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Critical Reception: D3's Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Vicious Cycle's Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon, which reviewers describe as "a blissfully mindless fire-and-forget shooting gallery."
This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Vicious Cycle's third-person shooter Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon, which reviewers describe as "a blissfully mindless fire-and-forget shooting gallery." Insect Armageddon currently earns a score of 77 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. Game Informer's Joe Juba scores Insect Armageddon at 8 out of 10. "[Insect Armageddon predecessor] 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," he explains. "It became a cult hit because it provided absurd b-movie popcorn action that you could enjoy with your friends." "The team at Vicious Cycle successfully taps into the core of the EDF experience without simply imitating its predecessor," Juba continues. "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." Multiplayer again proves to be a key component for the series. "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," Juba notes. "Being able to advance alongside your buddies in three-player online co-op (two-player split screen locally) just adds to the fun." "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," Juba praises. "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." Cameron Lewis at Official Xbox Magazine gives Insect Armageddon a 6.5 out of 10. "Insect Armageddon's third-person killing spree doesn't offer much in the way of cutting-edge graphics or varied mission structure," he warns, "but its single-minded arcade simplicity is also its greatest strength." "Objectives always boil down to 'kill 'em all' and 'blow up the source,' so the part of your brain that worries about basic strategy can take a nap," Lewis notes. "Similarly, the buildings of New Detroit disintegrate in showers of vaporized masonry if you sneeze nearby, so you needn't waste time cowering behind cover. About the only respite your trigger finger gets is the occasional panicked sprint for a med kit or to revive a fallen teammate." Lewis finds that the gameplay gains needed variety in the sequel. "As amusing as its more primitive predecessor could be, its sheer repetitiveness made it palatable only in small doses," he recalls. "Insect Armageddon, on the other hand, offers four different classes of armor, and each earns a separate series of tiered upgrades. Troopers are well-rounded grunts, while Battle thugs lumber about with the heaviest artillery." "If you're looking for tactical depth, environmental variety, or anything resembling a story, you'll be left wanting," Lewis says. "But if you're in the mood for a blissfully mindless fire-and-forget shooting gallery, you could do a whole lot worse." Eurogamer's Christian Donlan rates Insect Armageddon at 8 out of 10. "EDF's previous installments were made by the Japanese developer Sandlot, but Insect Armageddon moves the production -- and the location of the ant-killing -- to the US," he notes. "I was a little worried, frankly, about how well the ants would travel. Would an American developer like Vicious Cycle pile on the cheese a little too knowingly and damage the B movie earnestness of the original games?" "Luckily, none of this has happened," Donlan assures. "It's ant-killing as usual, and all the new developers have really done to mix things up is opt for fewer, longer missions, and a little bit more in the way of internal structure." EDF's single-mindedness stands in stark contrast with its contemporaries. "EDF isn't afraid to let the player cause chaos on their own terms," Donlan writes. "It doesn't really care if you sit down quietly and play through the story the developers have already prepared for you, or if you just jab away at the buttons absent-mindedly while you're on the phone to the bank. It isn't bothered if you're not looking the right way during set-pieces, because there are no real set-pieces. You can even remix the entire campaign to keep things fresh: I'm not sure Naughty Dog will ever let you do that." "I think you're going to love Insect Armageddon, then, but you may love it very fiercely for a fairly short space of time," Donlan concludes." This is a smart discount blaster to dive into for a few hours every few months, and to have nearby whenever you get bored of more complex entertainments that come with characters and plot twists and levels that aren't all largely interchangeable. It's basic stuff, its frame-rate can stutter, and it's got a handful of minor -- ha! -- bugs, but if you're looking for a source of guilt-free insect murder over the next few weeks, this is the best show in town. Just ask the ants."

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