I still remember my first peek at Loaded…
It was a picture in a magazine of a cowboy/pirate looking dude with an exposed rib cage & overly large arms holding 2 huge guns. He looked like the ultimate badass & was called Cap’N Hands….he was also the first character I chose to play as when I finally got hold of the game.
Loaded is a top down shooter that combines a comic book style with ultra-violence, a sure winner!
Set in the distant future on a prison planet where 6 unique individuals are incarcerated for crimes they didn’t commit. These crimes were committed by F.U.B (Fat Ugly Boy) a notorious space pirate who has infiltrated the prison system & is now the warden of the prison. He plans a prison break for the 6, to challenge himself, thinking if he can beat them he can beat anyone. Armed with a machine that can manipulate the universe & open holes to other dimensions he goes on the run. Our 6 ‘heroes’ must get out of the prison, find F.U.B & take him down once & for all.
I keep hinting towards the 6 playable characters ‘uniqueness’ for a reason…they may be in prison for crimes they didn’t commit but that doesn’t mean they are stand-up members of the galaxy, far from it. In fact there probably isn’t a bigger bunch of anti-heroes in gaming.
Bounca, Butch, Cap’N Hands, Fwank, Mamma & Vox….a bunch of murderers, perverts & psychopaths & each with their own weapons & abilities. Finding which one works best for you will take some time but it’s impossible to not have fun once you do get going with the slaughter.
The game also has co-op so you & a buddy can cause chaos together.
There are 15 levels across different worlds & players are tasked with killing everything in a room or area before moving on. Everything will be trying to kill the player as well so there is a real competitive edge to it. The bloodied remains of your foes can be looted for points & serves as a reminder of all the destruction you have just caused. It’s a gory game but has a cartoony edge that makes it feel less real. In this game that is a good thing.
There are puzzles to vary things up but they are not exactly a big challenge as well as power-ups & some moments of exploration. It’s not just room after room of enemies thankfully.
What is really impressive is every level opens with a cleverly done cut-scene that manages to make a light story seem deeper than it actually is. For a game like this a story isn’t necessarily important but it makes it a lot more interesting to play.
When you do finish a level you are given a rating based on certain things you did throughout (such as body count) & potential career opportunities that are based off how brutal you were. If you didn’t do much your rating might be ‘social worker’ while on the higher scale you might get ‘manic’. It’s the little touches that help.
What deserves special mention is the music…a combination of industrial & synth. It sounds alien like as well as being extremely catchy.
Sadly it hasn’t aged well…nostalgia is a funny thing & playing the game back now the characters feel clunky in my hands. It looks rough & the ‘top down’ view meant far too many enemies were obscured off-screen at times. It can be a frustrating experience but it is far from punishing to play.