to deploy mobile turrets…well, again, lame. I like personally wiping out bugs…not having some computer controlled stationary mechanical minions doing it for me.
Since my copy didn’t come with an instruction booklet and, unlike most games these days, the first levels don’t focus on tutorials, I was happy to find that the controls are very similar to many first or third person shooters of this nature. On the 360 controller, X reloads (and there is a minigame to reloading, much like Gears of War, where if you hit the white line in the middle, you reload faster), B switches weapons, A jumps and Y is your action button. Right trigger shoots, right and left buttons are to dodge right and left respectively. The left trigger is for special moves…for example, this is what you press to take to the skies as the Jet Trooper. I didn’t find that out until my second time playing the game! Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be any zoom feature (like pulling the left trigger in Star Wars Battlefront, for example)…which I would’ve really like to have had here, but at the same time, the game is set up in such a way where being able to keep your distance is going to be next to impossible…what, with wave after wave after wave of giant ants coming for you.
You'll notice I haven't said anything about running out of ammo and finding yourself at the mercy of the bugs. Well, that's because it's not an issue! While you do have to break to reload...you don't have to worry about ever running out of bullets, missiles, whatever. Ammo is unlimited! It's the least the developers could do because believe me, you'll be at the mercy of the bugs for all sorts of other reasons!
In doing a little bit of research, this particular entry in the series stands out on its own for a couple of reasons. First, the bulk of the series is developed by a company called Sandlot…whereas this particular entry was developed by Vicious Cycle, who developed Robotech Battlecry for the PS2, Xbox and GameCube. And I gotta admit, handling the Jet Trooper sure did feel a LOT like the Battloid mode on the Veritech! Vicious Cycle, it seems from what reviews I’ve watched and read, opted for a more serious tone for the game, whereas the other entries have a bit more humor and tongue-in-cheek moments and set-ups. Thus, in some ways, this feels like the perfect blend of Star Wars Battlefront and Starship Troopers with a dash of humor or satire, but still gritty and serious enough for the Battlefield, Call of Duty and Gears of War folks that take themselves WAAAAAAAY too seriously to have fun with as well. Me personally? I can’t wait to see what the cheesier entries in the series have to offer.
One last thing...for those of you interested, there is indeed multiplayer. You can either opt for split screen with a buddy in the same room, or there are Survival matches and co-op missions online.
So, do the pros over at Classic Game Room oversell this one? Nope. I also found myself chanting “EDF! EDF!” at the top of my lungs during gameplay, proud to have finally joined the ranks of the ‘fighters of space bees’. And then I proceeded to hunt down the other three games available for the 360. All of ‘em end up being right around $15…you can get the first 2 used for that price while the third, 2025, I actually snagged off of Amazon new for that same amount. Still, fun as it might be, the key to these reviews is time…did it keep my attention? Did I want to keep playing? Is this a 30 minutes or less flash in the pan?
Playing time: 49 minutes. The only reason I stopped was because I was starting to get hungry and had to cook up some chow. Once fed, I resumed play…but we gotta go with the initial stoppage.
So congratulations Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon…your pizza is FREE.
Sure, it sounds like a simple game but there’s a charm in that simplicity. On top of that, with the variations of things to kill or explode or sci-fi tropes to exploit, it never gets old as you constantly wonder what these damn aliens are going to throw at you next. Like I said above, this entry was strong enough to make me hunt down the other two games. Well, that and the consistent coaxing of some drunken fool back in Pittsburgh. For more serious gamers, if you’re going to jump into the series, this is probably your best starting and stopping point. But come on, mowing down giant insects? How can you not like this?