It's the first level. You're waist-deep in giant ant carcass. A tick the size of a beanbag is sucking the spine out of your back through a straw. A laser-spewing robot is peering out at you over the top of a nearby skyscraper.
Credit where it's due: no other shooter does 'panic' quite as well as Earth Defense Force.
Since they can't blow you away with carefully-managed set-pieces, the EDF take a different path to glory; they hurl hundreds of enemies at you and arm you with cannons capable of taking down a building with one shot. Go ahead - make your own damned set-pieces!
The result is chaotic and messy but never less than utterly exhilarating. The framerate has a tendency to slow down and jutter when a few too many ants/spiders/wasp things/robots appear on screen at the same time, but things get so intense in the middle of combat that this pretty much counts as a blessing.
This particular instalment comes with a few caveats, though. EDF fans have been vocally uneasy at the idea of an American studio taking over the reigns from original devs Sandlot, and their fears haven't been totally unfounded.
Armageddon is a browner, uglier and poorer designed version of EDF 2017 (an Xbox 360 exclusive). That's not to say Insect Armageddon gets it all wrong, but at its manic peak EDF 2017 hits highs that Insect Armageddon can only imagine.
That said, the new active reload system (think Gears of War) is a good fit for EDF's breakneck gameplay style and the three-player online multiplayer - absent in 2017 - is a cracking addition, even if it comes at the expense of local player.
More importantly than that, Vicious Cycle does get what EDF is about. Panic. On the final level, you're re-acquainted with your robotic chum from the first level. He comes up to the knee of the two robots standing aside him. Panic
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Thrilling, non-stop action for those who can overlook a few technical woes.
- Fun co-op
- Fast, frantic action
- B-movie cheese
- Not technically sound