- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 9, 2011

While enjoying Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon (D3 Publisher and Vicious Cycle Software, reviewed for Xbox 360, rated: Teen, $39.99), I’m reminded of the musings of a Buenos Aires survivor from the cult classic movie “Starship Troopers:” “The only good bug is a dead bug.”

His wisdom carries throughout this third-person shooter sequel that takes a player on a desperate adventure to stop an invasion of Earth, specifically the city of New Detroit, by insectoid and extraterrestrial forces.

Other than taking down giant robots, the majority of an EDF’s Strike Force Lightning’s soldier’s firefights involve blasting away at a host of gigantic bugs plucked from a 1950s sci-fi movie.

A player chooses from four types of soldiers — Battle (heavy-duty armor and weapons), Jet (speedy hover and flight capability with energy weapons), Tactical (light armor and use of deployable weapons such as mines) and Trooper (medium-strength armor for maximum mobility and access to standard weaponry such as sniper rifles and rocket launchers) — before embarking on 15 missions.

I was partial to the Battle configuration. Although lumbering along in the heavy armor was a minus when swarmed by ticks, I could use an energy shield to fry bugs, attack with a massive shotgun unloading metal darts or pull out the big stuff and unload a battery of missiles.

A player wanders through destructible environments with other squad mates ready to shoot, reload, shoot and reload liberally to destroy hostiles and watch them dissolve back into the ground.

Amid the shooting, I also may need to use a mine to blow up an anthill or find a rocket launcher to take out airborne gunships, drive a tank, navigate in a bipedal mech walker or get behind a standing plasma turret.

No matter, I am still out to quickly stave off attacks by giant, acid-spewing black ants, ticks, in-flight wasps and multistory wolf spiders using weapons such as shotguns, sniper rifles and assault rifles.

Collect enough credits, and survive, to upgrade firepower with 300 weapons eventually available. You’ll need the might as the action continues to get more frenzied through each mission.

Although the solo campaign will leave fingers cramped and hearts pounding at the number of enemies that require exterminating (a solo Survival mode is near impossible), multiplayer options really make this game a winner.

Specifically, look for a split-screen, co-operative mode for a pair of warriors or the online component that comes in two flavors.

Up to three players can form a team to play through campaign levels, or up to six warriors can band together to stop waves of enemies in the daunting Survivor mode.

Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon builds beautifully on the original game’s premise and brings the stress-relieving fun back into the often too mature and complex shooter genre of video games.

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