Shoot the moon.
When the world is in trouble and a mad king is on the loose, who you gonna call to save the day? The Ghostbusters? Nah, those guys have been out of business for years. The Superfriends? They might have cool powers, but those spandex tights are sooo last century. So who's left? The Lionhearts, that's who.
Never hear of 'em? They're only the roughest, toughest band of...aw hell, never mind. They're a bunch of raving lunatics that shoot first and ask questions later. Or was it shoot first and not ask questions at all? Either way, this ragtag band of would-be heroes star in Armed and Dangerous, a third-person shooting gallery brought to you by LucasArts and Planet Moon.
You'll step into the boots of Roman, the leader of the Lionhearts. With partners in crime Q, a former Imperial Guard bot with a fondness for tea parties, Rexus, a blind, stinky seer and and Jonesy, a giant mole with an explosives fetish, you'll battle the orcish legions of King Forge and embark on a quest to retrieve the legendary Book of Rule.
If you ever played Giants: Citizen Kabuto, you've got a good idea of what to expect from A&D. Roman and company play exactly like the Meccs from Giants with a liberal serving of run and gun action. On some missions, Jonesy and Q serve as wingmen, watching your back and basically shooting anything that moves. You can also issue the two basic commands of "attack target area" and "guard me." But besides the comic relief during the cutscenes, Q and Jonesy aren't worth much in battle and you'll barely even notice they're there.
Part of the reason your partners aren't worth much is that you're more than well equipped to handle any situation. One, two, three hundred bad guys are no problem thanks to some hardcore hardware like the Vindaloo Rocket Launcher and Gurner Personal Mortar. More off-the-wall weapons include the Topsy Turvy Bomb, which flips the world upside-down and clears the area of enemies, the World's Smallest Black Hole, which sucks up enemies like a Hoover on high and my personal favorite (and possibly one of the best video game weapons of all time), the Land Shark Gun, which releases an actual baby land shark to devour your enemies.
Unfortunately, you won't really need to use all of these weapons because the standard Flemming Machinegun rocks the house. A high rate of fire, seemingly endless ammo and a wide target range make this standard gun almost too powerful. Add auto-aiming into the mix and you'll start bustin' some serious caps.
Controlling Roman is a lot easier on the mouse and keyboard combo of the PC version. The Xbox controller is just not as smooth and makes pinpoint aiming a bit tougher, though that auto-aim feature does help.
Missions generally consist of shooting stuff, blowing stuff up and destroying all manner of stuff in your path, but every once in a while you'll get to change things up a bit. Some missions require you to defend your position with a rail-mounted Gatling gun while hundreds of grunts stream your way. During these missions, I couldn't help but remember the battle for Helm's Deep from The Two Towers. It's exactly like that scene with all of the orcs and Uruk-Hai streaming in - just add a machine gun, subtract a Gandalf and you've got it.
The other mission type instructs you to rescue the downtrodden peasants of the land from King Forge's men. All you need to do is find the little buggers and return them to their homes (Note to self: Remember not to blow up their homes). Oddly, the peasants are dragged along behind you with an invisible rope. Go figure.
The graphics in A&D keep up with the action, but aren't particularly thrilling. Some nice explosions and plenty of rubble help convey the chaos adequately. The character models are fine and again, the environments are very similar to those found in Giants. Green fields, icy villages, seaside cliffs – it all looks decent enough, but is so blatantly reminiscent of Giants it at times makes the game feel derivative.
The sound is a high point. The voice-actors do a very good job of injecting plenty of personality into their characters and bringing the game to life, which is the best thing A&D has to offer. The game is stuffed with tongue-in-cheek comedy that guarantees to bring out some hearty chuckles. A couple very funny Star Wars references are a treat for Lucas nerds like yours truly.
As you progress through the world, you'll also discover precious artifacts, hidden treasures and other junk that will unlock some special features in the game like various cheats, a cutscene viewer and the ever-popular Big Head mode. A nice touch for sure, but it's nothing to write home about.
And while the game borrows liberally from Giants, it misses out on that game's creative multiplayer. Alas, this adventure is for one player only, which leaves something to be desired. At least it isn't as buggy as Giants.
Armed and Dangerous has some funny moments and wild weapons, but it still can't shake its straightforward gameplay. If you're in the mood to just blow things up with no strings attached, this is the game for you, but more discerning gamers might be left wanting a little more.