Published on January 15th, 2010 | by prime0
Army of Two: The 40th Day – Review
Summary: With the ability to unlock and change every detail from the grips to the muzzles to the paint jobs, you can be sure to create your ultimate weapon of mass destruction
EA Montreal seems to have taken all the complaints in the original Army of Two hampered by some poor characterization and dull gameplay, the original AOT came and went with little more than a whimper. However, by listening to the first game’s critics, EA has produced a defiantly strong sequel. Army of Two: The 40th Day rights many wrongs of its predecessor and manages to stand on its own two feet in an intimidating high profile genre. While not in the same league as the FPS titles such as Gears of War and Modern Warfare 2 – The 40th Day does what it does extremely well! Put you in control of an armor clad hulk, give you the biggest, baddest machine gun going and unleash hell on an army of foot soldiers. Essentially, you are Bill Rizer and Lance Bean a pair of commandos in the popular Contra game.
Stuck in Shanghai in the middle of a terrorist attack, our two TransWorld Operations (TWO) mercenaries must uncover the paper-thin plot as they gun their way out of the city while it literally falls down around them. Even though the combat becomes repetitive, the action is paced well, throwing in a few on-rails moments to break up the action.
The gameplay consists largely of getting from point A to B, taking out anything that attempts to stop you on your way. Tactical options are present and correct via a target marking system and the use of an “Aggro” system, but in large you’ll be doing a whole lot of running and a whole lot of gunning. Sticking to cover is automatic, as is sliding to cover at the end of a run. Though this is done for you, it never feels overly intrusive, allowing you to attach and detach with ease. Along with the usual array of grunts to dispose of, mid and end level battles usually throw another armor clad brute your way to mix things up. Requiring some serious teamwork to overthrow, they will eventually drop their almighty firearms to help you on your way.
Those who played the original will also notice the vastly improved AI in their partner. Either member can take it upon themselves to spray as many bullets at the oncoming army as possible, making him the target of their affections. With one player taking center stage on the battlefield, it allows the other heavy to flank the opposition, almost invisibly trotting off for some stealth slaughter. Best played with a friend online or in split screen. The second player can also be controlled by AI, commands to which are given by simple button presses to perform almost any task that you can do, from opening doors to tying up or executing enemy units. Thankfully, the AI does a fantastic job of keeping you company without faltering. The game’s interrelated threat system also works superbly. As you provide suppressing fire, your AI partner will take advantage of your enemies’ distraction and move into an advantageous position to eliminate them.
What AOT: The 40th Day lacks in story, it makes up for in fun. Part of this comes in the form of weapon customization and, as far as this is concerned, the sky’s the limit. With the ability to unlock and change every detail from the grips to the muzzles to the paint jobs, you can be sure to create your ultimate weapon of mass destruction. Weapons can be bought or upgraded at any point in the game as long as the characters aren’t engaged in combat and each proffers a standard list of advantages such as increased threat and improved damage. These cumulative advances to the campaign make this sequel stronger than the original, or would so were it not for the campaign’s woeful brevity. Army of Two: The 40th Day spans seven levels, each requiring roughly an hour to complete.
And still other mechanics, such as pretending to surrender Salem and Rios holding up their hands, asking for mercy or playing dead to drop your threat, feel gimmicky. They have their uses, certainly, but the game’s proficient AI renders them unnecessary once you’ve mastered the co-op commands. Cover, suppress, flank, and move on to the next room. The 40th Day attempts to burden player and character alike with moral decisions. Throughout the game, Rios and Salem encounter set-pieces wherein they must decide whether to let a character, or perhaps group of civilians, live or die.
These decisions are always binary, good or evil, and the game’s literature makes much of the impact of these selections. For ourselves, we have yet to find almost any difference between the two, save for the cut-scenes immediately following any decision at the end of each chapter. After making a moral or amoral decision, the game reports on both the immediate and long-term repercussions of the choice with a series of stylized comic panels. Either way, the decisions have no affect on the rest of the game, which seems like an odd omission, though do reward the player with an interesting cut scene to show how each plays out.
We have little doubt that the game will find its audience, but by and large, Army of Two: The 40th Day is an all out co-op shooter that does exactly what it says on the tin. With this stunted ambition and some minor gameplay niggles hold it back from being truly great, this is a full throttle, adrenalin fuelled, fun and full of guns.