If you’re really looking for a strange experience, something just a little bit north of bizarre, try playing Planet Moon’s Armed and Dangerous like I did, cooked to the gills on flu medication. There I am, so doped up that tiny cartoon boozle bubbles are almost literally popping around my head, playing Roman, the leader of the Lionhearts, trying to recover the Book of Rule from the evil King Forge and his retarded son. Just who are the Lionhearts? Why, a band of stalwart adventurers consisting of yourself (a human), a moleman named Jonesy, a tea-drinking robot, and a stinky, elderly mystic. What’s the Book of Rule? That’s a little less clear to me, even having completed the game. It’s, uh, a book, either about basket weaving or horticulture, and it seems to spend a lot of time talking about Jonesy’s shriveled testicles. So, Nyquil pleasantly burbling through my veins, the Lionhearts have all manner of goofy adventure as they make our way across where-ever-the-heck-they-are English-looking countryside, helping out downtrodden villagers, blowing up stuff, and expending thousands upon thousands of rounds of ammunition.
This studio’s previous offering, Giants: Citizen Kabuto was something of a third person shooter as I recall. This one is as well (except for a couple of missions when you man a turret to repel invaders). No strategy here, really, as enemies and weapons fire come at you from all directions fast and furious, and your mission is mostly no more complicated than staying on the compass heading indicated and blasting anything that lies between you and your goal. To help you accomplish these goals, you are given a pretty peculiar collection of weapons including a land shark gun which shoots out a shark that burrows underneath the ground, ala Bugs Bunny digging his way to Pismo Beach, and surfaces to devour enemies, and a large horn-like thing that shoots mortars. Another weapon has your character bore a large screw into the ground, and then turn the world over momentarily, all your enemies falling into the sky while you cling to the giant screw, and then plummeting back to earth. You also can choose to detonate the world’s smallest black hole with the expected results. Odd weapons aside, however, you’ll mostly find yourself using your standard machine gun, a weapon of almost unreal power with a 100 shot clip, 1000 rounds that you can carry, and spare clips lying everywhere. I found it pretty rare that 100 rounds couldn’t kill almost anything I pointed at.
Though technically part of the Lionhearts team, you are alone for many of the missions as your teammates are supposedly off performing some other task. Even when you have other teams member with you, they’re not particularly durable, and your ability to control them is limited to a few simple commands (stay with me, defend this location). On the plus side, they can be killed during the mission without penalty, and they’ll continue to appear in later missions and cutscenes. Incidentally, these cutscenes contain some fine voice work but with the lowest video quality I’ve seen since 7th Guest, no joke. The video is so badly pixilated that it almost looks like they are just working copies to hold places until the real video comes back from the developers, but this is the video they shipped with the game nonetheless. Did I mention that they take many, many shots at Star Wars, and more than a few at the Arthurian legends? And while I’m at it, the game only has ten or so types of enemies, and when you kill literally hundreds of them you start to feel that lack of variety fairly acutely. Some of the larger mechanical monsters are cool, but overall don’t appear nearly frequently enough in the game for my taste. Otherwise the graphics are OK, with an impressive physics engine for weapon and body trajectories. Almost everything can be destroyed if you have enough firepower (though mostly everything consists primarily of small hut-like buildings and some defensive structures).
The exploits of the Lionhearts are genuinely funny, mostly due to their own incompetence. I suspect I’d have found that to be the case even without the 103 fever and the chemical dependence. The action is moderately intense, though I think most gamers will find the level of difficulty very manageable as long as you advance methodically and don’t rush blithely into massive enemy numbers. I’d like to note my objection that, like Max Payne 2, AAD doesn’t support multiplayer gaming of any sort, so once you’ve completed the single player game through, your chances of doing anything other than uninstalling it is kind of slim. That shortcoming aside, you could do worse than to have found it in your stocking Xmas morning.