Planet Moon Studios is probably not one of the most famous game developers around. Their first published title Giants: Citizen Kabuto was one of those games with lots of original content, but that didn't seem to have been noticed by many. Armed and Dangerous features the same action packed gameplay as Giants, only this time it’s more polished, and has a nice finishing touch.
The game takes place in the world of Milola. A band of thieves, known as the Lionhearts, has a plan to pull off the “ultimate heist”. The player controls the Lionhearts' leader Roman. On his quest, Roman is accompanied by the robot Q (the biggest tea this world has ever seen), the mole Jonesy, and the rather strange character Rexus (a stinky little fella). Basically in-game you control only Roman, whereas your accomplices are controlled by AI. I wouldn’t say they are very useful at most times, but they are definitely funny, and provide good backup at other times. The game starts out with the explanation of the story; The Book of Rule is a powerful object of magical power that will bring an end to the war in Milola caused by the evil king Forge. The Lionhearts decide that their “ultimate heist” is the theft of this object.
From the beginning to the end of the game, the player goes through different levels fighting against the king’s army to gain control of the Book of Rule. Armed and Dangerous has 21 levels and 3 bonus missions that can be unlocked as the game progresses. More and more advanced weapons can be used in the later stages, and different game types are proposed to the player. There are the typical assault/rescue missions, missions where the player needs to defend a base with a turret mounted on a wall, and missions where Roman gets to use a jumper pack. These turret missions seem to be quite hard, but there is nothing more satisfying then gunning down literally hundreds of enemies. The mission objectives are varied in themselves. Add to that the surroundings that accompany the levels; they progress from a cold north to warmer and lusher environments. There are also some neat surprises on the way.
All this goes along with a number of peculiar and crazy weapons, such as: the shark gun (shooting out a small shark which grows within a matter of seconds and attacks the enemy from underground), or the world’s smallest black hole (which not so surprisingly, is a small deployable black hole in a cardboard box – although I still wonder why it doesn’t suck the cardboard in), and of course the Topsy-Turvy device - which turns the world upside down (in other words there is nothing more fun than watching these weapons in action). These weapons are complemented by more ordinary weapons, such as the machine gun and the sniper rifle. To have the most fun in the game it's important to try to use as many of the weapons as possible - not only does it make the game easier. but it also gives the rather straightforward action a bit more depth, and of course satisfaction.
That brings me to a key factor in this game: action. Let me say that again, a-c-t-i-o-n. Armed and Dangerous is jam-packed with action. However, the game also requires a little bit of thinking (And when I say little, I really do mean little). The thinking that is involved, is mostly finding a way to use scenery as a weapon. For example you can shoot barrels full of some explosive matter to create havoc, which will destroy all enemies - or sometimes blocks of stones can be shot at, making them roll down the hill where they were lying, crushing everything in their path (enemies included). Similar other objects make life easier. Using these aids is not crucial when playing on easy or normal difficulty modes, but once tougher modes (such as “over the top” or “insane”) are unlocked, those strategies prove to be more than useful. And even on the easier difficulty modes, in the more difficult levels, you just won’t survive for a long time if you will rush and try to kill everyone without thinking. Sometimes you need to take a more strategic approach rather than the old good “hit and run” or “run and gun” tactics. To make things a little easier, cheats can also be unlocked during the course of the game.
The enemies that the Lionhearts encounter vary from dumb to more or less smart. What i didn’t like about the enemies is that sometimes they can shoot you from really far distances ( even in the fog ). In the end, the amount of enemies you kill is so large, that their AI doesn’t really matter. The enemies spawn from barracks or just out of nowhere, and the only way to stop them from coming is by destroying these barracks or alarms placed in the levels.
The game uses the “Amityville II” engine, in short an upgraded form of the old Giants engine. It’s an outdoor environment engine, so don’t expect any indoor missions. The good thing about this engine is that it allows destruction of the environments: buildings, trees, walls and everything that is not made up of ground. But most of all, it's the humorous cut scenes and the story of the game that make you want to keep playing. Star Wars fans can look forward to a lot of funny references made to the famous movies, something I’m sure most people will enjoy. The game comprises of different environments, generally good looking and well thought out.
The sounds together with the humor are probably the most appealing part of the game. The voice acting is varied and fits the characters very well. It is not rare to hear enemy grunts shout out in agony when you kill them, or even villagers commenting on the weather. This aspect greatly adds to the humorous side of the game.
The soundtrack, which is a mix of Scottish folk music and heroic action tunes, changes with the action. It is actually very well composed and fits the game very well.
The game does not include a multiplayer option - this is a bit unfortunate, since some sort of multiplayer or a co-op mode would have been a great touch to the game, and would also have prolonged the gaming experience. Maybe something for the developers to include in their next game. ;)
Armed and Dangerous is without a doubt one of the funniest games to come out last year. Its distinct humor is an asset nurtured to perfection by Planet Moon. Sometimes linear action is fully made up for with great humor and excellent voice acting. If you like either action or humor, A&D is almost certainly something for you to check out. My opinion is nicely expressed by one of the game characters himself, so like Q puts it; “It almost looks like a video game... a bloody good one.”