Armed and Dangerous Hands-On Impressions

We get our hands on Planet Moon's fast-paced and humorous third-person action game.

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At a recent European press event, we got our hands on an early Xbox version of Armed and Dangerous, the next game from the creator of Giants: Citizen Kabuto. The game will be a squad-based third-person shooter that takes place in an offbeat world in which you and your teammates are armed with advanced technology, but your enemies will come at you with bows and arrows--and highly superior numbers. In the game, you'll play as Roman, a human soldier accompanied by the snobbish, cape-wearing robot Q and the diminutive and surly mole Jonesy. The game's controls roughly resemble Halo's--you use the left stick to move, the right stick to aim, and the right trigger to fire.

Just about every weapon has a partial zoom mode that can be accessed by pressing the left trigger, though the sniper rifle has a full-on, far-sighted zoom, and you can switch between Roman's default weapons--the machine gun, sniper rifle, and sticky bombs--using the D pad. The rapid-firing machine gun functioned much as you'd expect, as did the sniper rifle, which, with a clean shot, often killed enemies with a single hit. The sticky bombs acted as grenades that could be attached to buildings or moving enemies.

However, we were able to use a few other, more-unusual weapons, including the humorous topsy-turvy bomb (a gigantic corkscrew that turns the world upside-down, causing enemies to "fall" into the sky, and then fall again to their deaths once the bomb wears off and the world rights itself) and the land shark gun (which fires a subterranean shark whose dorsal fin pokes up above the ground until it reaches its targets, which it then devours). We were also able to use the vindaloo launcher, a powerful ballistic weapon that fires four homing missiles made from some of the spiciest Indian cuisine in the universe. Both the vindaloo launcher and the sticky grenades proved useful not only against our enemies, but also against certain destructible buildings (marked with a large, painted target on the outside walls) that must be destroyed to complete certain objectives and go up with a satisfying crash and burst of flames.

The early version we played had about seven levels in it, featuring such diverse objectives as recovering the vindaloo launcher, holding off an onslaught of enemies from a stationary turret, and infiltrating an enemy castle using a jump-pack (a jetpack that catapults Roman high in the air and has glider fins on the back that let you guide his descent in different directions once the jump-pack's initial charge is spent). And as you may expect from a game created by Planet Moon, each level was punctuated by a humorous in-game cutscene. One of these involved Jonesy being frozen half to death, a nearby giant lizard creature (and its orifices), and Q formulating a plan to save Jonesy in a humorous parody of the bantha-gutting scene in The Empire Strikes Back, which culminates in the lizard creature running wild and screaming at the top of its lungs while Q calmy pours himself a cup of tea and remarks that "it works better when they're dead."

Armed and Dangerous already looks extremely good. Its building textures look clean, its environments are huge, and its character models, including the extremely shiny Q and the gun-toting Roman, are very detailed. The game is currently scheduled for release later this year on both the Xbox and the PC.

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