STAFF REVIEW of Armed and Dangerous (Xbox)

Monday, December 22, 2003.
by Tony Ingrassia

Armed and Dangerous Box art Armed and Dangerous is a fast paced, non stop, run and gun action game with a heaping helping of humor and wise cracking characters that will without a doubt bring a smile to your face. Loaded with some of the most ?Unique? weapons you have ever seen in a video game, and spread across some diverse and interesting terrain with an even more interesting group of adversaries. Does Planet Moons explosive, smack talking? group of oddballs deliver the goods? A & R isn?t a super complicated game; simply put it?s an insane shooter.

You are part of a rag tag group of characters known as the Lionhearts. Led by Roman a clever and cocky jack-of-all-trades, Jonesy the explosives expert and human sized mole, ?Q? who was at one time one of the king?s robot guards, and Rexus the absent minded, blind seer.

The story revolves around King Forge?s quest to unlock the powerful ?Book of Rule?. The book was locked many years ago by your truly, Rexus, and the King feels he is the one to unlock it for him, so he places a bounty on Rexus and the Lionhearts. From hear on out your presented with goals and tasks that range from saving your fellow members to defending the castle from hoards of enemies from a turret.

Now the real fun of A & R is the frenetic pace at which you work your way through challenges, everything in this game is destructible, buildings, towers, bridges, etc? Starting with just a rifle and quickly gaining other ammunition of sorts you find yourself in the middle of an ocean of enemies, literally surrounding you at every turn. The pace is fast and some may feel it has the pitfalls of seeming repetitive, but the developers did a fantastic job balancing this game out with just the right amount of upgrades, health packs, and explosives to suck you into this game for the long haul. With just about every enemy taken down your rewarded with some sort of goody, so your able to keep up with the pace without feeling overwhelmed.

The weapons and capabilities available are also a huge part of a well-designed package. From the comical ?Topsy Turvy? bomb, resembling a giant cork screw that you screw into the ground, and when activated turns the world upside down, and if your not holding on to something you fall ?UP? into the sky, and then after a few seconds the bomb returns your surroundings to normal plummeting your enemies to the ground and their demise. Just as unique as our little bomb is the Land Shark Gun, this little trinket shoots out baby land sharks that grow to full size within seconds and attack the target in a gruesome way, not to mention, in true shark fashion, if there are any other ?Shark Snacks? near by your little razor toothed friend will continue devouring enemies. Along with these unique weapons you also have an assortment of other bombs like Sticky Bombs, Knockout Bombs, and the worlds smallest Black Hole. Other goodies along the way are the ability to commandeer turrets such as Forge Cannons and Stig Machine Guns, helping you mow down the waves of enemies that you will encounter.

As you complete your goals you are allowed to shop in the pubs where you can purchase other weaponry and such, and believe it or not there is a method to this madness, yes you can just gun your way without thinking, but you are scored on peasants saved as well as for enemies vanquished, not to mention any head shots you may pull off, but your also penalized for destroying civilian homes as well as the innocent villagers you come across. Your score is awarded by raising the bounty on your head and this ?odd? scoring method leads me into what I believe makes this game the little gold mine that it is?the humor.

It seems that in a sea of ?Heavy? games built around strategy and stealth, serious challenges such as saving hostages and intense murder mystery, there have been a handful of games delivering some light hearted well overdue humor, I mean isn?t it supposed to be entertaining as well as challenging? Well the gang at Planet Moon must have hired some of the best comedy writers available because if you don?t chuckle at some of the one-liners and wise cracks your not normal. That being said, if there were ever an award for the funniest scene in a game, the obvious satire on a memorable Star Wars scene is priceless. Planet Moon doesn?t back off Lucas Arts at all in this game poking fun at characters from the Star Wars universe every chance it gets, and kudos to Lucas Arts having the common sense to laugh at itself and not making Planet Moon edit their content.

No, Armed and Dangerous isn?t going to be a critically acclaimed work of gaming history, but as far as I?m concerned it?s one of the best gaming experiences that doesn?t depend on graphic eye candy or gimmicks, it?s just a down and dirty shooter that will keep you entertained and in stitches for some time.

As I said, A & D isn?t a graphical juggernaut; actually it?s kind of average at best by today?s standards. Although the environments are nicely laid out and interesting, it offers nothing earth shattering, even the cut scenes show some ungodly pixilation during the game. I have to admit though that with all of the intense action during gamplay the frame rate doesn?t falter, so as unimpressive as the graphics are they really don?t take away from the overall experience.

In the sound department I find myself splitting it into two categories, sound effects, such as weapons firing, explosions, and ambient effects like ticking from a bomb to be more than adequate. The second category would have to be the dialogue and script, I know I?m sounding repetitive, but the wise cracks and comments from enemies and villagers alike are immensely entertaining and just plain funny. The score has a ?Braveheart? feel to it that really sets the mood and theme of the game very well. In game Dolby Digital rounds off the audio experience of A & R.

I think Planet Moon did a great job of taking a genre that could become repetitive and dull, and whip it up into a non-stop fun fest. Crank up the visuals a bit for the sequel, and add some form of co-op or multiplayer mode, it seems a give in when having a ?Group? to lead around. All in all it?s big fun and you should give it a look if for nothing else one scene that I will never forget.

Overall: 9.2 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 9.6 / 10


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