Every so often, a game from a dying genre comes along and sparks up the market again, however for the PC Third Person Shooter market, this reality has yet to be fulfilled. Even with recent hits like Prince of Persia, it seems PC gamers are not overly frilled with the typically 'long view' style action game. Nevertheless, every so often you also get a game from a dying genre like the Third Person Shooter genre that, whilst does not reinvent, does win over many new fans and becomes somewhat of a success. Armed and Dangerous is attempting to do just this - provide a good experience for current and new fans in an effort to hopefully establish a reputable series. Does it succeed?
A & D is your typical Third Person Shooter, that is, it solely relies on the wonders of single player offline gaming. Perhaps this is why TPS games are not as successful as they once were, with the ever increasing presence of online gameplay, people might be starting to feel the A.I. of computer controlled players wearing thin. However, if this is the case, A & D is not to blame, as its A.I. is quite solid. Often in an action game like this, enemies are easy targets, with the challenge purely coming from the amount of them rather than their intelligence, however in A & D, they are both smart and in high quantity.
For instance, when firing on certain enemies, do not always expect them to stay still and hence becoming easy targets. Often they will run about, dodging and moving just like you are, and since there are usually plenty of targets due to their respawning barracks, this makes for challenging intense action. In fact, if you leave their respawning barracks unharmed, the chain of enemies is seemingly never ending, which is why it is often a wise idea to make the barracks your primary target.
With this said, spawning barracks are not the only destructible structure in the game, in fact every building other than the pubs, which are friendly re-arming stations, can be damaged one way or another. This isn't just in for special effects either, if enemies are sniping or just camping in a building, taking it down will also often take them down, and in true arcade action style, almost every weapon included is capable of destroying buildings in spectacular fashion. This is not to say the weapons are not specialised however, as many of the unique weapons found in A & D are very situation dependant - from the humble sniper rifle to the "Sharkgun", which shoots a shark into the ground, swimming around attacking any near by enemies. There is no doubting that A & D has some of the most unique weapons ever seen in a TPS on the PC.
It is not usual that a game makes me laugh for the right reason, but A & D managed to do just that on more than one occasion. The classic characters are almost enough to make you smirk from their appearance let alone with an attitude and english accent to match - I mean, how can you not like a giant metal skeleton that drinks tea? Other than the great characters, the cut scenes are also usually humor based with an assortment of proven material (like the French in war, for example). I guess if you come into the game expecting to laugh you may be disappointed, but I'm sure most gamers will enjoy the game's somewhat unserious nature.
Navigation is also a strong point of A & D's. Although the levels are primarily linear with only one path to completion, this hasn't stopped some games in the past from continuously getting the player lost when trying to find the next objective. A & D features a very simple navigation system which clearly identifies your next objectives and targets - whether it is visually displayed on the screen or explained well in the objective menu, you will not get frustrated running around in circles in this game.
Unfortunately though, there is always a drawback, and for A & D, it is the fact that gameplay becomes very repetitive pretty quickly into the game. Even with lots of cool weapons and enemies, you are essentially doing the same thing through very linear levels for purposes that are not very clear. If you tire from repetitive gameplay quickly then A & D will more than likely fail to excite you - if you are not specifically keen on going through all 21 missions to finish it then you probably won't make it past level 10 before succumbing to complete boredom.
The controls don't help this issue, either. Whilst I'll admit that controls in a TPS have never really been as easy and powerful as your typical FPS, A & D's control systems is slightly lacking behind expectation. Often it is hard to move precisely in environments which do not allow for errors, for example, near a cliff face, which means you have to be particularly careful just walking about in those areas let alone shooting and walking. Another problem stemming from the control imprecision is the aiming - it is hard to hit your target without shooting half your clip elsewhere from any distance really, but more specifically at mid to longer distances. For some reason, it feels like your aiming with a Playstation 2's analog stick, and not a mouse.
Graphics wise A & D doesn't really impress or disappoint, it is pretty much what you would expect from a TPS in this day and age. The unserious nature of the game suggests that the somewhat cartoony visuals are deliberate, which does help to create a presence of humor, so what some people may call low quality graphics is really more highly tailored graphics for the atmosphere it tries to create. Other than that, technical aspects like texture quality and frame rate seemed to also be pretty much as expected, which is exactly how it should be, as I imagine A & D runs fine on almost any mid range system on the market today.
Armed and Dangerous will not appeal to every PC gamer, its style is not completely original but it is certainly a successful product from a dying genre for the PC. With the few negatives like the somewhat awkward controls and the repetition aside, anyone looking for a few laughs, some action and more importantly, some great fun will find Armed And Dangerous enjoyable. Don't take it too seriously however because it doesn't take itself very seriously.
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