Army of Two The 40th Day: review

  • Format: Xbox360 (version reviewed), PS3, PSP
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • Developer: EA Montreal
  • Players: 2-8
  • Site: www.armyoftwo.com/

The first Army of Two game set out with ambitious goals to make cooperative play the key feature at its core. In fact, cooperative gameplay in recent years has fast become as popular as versus modes. With the proliferation of cooperative play, Army of Two: The 40th Day has to try hard to stand out.

Set within Shanghai, you (and ideally a friend) take on the roles of Rios and Salem. Two men with the power of an army and the combined IQ of a mouldy potato. After successfully completing a routine job setting up mysterious transmitters, things go a little awry when an attack starts blowing up the city. From then on it’s up to the two friends to escape by any means necessary.

We could spend a while describing gameplay to you, but the third person shooter sub-genre is also proving to be a popular choice these days so you’ll already know everything. Whether you’ve played Gears of War or Resident Evil 5 or Uncharted the basic principle of over the shoulder aiming and shooting is essentially the same. It works as well here as in any of the games mentioned, but also makes the same classic mistakes like mapping too many actions to a single case-sensitive button.

Believe it or not, the kid is the brains of the operation.

Unique to the Army of Two series is the returning Aggro System. Whoever is doing the most damage or causing the biggest fuss gets the attention of the enemies. At peak aggro it makes the other player practically invisible and able to sneak around enemies to attack from the rear. This is usually the only additional tactic needed to take down any number of enemies that can’t be killed normally.

Weapon and mask customisation returns to allow you to pimp out your gear (we wouldn’t normally use an expression like that, but when you can upgrade to jewel encrusted golden grenades we feel it’s necessary) and try different load outs. You can also just pick up weapons from fallen enemies, but we found that sticking with your starter load out and just upgrading that will see you through easily enough.

Also in the 40th Day you will be confronted with a number of totally arbitrary moral choices with hilariously over the top consequences. For example: kill an endangered white tiger to open up a shortcut through a destroyed zoo, or leave it alone. If you chose to leave it alone it breaks out and decides to randomly hide in a car that just happens to belong to someone holding up a liquor store. Comedy ensues. What is quite fun about them is that it is the player who selects fastest that decides which action will play out, so it gives you something to argue about.

Connected to these moments is a morality meter running through the game keeping an eye on you. Occasionally you’ll come across hostage situations and basically it’s there to slap you on the wrist if you go in guns blazing or compliment you if you do it without a single innocent casualty, but other than that seems pointless.

Visually, the game could be better. Don’t get us wrong; at times the ruined Shanghai can look nice, just not perfect. There is also a strange stuttering effect in some cut scenes and once during play the game froze completely for no apparent reason.

Voice acting and music overall are probably the low points. Nolan North is the only decent actor lending his talents, but because he’s been in so many games recently it just makes Salem seem like some alternate-world Nathan Drake that’s gotten sick of being beaten up by villains and spent a few weeks punching kittens to get tougher and remove any moral sensibility/love of cats.

The story of 40th Day is a little strange. As mentioned; the goal here is for Rios and Salem to get out of the ruined city by any means possible, but very quickly you’ll start to get curious about these mercs all wanting to kill them and just what was going on. Sadly, the game holds back this fairly important information until right at the end. When you do eventually hear the reasons for this attack on the city and then see the absurdity of the final moral choice, you (like us) will probably end up wishing you hadn’t been told at all.

The campaign experience takes you through eight chapters with an average length of around thirty minutes each on the standard difficulty. There are more difficulties to tackle, collectables to find and also customisation options to play with. For those looking for more after all that, there are also other online modes to take on. Most of these are standard affairs with the co-op twist thrown in. Extraction (40th Day’s variant of the ever popular Horde Mode) began as a pre-order exclusive mode, but by now should be available to everyone and is probably the highlight of those modes.

Army of Two: The 40th Day tries hard to cater to its desired market. It makes co-op play easy by offering it private or public online and split screen while still making sure the AI team mate for single player is just about competent enough to get by. Where it falters is in the unremarkable goals it sets for itself. While everyone does need to let off steam every once in a while playing something utterly brainless, it sadly means said experience will also not be memorable – especially when what might have been big selling points for a franchise some time ago have now been done frequently better by others.


5/10

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Written by Ian D

Misanthropic git. Dislikes: Most things. Likes: Obscure references.

One comment

  1. KrazyFace /

    Punching kittens would just make me feel numb inside. Seriously though I’ve never bothered with Army of Two, but this review got me thinking about it’s content. It reminds me of the Old Skool games in a way, mindless and funny violence all round with very little to think about. Sometimes I feel gamers are being pushed into feeling they have a moral obligation in games too often.

    What’s wrong with a bit of pointless violence every now and then? Army of Two LOOKS like it’s an old skool shoot em’ up with a big ol’ 2010 facelift. It seems to pander to that 80’s ‘Do or die’ attitude, or is my guess waaaaay off?

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