Genre : Action
Developer: Planet Moon Studios
Release Date: December 2, 2003
Third person shooters are a dime a dozen nowadays so it takes something really special, really innovative to set one apart from the crowd. LucasArts and Planet Moon attempt to do just that with their latest creation Armed and Dangerous. Using humor as the focus of the game rather than a gritty storyline they attempt to do something unique with the genre. Make no mistake about it this game is funny and has some very memorable moments. For a movie this would have been fine, but this is a game and as such requires not only and entertaining story, but great gameplay, graphics, and sound. Unfortunately, the repetitive gameplay and average graphics really hinder this from reaching greatness.
Armed and Dangerous follows the quest of a ragtag group of bandits called the Lionhearts and their quest to recover The Book of Rule from the evil ruler King Forge. In this motley crew of hoodlums you will meet Q a former robot in the King's elite guard who achieved self awareness and was summarily sent to be scrapped, Rexus a world famous seer who over the years has lost his ability to see and his memory along with his desire to bathe, Jonesy a moleman with an penchant for explosives, and Roman the leader of the group. You will play a Roman, but you will have some limited control over the others in the group. While they do fight along side you in battle their help is very minimal and they can sometimes get in the way. You can issue them very simple commands like cover me and stay in place, but these are very helpful. Sometimes they will run right by enemies without even firing. To put it bluntly the A.I. is terrible.
There is one benefit of your comrade's stupidity, there will be plenty of action for you. Action is what this game is all so if you like mindless shooting this ones for you. Essentially every mission is essentially the same, blow *&!@ up and stay alive while doing so. They may try to disguise the fact that every mission is the same by giving you some inane objective, but rest assured you will be blasting through countless enemies to get there. The enemy A.I. isn't much better than your allies so the game relies on sheer numbers to provide you a challenge. Most of the time they will simply stand still and fire at you, occasionally dodging behind rock to avoid you fire. There are tons of enemies though so you will have to take cover and use some strategy to survive. You will encounter even more enemies if they manage to set off an alarm which will send and infinite supply of enemies your way until the alarm is destroyed.
The mindless action does have some high points though. The weaponry is out of this world and fully of creativity. You have your standard rifle, machine gun, and sniper rifle of course, but that's just the beginning. There is also the Vindaloo Rocket Launcher. This launcher will fire two rockets (four if you find the upgrade) simultaneously at multiple enemies. This weapon is very useful in large combat situations. You can fire rockets at two separate groups of enemies an wipe out a large number at one time. Next is the Gurner Personal Mortar. This little baby really packs a whollop. It fires fairly quickly for being a mortar and can decimate groups of enemies with ease. Its blast radius is quite large so if you are even remotely accurate you can be sure your enemies will feel the pain. Its only real draw back is the small ammo capacity it holds, so use it sparingly. One of, if not the most devastating weapons in the game is Land Shark Gun. This weapn fires a baby shark into the earth that quickly grows to full size. They then burrow through the ground and attack your enemies from underneath. This is a truly impressive sight to see. Watching a shark come up through the earth and swallow a man whole is funnier than you might think. You can even fire multiple sharks if you want a feeding frenzy on your hands. Ammo for this gun is very limited so it should only be used in dire circumstances, but it will keep attacking while enemies are in the vicinity so its potency is well worth it.
There's more weaponry at your disposal than just firearms in A&D. You will also have plenty of secondary weapons to unleash on the forces of King Forge. The most common of these weapons is the sticky bombs. Much like the sticky grenades from Halo you can throw these at enemies and watch them run in terror as it sticks to their backs. This weapon can be both advantageous and disastrous. Once an enemy has one stuck to them they will run wildly about in panic. Sometimes they will run into a pack of enemies screaming for help thus taking out an entire group with them when they go. Other times they will charge at you though and can detonate right on top of you. Another weapon of not is the Topsy Turvy bomb. This little baby will flip the whole world upside down causing all the enemies to fly into the air. Then the world will flip back into perspective and all your enemies will come crashing down. The Guy Fawkes traitor bomb is sure to cause some laughs. While this device does no physical damage to enemies it will cause anyone hit by it to turn their guns against their allies. This is especially funny in large groups. One of the most imaginative weapons is the Knockout Bomb. When activated this weapon pulls all nearby enemies towards you in a line. One by one you will punch them back into oblivion. Just imagine the world's largest boxing glove helping you to pulverize enemies as they fly unwillingly at your fist. The last little magic trick up your selves is the World's Smallest Black Hole. This weapon is pretty self explanatory, just throw and run.
From a gameplay standpoint Armed and Dangerous is pretty shallow and the graphics are about the same. While the main characters are good enough the rest of the game is pretty bland. There isn't a good variety of enemies and they are only average graphically. The environments are all pretty boring and standard. They also become very repetitive and it doesn't seem like much planning went into them. One nice feature though is the almost completely destructive environments. The cutscenes are some of the worst I've seen in years. They are extremely grainy and almost no detail went into the backdrops. I really can't comprehend why this game was green lighted when there were so many areas that needed improvement. The weapon effects are probably the only area of real accolade because of their inventiveness and execution. It's a real shame that such inventive weaponry had to be used in such an average game.
The audio is more of the same ho hum variety as the gamplay and graphics. The sound effects really lack the punch you would expect from weapons of mass destruction. Blowing up buildings definitely leaves something to be desired in terms of sound. The music is also rather bland. Its basically a mix of military music from different time periods mish mashed together in a cacophony of sounds. You could say it gets the job done, but that's about all it does. One thing they definitely did right is the voice acting. These actors all give life to the rather bland characters and help tremendously to keep this game interesting. Each character overflows with personality and all have very humorous parts to play. In fact this game is funnier than most movies.
All in all Armed and Dangerous is just your average shooter. It doesn't really offer any innovation in the genre and the graphics and audio are rather plain. It is nice to see a game that uses humor as a focus of the story. It's been quite a while since I played a game this funny. If you are into mindless destruction, carnage, and humor this is a perfect game for you. There is also the downloadable content to keep this game fresh even after you beat it. It's not a very long game(10-15 hours) so the downloadable content is almost a necessity. It's definitely worth playing (get it "Worthplaying" :) just for the humor, unless you are really a fan of the genre you should probably just give it a rental.
Score : 7.5/10
More articles about Armed & Dangerous