The Looney Tunes franchise has long been a mainstay of the video game world, with a catalog of titles on platforms from the Game Boy to the the PlayStation2. But despite appearing on a variety of consoles, they've all had one thing in common--they've all been rather boring. Whether it's adventure, racing, or even basketball, no Looney Tunes game has been worth a spot in any self-respecting gamer's collection. But with its first self-published Looney Tunes game, Warner Bros. Interactive is looking to create a game that appeals to jaded gamers and pop-culture junkies alike. We checked out the game on Xbox 360 at this year's E3 conference to see if we should believe the hype.
The developer describes the setup for Acme Arsenal as a cross between The Terminator and Back to the Future. The Evil Scientist becomes so sick of the Looney Tunes gang that he hatches a plan to head back in time and eradicate them at the source by killing their ancestors. This clearly gives the developer a free pass to create levels in whichever time period it fancies, and thankfully imaginations have run riot. There will be levels set in the present day and World War I, in addition to B.C. (before cartoon) prehistoric settings.
One of the big features for Acme Arsenal is a co-op mode that, on the Xbox 360 at least, will be playable online. It will be also playable in co-op on all platforms (Xbox 360, PlayStation2, and Wii) offline using a split-screen mode. Even the single-player game depends on splitting between two characters, the choice of which is forced on you during your first play of the game; but you can go back and play with characters of your choice the second time around. Speaking of characters, there'll be highly recognizable personas, such as Marvin the Martian, Daffy, and Taz. Marvin has apparently been modeled on Yoda from Star Wars: Episode II--hence his ability to jump around and wield two swords at once. Bugs Bunny looks more like a traditional character, like Jak from Jak & Daxter. There will also be fan favorites such as Hyde Bugs, the crazy bunny from a famous Looney Tunes short who turns green after drinking a potion.
Fans are also likely to dig the fact that all the foley work for the game was done at the same Warner Bros. studio used for Who Framed Rodger Rabbit? On the weapons side, you'll have access to the full arsenal of ACME weapons, including rocket launchers, a boxing glove gun, and a flamethrower. There will also be three vehicle-based levels, including a race on a motorcycle and sidecar during World War I. Technically, the game looks reasonably impressive. The Xbox 360 version was running at a very solid 60 frames per second, while the Wii version will support 480p widescreen displays. The team told us that it wanted to stay away from using cel-shading in the games, and they instead opted for a style that they call "cartoonistic" that is meant to preserve the look of the Looney Tunes cartoons as much as possible.
Each different version of the game will offer the same basic campaign, but there will be bonus characters, minigames, and costumes unique to each. The PS2 version will feature a game based on the famous Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner sketches, with the former character chasing the latter on an acme rocket. There will also be a costume for Bugs Bunny based on Uma Thurman's yellow tracksuit in Kill Bill, which is clearly one of those additions meant to appeal to the older gamers that Warner is aiming for.
Despite being developer Red Tribe's first game, Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal looks like it's shaping up to be a respectable entry into the 3D action genre. It's technically impressive, has been created with a clear love of the characters, and it looks like there'll be a nice mix of locations on offer. The game is set for release on September 18 in the US, and at the end of October/beginning of November in Europe. We'll bring you a full review of the game then.