Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal is a third-person action romp that blatantly borrows a number of concepts from Sony's Ratchet & Clank series. In a nutshell, you work your way through large 3D environments and lay waste to the enemies you encounter using the characters' comical kung fu attacks or the different Acme-inspired weapons that are available within each area. If you disregard the fact that gun violence is very out of character for the Looney Tunes gang, then the game's biggest problem is that it tries to copy Ratchet & Clank but doesn't actually come anywhere close to delivering the same amount of fun or variety that the typical Ratchet & Clank game does. The action is boring, and the presentation is half-hearted and almost devoid of humor. Furthermore, thanks to the sloppy programming, the simple act of playing the game often feels like an exercise in frustration.
According to the story, a mysterious mad scientist has invented a time machine and sent his robot goons back in time to eliminate the Looney Tunes characters' ancestors, which would erase Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, and the rest of the Looney gang from existence. Luckily, Bugs Bunny catches wind of the plan and rallies the other toons, who decide to travel back in time to set things right. The main mode is mission-based. In it, you run and jump your way through 3D environments that are liberally populated with robotic adversaries. To dispatch these bad guys, you can get in close and smack them with your melee attacks, or you can blast them from a distance with the different weapons you've picked up. If you play alone, you can swap between the two characters involved in the mission simply by tapping a button. However, if you connect a second controller, you and a friend can control the characters individually and play through each mission cooperatively. There's also a stand-alone battle mode, which lets you and your friends fight it out in multiple arenas to see who is the top toon.
You'd think doling out violence with your favorite cartoon characters would be fun. Unfortunately, every level employs the same boring mix of gap jumping and switch hunting, and the combat mainly involves mindlessly mashing the buttons to perform the same melee combinations against the same half-dozen robots that are recycled thousands of times throughout the game. You can collect vials of a substance called illudium to make your character stronger, but that doesn't add any new attacks to your repertoire. Likewise, the weapons don't do much to alleviate the monotony brought on by all that sameness. They're effective at getting rid of enemies in a hurry, but, out of the 15 different guns you can pick up, the only ones that aren't generic blasters are the flamethrower, the freeze gun, and the extend-o-fist. You also don't get to run wild with them as often as you'd like. Few enemies carry them. Instead, you usually have to bide your time until you come across a vending machine, which will sell you one for an astronomical number of gold pieces. However, the joke's on you, because the 20 or 30 shots in that gun probably won't last beyond the next cluster of enemies.
The presentation feels similarly phoned-in. Sure, the characters look like they're supposed to, and the toon-shaded backgrounds look appropriate, but there's not much to see with regard to different animations or environmental details. Once you've seen Bugs Bunny slam his guitar down and have observed the embers being cast out of the fire pits, you've seen everything this game has to offer. During the missions, the only real hints of Looney Tunes attitude you'll notice are the repetitive one-liners that the characters utter when they're trading blows with the enemy. The prerecorded scenes that are shown between missions do show the characters interacting with one another, but the gags are nowhere near as funny as anything you'd see in an actual Looney Tunes or Merry Melodies cartoon. Even on a technical level, the presentation fails. The muddy textures and simplistic terrain features are at least four years behind the curve compared to other PlayStation 2 games. Except for an increase in sharpness, the Xbox 360 and Wii versions of the game don't look any better.
In fact, the only noteworthy enhancement the Xbox 360 version of the game offers over its PS2 and Wii counterparts is the ability to play through the story cooperatively with another person over Xbox Live. That's not much of a bonus, considering how lifeless the whole experience is. It's also rather silly that the battle mode in the Xbox 360 version is limited to local split-screen play only, considering that the Xbox Live service is perfectly capable of handling four players and the tiny arenas that the game dishes out.
On top of everything else, the developers did a poor job of nailing down the controls, hit detection, and camera. Shaking the Wii remote to deliver jabs and spin attacks takes a while to get used to, but, generally speaking, the controls in all three versions simply entail repeatedly tapping the buttons to jump, perform melee combos, and use weapons. If only playing the game really was just that simple. First of all, aiming weapons is a pain, because the lock-on function has a tendency to latch onto boxes just as often as an enemy. Secondly, the characters move like they have oil on their feet. They slide all over the place! Combine that with the exaggerated follow-throughs on most attacks and you'll frequently find yourself slipping off of ledges for no good reason. It also doesn't help that you'll occasionally take a swing at an enemy only to pass right through them, basically flinging yourself right off of the platform.
Above all, the most frustrating thing is how the camera tends to move at the worst possible moment. It's bad enough that it never seems to pick a good angle in the first place, but you'll frequently find yourself in the middle of a jump between two platforms when the camera decides to point at something other than the platform you're trying to land on. Health refills and checkpoints are plentiful, and you can continue as much as you like, so at least the shoddy programming doesn't mean the game can't be beaten. Nevertheless, you'll have to endure lots of cheap deaths during the roughly eight hours it takes to clear all of the missions contained within the game's 10 chapters.
Don't bother with Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal, not even for kids who you think won't know any better. It isn't fun, it certainly isn't funny, and the game's sketchier aspects are liable to fluster anyone who plays it.