Iím going to be blunt here; I hated the original Army of Two; with a passion. To me, the gameplay was horrible, the mechanics shoddy and the supposed humor boiled down to one long, drawn out gay joke (come on, you know you thought it).
Now, EAís contract bromancers are back Ė is it enough to change my mind on the series? Not exactly. Yes, its miles ahead of its predecessor, and feels like a more fleshed out experience but once you finish it, you canít help but feel unfulfilled.
Army of Two: The 40th Day picks up a few years after the original game and finds independent military contractors Salem and Rios on a routine mission in Shanghai. As you could expect, things go bad very quickly. A rival military contract group attacks the city, causing sky scrapers to fall and destruction to reign. The majority of the story tasks players with escaping Shanghai safely, but thereís a few surprises thrown in.
The gameís executive producer, Reid Schneider, has been quoted as saying that he wanted the game to be more about survival and having to rely on your partner for help. This new direction is incredibly refreshing and feels like a perfect fit for the series. Sure, the set pieces and escape scenes arenít nearly as remarkably as in a game like Uncharted 2, but coming from a game where you felt like you were shooting for no apparent reason Ė itís definitely a welcome change.
"...your standard run in, shoot everyone shooting at you.."
In theory, the gameplay in The 40th Day should work, but more often than not, youíre still left feeling flat after playing through. Sure, thereís an interesting story here, but save for a few cutscenes and some radio logs you can pick up, the game doesnít allow it to develop as it should. What youíre left with is your standard run in, shoot everyone shooting at you, run out mission structure in place of a decent narrative. Sure, there are some varied missions, like rescuing hostages and taking up contracted jobs, but those are few and far between.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Army of Two: The 40th Day is just how shoddy the mechanics are. Youíre going to need to rely on your partner a lot, especially when one of you goes down and needs reviving. In theory, you go up to your downed opponent, hit the a-button and revive them, in practice this doesnít work so well because the ability to run is also mapped to the a-button. Youíll get incredibly frustrated as youíll take on additional damage (and even worse, die, having to respawn at the last checkpoint which are few and far between) running past your teammate because the game mistook which action you wanted to do. The gameís cover system is also incredibly shoddy as you can never quite tell whether or not youíll be able to accurately stick to certain objects. Of course, that doesnít really matter, what with the enemies magically spawning behind you in areas you thought you cleared.
I said it when the first game came out and Iíll say it here; Army of Twoís aggro system is one of the worst ideas in all of gaming. Essentially, if either Salem or Rios makes a whole lot of noise and does a lot of shooting; the other becomes essentially invisible Ė making kills pretty easy. Really? In a day and age when co-op is an industry standard, this game relies on cheap tricks to advance gameplay? It would be one thing if the aggro meter allowed the other player to sneak around in cover and take out the distracted enemies, but no Ė in most cases the aggro-less player can all but walk right up to the enemy and take them out with little resistance. Yes, it is as cheap as it sounds.
"...weíre left with a much more gritty, much darker game...with the occasional bromance moment."
One thing EA did do right with The 40th Day was tone down the frat boy bromance humor. Sure, Salem and Rios still crack their fair share of jokes, and thatís fine, thatís what makes Army of Two unique Ė but thankfully itís toned down heavily here. Apparently, quite a few people got angry that the gameís humor made killing terrorists seem like a joke (seriously, one of EAís higher ups even talked about it), and as a result weíre left with a much more gritty, much darker game...with the occasional bromance moment.
Army of Two: The 40th Day continues EAís love affair with user created content. Here, players can go online and create their own masks for use in online games. This is definitely the gameís strongest point as you get a real sense of individuality playing online. In truth, the gameís online suite is pretty impressive Ė from the standard death match modes to the Horde like survival mode. Sadly, EA forgot to go the extra mile and include anything more than youíd expect; thereís no player progression, no leader boards and no weapon customization.
Iím sure thereís an audience out there somewhere for the Army of Two games, but with so many other great co-op experiences readily available, itís hard to think who it would be. Itís better than the original, but thatís not saying much. Unless youíre a huge fan of the original, Army of Two: The 40th Day isnít worth more than a rent.