Army of Two 40th Day
January 12, 2010 by Jereme Puik
With co-op at its core, Army of Two returns putting you back in the shoes of Salem and Rios as you try to survive in a city under siege in Shanghai, China. While the game may let you get buddy-buddy in this heavy war torn city is it actually successful in making the co-op experience fun?
Army of Two 40th Day brings in a new chapter to the Army of Two story, as you return to the shoes of Elliot Salem and Tyson Rios; you are finishing up a small job in Shanghai China. Suddenly, destruction breaks loose as the entire city becomes under siege from an attack by a competing PMA (Private Military Contractor). Explosions rock the landmarks and streets of the city while waves of mercenaries scourge the city to find you. The reasons for the sudden war are all left till the end and don’t exact give you anything to build off of during the story. Salem and Rios are a little more light-hearted this time around bantering back and forth with jokes and so on. Although at times they can be a little condensing to certain situations, especially if you get offended by certain issues presented in the game. Each chapter in the game presents you with morality choices leaving you with consequences that are often pretty weird. These choices are entertaining, but completely unnecessary.
The game has a grand total of 7 chapters to complete in the main campaign and can be done in no less then about 3 to 5 hours depending on your difficulty of choosing. Environments are varied as you work through fallen office buildings, hospitals and even a zoo littered with dead animals. The variety is nice; however, the combat itself is pretty straight forward. You’ll find cover, shoot, cover, rinse and repeat. With the focus on co-op, your partner is here to help. You’ll have the option of choosing to go Solo, Split-Screen or find a partner online. The AI for Solo players is pretty well built and is even better then some players found online as he is synchronized with you and helps you out quicker when you need help in cover or have fallen in battle.
Unfortunately, you’ll be fighting the same waves of mercs over and again with boss battles being pretty unsatisfying. There is weapons customization that is deep and will help you throughout the main campaign. However, there seems to be the problem that your weapon isn’t permanently saved. What this means is that if you spent 10 minutes customizing your weapon and then die in battle, you’ll have to do everything all over again, so watch your strategy. There are even choices between different masks to use or you can create your own online. Along with the other extras are hidden cats to shoot, civilians to save and playing through both sides of the story to view the end result of your morality choices. Don’t forget you can pick up radio logs as well as unlocking a “Big Head” mode after you complete the game.
Multiplayer is matched with up to 10 players and contains 4 different gameplay modes, though unfortunately will not use your custom-made campaign guns and uses pre-set weapons. Co-op Deathmatch sees you and your partner fighting together in the standard deathmatch. It is recommended you stick with your partner incase you need extra ammo or a need to be revived. Control mode is much likes “Capture the Flag”, where players team up and defend certain spawn points on the maps and gain points till the match is over. Warzone on the other hand is a completely random objectives mode where you will be tackling any sort of objective after each game. The controversial pre-order bonus mode Extraction is available where teams of four players fight waves of powerful enemies much in the fashion of Horde mode from Gears of War 2. The mode won’t be available to the world until the end of the month, so if you didn’t pre-order the game then you are out of luck for now.
Co-op is the main focus to Army of Two, whether your sitting with a friend in the same room or with one online, you’ll need a live partner to succeed. The partner AI is well done thankfully and is a breath of fresh air if you decide to attack the game solo. Your partner will line up his shots when you enter your GPS mode and strategize with you as well as run to your aid when you call for help. You can control your partner through a small set of basic commands via your d-pad. Introduced in the first game the aggro system is once again back in action. This fixes for enemies to concentrate on whoever is the loudest attacking player allowing for you to strategize your movements and go in for the kill. You can also play dead to clear your aggro immediately if you’re in a jam. There isn’t anything else exciting about the co-op presence in the game. Outside of that you’ll have help to climb over fences, lift up locked gates and jump over high walls. In hostage situations you can get your partner to take one guard hostage while you tie up or kill the others. The morality choices are also presented to the both of you and whoever presses the button first decides the fate of the situation in question.
The only major problem the game has is its all sensitive one button system. This button acts as the action button which can throw you off at times with the many other actions it entails. If you’re looking to heal your partner before he dies, you’ll sometimes end up jumping over cover on accident. Other times you’ll use this button to head to cover against pillars or other objects. The cover system itself is pretty basic as well, not allowing for much movement outside of just sticking to the wall.
With the urban city of Shanghai China in the midst of the chaos, you’ll be seeing every detail throughout the game. One minute the city is waking up for another day at the office, with tourists and people bustling about until the next minute turns to hell. Missile strikes take over the entire city and mercenaries are on the move to kill off the team of Salem and Rios. All of the levels of highly detailed including the Zoo location you’ll spend some time in as you take cover behind dead animals like hippos and elephants. There are other little touches here and there as well like Salem or Rio tipping their masks off from time to time or their new melee attacks. You’ll often see them flipping guys over railings or snapping bones when you get the chance. As for the loading screens, they aren’t as frequent as the first game and are manageable to deal with over time.
The two voice actors who voiced Tyson Rios (Jonathan Adams) and Elliot Salem (Nolan North) are back and with a better script this time. With a new script comes new banter between Rios and Salem and thankfully is a little more entertaining this time around instead of the boring chatter we got in the first game. There is a bit more humor and you’ll hear it when the action dies down as you make your way through the next chapter. All of the environmental sounds are on target and aren’t too far fetched from what you’d expect. Outside of that, when you make your weapon customizations you are also altering the sound your weapon makes when it fires, just something to keep in mind.
Army of Two: 40th Day is an interesting title in its own right. It’s certainly an upgrade to its 2008 predecessor, but wasn’t necessary in the long run. It could’ve done well if it was part of downloadable content as an expansion pack. As a full game you’re getting a light package when it comes to a 60 dollar price tag. With the robust multiplayer it expands the replay ability, so you won’t be bored after you finish the short campaign.
Overall, Army of Two 40th Day just seems like EA could’ve spent a little more time on the game to make it just right. They did an admirable job with this sequel, but its no enough to keep anyone interested long after the short campaign is finished. There were many changes since the first game launched though they went unnoticed, as the gameplay mechanics remained the same and the basic plot concept is still there. With nothing to go back too after the end credits roll, Army of Two 40th Day just gets lost in the end of it all.