Nostalgia Revisited - Loaded

Back at it again with the nostalgia. Another PlayStation 1 game from my childhood, Loaded. It was developed by Gremlin Entertainment and Published by Interplay (Fallout, Earthworm Jim, Clayfighter) and released for the PlayStation 1 December, 12, 1995 and on the Sega Saturn the following year. If you couldn't tell from the "BODY BAG NOT INCLUDED" on the cover art, you're in for a treat. Loaded is a top-down shoot 'em up game, and its full of violence. There were plenty games like this in the 90's. From games such as Mortal Kombat, Grand Theft Auto, Doom, and Splatterhouse and nearly everyone was trying to capitalize on the controversy that came with it. Remember, no press is bad press AM I RIGHT?.

 The story takes place in the distant future, long after F.T.L. flight has been discovered. F.U.B. (Fat Ugly Boy) was a catering officer that was quite uncultured and eventually lost his mind. He was given a discharge and was told to never show his face again. To get revenge, he became a feared space pirate. He took on a new identity and has joined the intergalactic prison system working his way up by killing all of his superiors. He has since became the warden of Raulf, pinning all of his crimes as a space pirate on other people, specifically those who are psychotic anyways so nobody bats an eye. You get to play as these psychos that have had been framed for the murders. I had to read all this in the manual which has become a thing of the past. 

You're given the selection of 6 different psychotic characters, each with their own stats, weaponry, and abilities. Which gives it the replayability factor. For each character you'll need to approach every situation differently to cater to their differences to the prior character you used.  My psycho of choice is always Cap 'n Hands. You begin the first level without being given any type of guidance other than "Escape the area." So you naturally explore the area and decimate all other inmates/workers that stand in your path. You collect different key cards to advance to the next part of the facility and you eventually end up completing the level. 

The gameplay holds up rather well and it runs quite smooth. However, it is very simplistic. You have your fire, special, and HUD control. Its complete and total chaos and its awesome! Loaded's strongest attribute is its difficulty. The game shifts from 0-100 rather quickly. If you don't time everything correctly and make it rain bullets you risk yourself losing your ammo and a life. When things get doubtful you can use your special move and it kills everything around you. The action rarely stops throughout the 15 levels and it can make a game a real treat if you're in the right mood for it. The biggest downside is the level designs. While they're not terrible, its just that they're....meh. The goals are the same in a few levels as you progress by finding card keys and killing anything that gets in your way usually leaving every room a bloody mess rinse and repeat. It just feels like nothing new is brought to the game until you get to level 4. I hated the ending. It was really short and left with so sense of satisfaction. *SPOILER ALERT IF YOU EVER DECIDE TO PLAY THIS 21 OLD GAME* After you kill F.U.B. a really short FMV plays. F.U.B. drops to the ground spewing out blood, his face melts and reveals a robotic mask which flies away saying "You'll never take me alive!" For the amount of time I put into it plus getting a corrupted save file leaving me to go through the game again I was a little disappointed with the ending. It was a terrible cliffhanger. 

The music enhances the game due to how well it fits it. With an industrial-esque tone it definitely gets you in the mood to mow down the massive amount of enemies you'll be encountering. With 21 tracks by Neil Biggin, 2 tracks by Patrick Phelan, and 2 tracks by Pop Will Eat Itself. It's nothing incredible but it's still pretty good.  A cool fact about Loaded is you're able to put the game into a CD player and you can listen to the whole soundtrack for the game! Including a few tracks they never used in-game. Not every game did this and as far as I know there are quite a few.

Playing single player gets boring rather quickly, making the game okay in small doses. I blame it mostly on the fact the game feels very repetitive at certain points. If you have a friend that is interested to play the game with you it makes the experience miles better. I wouldn't recommend playing it otherwise. There are a few games in this genre that were released during the time of its release and even before that could be considered better. Like the Strike series or arcade classics like Smash T.V. None of them are as crazy and as chaotic as Loaded though. They took that formula and pushed it as far as they could. 

In this case my nostalgia seems to get the better of this title. I tried to convince myself I was just being negative at the time but I quickly started losing interest at around the fourth level. It just got tiring of doing the same thing with nothing new being present. It could be that I'm not as fond of these types of games that I used to be. If I play with someone I'd have a much better time. I'd recommend it if you have a friend or family member that's interested in playing this type of game.
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