Army of Two: The 40th Day is, for the most part, a fun game. It's nothing special, but at most you might get some enjoyment out of it because it just happens to be a fun game. The experience can be great if you haven't really partaken too much in the action/adventure genre, but for the most part, Army of Two is enjoyable because it's a quick experience but there's a lot of room for replay. Although it's hard to deny some of the games shortcomings.
You take the roles of either Rios or Salem. There is really not much of a story in Army of Two... at all. There are certain storylike moments, but for the most part the game doesn't really have much of a point to all the shooting and whatnot. You're basically just thrown into a situation and have to get out of it by shooting your way through as many bad guys as you can. If you're the type where a video game has got to have a story (a decent one, anyway) you'll find that Army of Two is really a game that's about... well, nothing. That's not to say it doesn't have it's moments. The two main heroes, while not exactly being great characters, do add a bit of humor to the game and commentary. Being that there isn't really much of a story, you might also expect that there's not much character development... and you're right.
The game does have its moments, though. There's a lot of intense action, for one thing. The level designs are pretty good, for the most part. You can almost treat Army of Two like a run and gun game, but doing so is a pretty good way to get yourself killed in most situations. There's a lot going on within each level, and they're all varied environments where you'll run into a horde of enemies as you make your way to specific objectives. No matter how you go about it there will always be two of you. You can play as Rios or Salem, but from time to time you'll join up with other NPC characters who will help you out. Either way there are always two of you. You can go at with a friend either offline or online or by yourself where the AI will control one of the two main characters. And once you do you'll be up against an entire world. It's not called Army of Two for nothing.
The campaign is simple enough. You'll plow through it, mowing down just about any enemy in your path. For the most part the types of enemies you run into aren't really all that varied and different. The game hardly throws much of a challenge at you in terms of variations in enemies. The biggest form of challenge comes from the number of enemies coming at you rather than the types of weapons they'll use against you. From time to time you'll run into a special kind of enemy who will give you a challenge, but they're never enemies you find yourself constantly running into. At least Army of Two is fun.
Another aspect of the game is aggro. This is probably the best part about Army of Two. It's primarily a two person experience and being a team is incredibly important. Aggro levels increase based on how loud you are (primarily by shooting). The higher your aggro, the more the enemy notices you. The system is unique because whoever has no aggro can run around with absolutely no worries. The enemy will be too distracted by their partner. This isn't a gimmick, however, it's integral to getting through specific firefights and taking certain special enemies. There are many moments where you'll fight enemies who must be targeted from behind, for example. One person is supposed to distract the enemy while the other goes in for the ambush. It's a unique system and it works perfectly. If you find yourself too bogged down in a fire fight, you can also play dead.
The enemy AI isn't brilliant, however. With the aggro system at play, your enemies seem almost completely oblivious to their surroundings. While the enemy is distracted they never seem to care about the person other than who they're shooting at. It seems strange that they almost never turn to take on the guy who could be smacking them in the head because they're so preoccupied with the other guy just because his aggro is up. That doesn't mean Army of Two is easy, mind you. Aggro goes both ways. Even though both will never have their aggro up at the same time, ones aggro decreases greatly if it means the others will increase. The game is a balancing act. This pretty much requires you to work together with your ally in some way.
There are other aspects to the multiplayer that help things along. For one, you'll also be tasked with reviving your teammate whenever he goes down as well. You'll be surprised how fast someone can go down in a firefight if they have a lot of aggro. Once a team mate is down you'll have a certain amount of time to get to him and revive him. That ally is allowed to defend himself, but he can be killed if you don't get to him time. If you're going by yourself the AI is surprisingly competent and stays alive. You won't find yourself babysitting much and you can pretty much let him roam off without much worry. But through and through you'll find that you'll have to stick together whenever you can.
There's more variety than simply progressing from one gun fight to another. There are also morality decisions to be made throughout the game. Early on, for example, you have a choice between executing a man or letting him go. As much fun as this, "Be good or be bad," thing can be... it doesn't have any huge impact on the game. The outcomes are certainly interesting to watch, but if there are any major effects at work I haven't noticed them. You might be tempted to play through again just for the sake of seeing all the different outcomes, but they have absolutely no impact on the non-existant story. In many cases, actually, these moments pop up with characters that only appear briefly... meaning that the game doesn't really give you much reason to care about how it might turn out for other characters. These moments where you can choose to do good or do bad
As you make your way through the campaign you'll also want to upgrade weapons. The system isn't too deep, but it allows for a lot variety in your weapons. You can add silencers, increase ammo capacity and lower how much weapons will increase your aggro. It's pretty important to the game as a whole, although it does have one huge downside. You can customize quite freely, but unfortunately the only time it saves your customizations is after a checkpoint... and checkpoints are pretty well spaced out. This means if you spend a lot of time customizing stuff but don't reach a checkpoint after and you die... you'll have to customize it all again. This is fine and dandy... if you know a checkpoint is coming up (or if you decide to customize before each chapter) but there's nothing more annoying than updating weapons only to die and have to do it... again. If you die a lot it will become annoying. Another aspect that can become annoying is that specific cutscenes and events you just can't skip. So if you die you'll have to sit through some of that stuff again.
There's melee combat as well, though it isn't nearly as important. What is pretty cool, though, is holding up officers while a partner ties them down... or going in and doing a mock surrender only to draw your pistol and take down groups of bad guys. The former becomes especially important during hostage situations where you have to save the hostages before the bad guys can execute them.
In the end, much of what happens in Army of Two: The 40th Day is being a run and gun kind of game. There's not a whole lot of variety in what you face, but it's actually pretty fun. Save for one thing in particular... the control scheme. It's not bad, but it does hinder some of the experience. Not because of bad controls, but mostly because the action button just has so many goddamn functions. It's used to drag your partner off the battle field, heal him, charge your enemy, execute commands and even ore than that. It makes certain moments annoying. When a partner is downed for example you might find yourself rolling forward or sprinting by him even though it's clearly not what you wanted to do. The game plays by being very specific. The action button doesn't perform certain actions unless the prompt pops up to do so. If you're used to games where you don't need a prompt to do stuff, Army of Two just might annoy you because in several instances (that mostly involve reviving your partner) you'll do something you don't want to do.
With so many firefights it's also amazing that Army of Two doesn't have a full blown cover system. You can crouch behind certain vehicles and objects but that's really about it. You can't exactly "take cover" you can just crouch. Games like Uncharted have incredible fire fights because they have full blown cover systems that allow you go from cover to cover smoothly and with ease. Army of Two doesn't have anything like that and as a result gun combat can feel hindered at times. The campaign isn't really all that long either. You'll finish it in about five hours or so. It's split into chapters most of which might not take you long. There's some replay value to be had, but mostly because the game is fast paced with a lot of action.
Graphically Army of Two has some incredible design. The levels are a wonder on the eyes and have A LOT of things happening within them. There are moments where the frame rate kind of slows down, and even a moment or two of clipping, but Army of Two is a pretty decent game. As of writing this review, I haven't played the PS3 version, I've only gotten my hands on the 360 one and as such can't tell you much more than that I haven't heard any news about what the difference between the two versions might be. The soundtrack isn't really all that memorable in the slightest, but the voice acting (what little of it there is) is actually really good, even if some of the writing within them is poor.
All things aside, Army of Two: The 40th Day is fun... but some of its problems keep it from being all around great. With a short campaign and a few control problems it might be a little hard to justify paying full price. There are quite a few unlockables, but they require repeated playing of the campaign. There are also a few difficulty levels at play, but the only real difference between them seems to be the amount of damage you take more so than anything, although what is nice about difficulty is that both players don't have to be on the same difficulty setting. If one of you is an experienced player and the other is a beginner, then you can play at two different difficulty settings and be fine, for the most part.
Army of Two is fun, it's just not incredibly great. The problems with the control scheme are a little tiresoe, and it's pretty sad that you're just thrown into things without much background. Nevertheless, it's still a good game... but there was a lot potential to be great.
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About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes (Sean_Rhodes)
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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Army of Two: The 40th Day focuses on two-player cooperative play and employs a cover system. It features Tyson Rios and Elliot Salem as combatant partners who, with the assistance of their handler Alice Murray, must fight to survive and prevail over invading forces that have engulfed Shanghai, China in a devastating terrorist attack. A demo of the game has been released on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.