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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

LucasArts

 

Developer

Planet Moon Studios

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 2003

 

 

- Great humor and characters

- Some good action

- Level design and architecture is cool

- Base defend missions offer more entertainment than you might think

- Concentrated single-player story

- Some extras

 

 

- Compressed video for cutscenes

- No action figure tie-in

 

 

Giants: Citizen Kabuto (PC)

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (PC)

Heavy Metal FAKK 2 (PC)

 

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Armed and Dangerous

Score: 8.5 / 10

 

It’s hard to write an objective review of Armed and Dangerous (AAD), because if there was ever a game that seemed to be made for me – and people like me – AAD is that game.  Lots of action, some glib humor, and familiarity that says, “Welcome Back!” without seeming tired.

 

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The game that will forever be attached to Planet Moon is Giants: Citizen Kabuto, a madcap title from couple of years ago that featured a nearly-naked and very deadly Sea Reaper, a trio of crash-landed aliens, and the aforementioned Kabuto.  AAD doesn’t deviate far from the same action-laden environments; in fact, it borrows many elements (including the familiar control style) from Giants that maybe they share the same timeline. (Indeed, with the reference to a Majorcan prophecy, maybe they do...)

 

In the case of AAD, you play as Roman, leader of a group of outlaws called The Lionhearts that set out to steal the all-powerful Book of Rule.  To do so they must overcome an army of grunts, the likes of which were last seen in the Lord of the Rings.  Against such a hostile force, one should expect a wicked arsenal and when Planet Moon is behind the project, you get a wicked arsenal that manages to be totally fun to use.

 

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Although Roman’s mainstay is the useful machine gun there is also the Land Shark Gun, the Personal Motar, a sniper rifle, the Vindaloo Rocket Launcher and the infinite-ammo Hawkings’ Rifle.  The arsenal is further augmented with a variety of bombs including the much talked-about Topsy Turvey Bomb and the crowd-clearing World’s Smallest Black Hole.  They’re all very fun to use but sometimes they’re not enough to staunch the horde – Roman is able to man a few different turrets.

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The action is really broken into two parts: third person action and first-person base defend missions.  Base defense sticks Roman in a bubble-like turret mounted on a track on top of a wall as enemies wash toward him, reminiscent of the Helm’s Deep battle in Lord of the Rings: Two Towers.  Roman’s task, is to drive them back.  Later in the game the action is almost unmanageable with your attention pulled 7 or 8 different directions.  Some have pointed to the base defend missions as too repetitive and boring.  Like any other review it’s a personal bias – I loved those sections of the game.  Which is not to say that the third-person missions, which include rescuing a sheep, ensuring the safety of hapless villagers, killing snipers and clearing out enemy occupations (watch those buildings explode!), didn’t enthrall me.

 

Most of the missions are difficult enough to offer a challenge without being frustrating. (Having a “save anywhere” function helps, too.)  If you’re having trouble completing a mission it’s probably because you’re funneling your imagination – to go only “this” way – or because you’re trying to be stealthy and conserve ammo.  AAD is no stealth game.  Ammo is plentiful, use it!  Besides scoring “dropped” ammo from fallen foes, most levels have a Pub where you can refill ammo, pick-up new weapons and top-up your team’s health – provided you can keep your wingers (the giant robot, Q, and mole miner, Jonesy) alive that long.

 

Throughout the game, you’re accompanied by Q and Jonesy for some extra firepower.  You have very little control over them.  Roman can tell them to Return, Attack and Guard but 90% of the time Roman will wind up helping them.  There were only a handful of times that I finished a level with either Jonesy or Q.  Thankfully, Planet Moon didn’t make it mandatory for Jonesy and Q to survive – they’re still there for the hilarious cutscenes.

 

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Like Giants before it, AAD is a funny game thanks in large part to the personalities of the characters.  The collected cutscenes are funnier 100 times over than an episode of Friends and on par with Monty Python for being off-kilter as the story unfolds.  However the cutscenes get a few marks off for playing in a small window.  Instead of a taking the entire screen, each one is enclosed in an annoying black border.  (This can clearly be traced back to the fact Planet Moon used the Xbox as the lead platform for AAD’s development, which means a lower resolution.  I think.) However, once you get over the (slight) disappointment, you’ll just enjoy the cutscenes instead of lamenting their restricted dimensions.

 

There are a few other aspects that could be considered weaknesses: no multiplayer, linearity, and low replay factor.  If those things are make or break aspects for you, you might be disappointed with AAD.  However, you should probably reconsider.  The multiplayer is not missed, the mission objectives aren’t as linear as you might think, and I can think of no better way to cap off the day with 10 minutes in a base defend mission.

 

Armed and Dangerous is fun, packed with action and personality.  But don’t take my word for it – play it!

 

- Omni

(January 13, 2004)

 

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