Lucasarts are known for publishing some quirky games over the years such as Sam and Max and Day of the Tenticle. Recently we've been deluged by Starwars games from them, no doubt due to the three new movies adding to the first trilogy of the series. However with Armed and Dangerous they have returned to their quirky game agenda and whilst it is an enjoyable and funny game, it's not without its problems.
The Lionhearts' friend Rexus, an old blind man, is wanted by the King of Forge to unlock an ancient book, a book which would give the King power over all the lands. To protect the book, Rexus performed a spell which turned it into an instruction guide for basket weaving, if the book is returned to its original format, the King will have control over the lands and this is your task, stop it happening. You play as the Lionhearts, some of the most misfit "heroes" ever featured in a video game. The team is made up of four, a robot, a human, a mole and someone else who teams up with you very early on in the storyline.
Armed and Dangerous is a third person shooter which has some squad elements. The other squad members are there with you along the way but it seems that throughout the entire game you only control the human character, Rome. The Lionhearts is their collective name and after Rexus is kidnapped from under their noses by the King, they set off to save the world, in a very humorous fashion. Most of the gameplay revolves around moving through different areas of the world shooting almost anything that moves and reaching a certain checkpoint. However sometimes you will have tasks such as destroying enemy bunkers or construction points and rescuing villagers which somewhat varies the gameplay, but as mentioned before the game is not without its problems.
The game features twenty one missions but unless you have a great deal of patience and can handle repetitive games then it is unlikely you will see this one through right until the end. The game starts off interesting and the first impression you may get is that the title is a unique take on the third person genre with some humorous elements, this we don't deny, however once you're a certain number of missions into the game they begin to suffer from repetition. you do visit the five different realms over the course of the game but the missions are somewhat the same each time. Something you did in the last realm, you may have to do again in exactly the same fashion. For instance rescuing villagers or defending the realms from the ongoing hordes, which appears to be a parody of the Battle of Helms Deep.
That's not to say everything about the game is bland and boring because it's not. There is some quite quirky humour featured and within a few missions you will be laughing frequently, especially during the cut scenes. A lot of the humour is somewhat revolved around British comedy, but that doesn't mean you have to be British to understand what is going on. There are some great parodies of famous movies in the game as well. Such as the parody of The Empire Strikes Back. In that movie an animal is cut open to keep Luke warm in the freezing cold, in Armed and Dangerous one of the characters alludes to this fact but then they actually stick the character up the animals rear end which leads it to wake up and charge off, Lionhearts in pursuit. You will also notice some classic lines such as "Prepare them for a full cavity search" to which Rexus replies "Our teeth are fine thank you". It's lines like this which somewhat maks up for the repetitive nature of the game.
The game contains four difficulty levels, two of which are locked at first. Obviously this increases the replay value if you want more of a challenge after completion, but the game isn't hard in the first place, except for a few key points in the storyline. The enemies you do encounter will run for cover if they feel they are in trouble but the main difficulty comes from the number of them, especially in the levels where you are controlling a turret gun. One feature which changes from higher to lower difficulty settings is the auto aim, which is only enabled on the lower difficulty levels. Having this as an independent option may have been better though, as it is really more of a personal preference. Cheats are also available.
The humour of the game is carried across to the weapons of the game such as the topsy turvy bomb which turns the world upside down, making all the enemies fall quite far and usually causing them die upon impact. By default you have a rifle but other weapons include a machine gun, sniper rifle, rocket launcher and mortar. You will also get mission specific objects at times such as bombs. Again continuing the British style humour, to get new items you have to visit a pub located somewhere in the level.
Some people may be disappointed with the visuals of the game and even though it doesn't show off the Xbox at its best, they still adequately provide a decent visual experience. There is no pop up to speak off and the draw distance is quite far, and the game does use ragdoll physics. This effect is best shown when either killing an enemy, or setting off a chain reaction of exploding barrels around the place. The models of the Lionhearts are quite detailed as are the villagers and enemies you encounter. Voice acting is done well and really brings across the British humour in the game. One thing that does confuse us with the game is the complete lack of multiplayer. Third person shooters usually make decent multiplayer games and the fact it hasn't got one really is a missed opportunity for the developers.
Armed and Dangerous will appeal to people looking for a number of laughs and an enjoyable time whilst playing games as well as the third person shooter fans. The unfortunate fact with this game is that it is highly repetitive and unfortunately that's not just limited to the gameplay, making it an even more enduring task to continue playing once you realise what the storyline is doing with the repetition of levels etc. It is a shame that the storyline wasn't fleshed out a bit more with unique levels as it would have made it a far better game but really, only the comedy saves this one from becoming an average title. Definitely one to rent first.
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