Like I said in my last review, the original Xbox had a lot of hidden gems that are overlooked by the modern gamer. While Voodoo Vince might have been a decent experience, it was most of the time forgettable. This next game however is well known among older gamers for its personality and arcade-style gameplay. This game probably has more personality than many shooters these days. Sure, Call of Duty might have Hollywood-style action scenes, but does it have a robot that can produce a hot cup of tea? Battlefield might have massive multiplayer battles, but does it have a gun that shoots land sharks? What about a mole man voiced by Jeff Bennet? How about a villain voiced by Tony Jay? And if that isn’t enough to convince you how awesome this game is, what if it was developed by ex-Shiny Entertainment people? Well then, combine all of those wacky and fun elements and you get one of the best games for the system, Armed and Dangerous!
Let us get started then. The story revolves around three rebel soldiers known as the Lion Hearts. These rebels are Roman, voiced by Brian George, Jonsey, voiced by Jeff Bennet, and Q, voiced by Pat Fraley. They go find a very small old man named Rexus, voiced by John Mariano. They are trying to find the mystical Book of Rule, and get it before an evil dictator named King Forge, voiced by Tony Jay gets it. The story might seem kind of Robin Hoodish, but what binds the story together is a delightful and very funny script with well written characters and very funny jokes that will pull you into this strange world and make you almost forget about the game’s more, um, glaring flaws. I’ll get to those flaws later, but you will definitely play this game for its story and writing.
So, what is the gameplay like? The gameplay takes the form of a behind-the-back third person shooter before the over- the-shoulder look became very popular with games like Gears of War. The shooting has a bit of a fast-paced arcade feel to it where there are a lot of enemies and you need to wail on them with your many many guns. Like the developer’s previous game for the PS2, Giants: Citizen Kabuto, you will have your mole man and tea-producing robot as your allies, and give them pre-Mass Effect commands that are VERY simple to give. You can either make them defend an area or help you shoot down enemies. How are the guns? There are many and are fun to use. You’ve got your usual assault rifle, normal rifle, sniper rifle, and you get the idea. However, there are some truly creative and fun weapons that maybe outdo some of the weapons seen in the awesome Ratchet and Clank series. The main weapon everyone remembers from this game is the Land Shark Gun. This gun does what you think it does, it shoots sharks that swim in the ground and come up from under the ground and maul the enemies. Other weapons I love are different kinds of grenades that will literally turn the land you stand on upside down, and a grenade that makes black holes. There is a bit of variety to the levels, from taking captured villagers back to their homes via jetpack you get when you are alone, a tower defense kind of mechanic where you step inside a turret and take down hundreds of enemies, to the already mentioned jetpack that helps you get across vast distances. There is no multiplayer so you only have the single player to look forward to once you beat the single player campaign.
The graphics, um, let us not talk about the graphics too much here. I like the character designs and that is all I’m going to say about the graphics. I enjoyed the voice acting. I think it is one of the best things about the game. The script is humorous and clever, and it all comes alive with the great voice work provided by some very talented people who bring to life such memorable characters. The music is also excellent, with a very Brave Heart kind of tone to the music that is mostly quiet in the background. It helps bring in the atmosphere that the game provides.
Okay then, this game is super awesome in a lot of ways, but what is wrong with it? Well, I can’t wait any longer to talk about the graphics so here we go. THE GRAPHICS SUCK! This game came out in 2003, the same year that Panzer Dragoon Orta came out for the system and Orta looked so amazing and beautiful. Armed and Dangerous however looks like Garry’s Mod with a very cheap look to it. I am kind of surprised that a game can look like this for a console that we know can be graphically amazing. It looks like it’s in an alpha stage, and I can’t believe it’s the actual end product. If it wasn’t for the story and characters, my immersion would have been ruined. I am not a graphics snob, but good lord, this game looks as good as Giants: Citizen Kabuto, and that isn’t saying much. The game also gets slightly repetitious since a later part of the game has you go through two villager-saving missions, two turret sections, and it’s like, “we ran out of ideas of what to do here so we will give you two of everything!”. There are also not that many bosses, if you can even call them bosses. It makes the whole game get a little stale later on, but overall, unlike other games, the lack of bosses didn’t bother me here due to the story and characters.
So, no spoilers here, I loved the game. You already know that from the constant praise that I keep giving it. If you have an original Xbox or have a 360 with the backwards compatibility update, go get this game. I got my copy for about 6 dollars, but I know it can go for much higher prices. I would say pick it up for the highest being 15 and 20 if you have to. This is one of my personal favorite games and I do wish there was a sequel for this game. I mean, the studio that made it is still around and I know people would be happy with a downloadable sequel on the Wii U and the other future consoles. Since we just covered a shooter, why not a racing game? Well, next week, I will talk about a game that Outruns the other exclusive racers on the Xbox. Get it?
This game gets an 8 out of 10