I never actually played the first Army of Two game from a couple of years ago, so I’m not really sure why I was so determined to play the sequel. Let this be a warning that I won’t be able to comment on specific improvements/disappointments in this game when compared to the first one. I can say that even without playing the first game, I walked away from this one pleasantly surprised, although not without some concerns.
Army of Two The 40th Day is pretty slight on story. Its opening leaves quite an impression however, as we watch Shanghai get reduced to rubble within the first few minutes of the game. The problem is that after that, the game doesn’t do a whole lot with the idea. There are some cool set pieces, but nothing really has any meaning behind any of it. By the end of the game I still wasn’t very clear on anything that had happened, until I went back and listened to some of the radio logs that I had collected throughout the game. That filled in some of the gaps, but it still doesn’t change the fact that 40th Day is definitely not to be played for it’s story, although I’m guessing very few of you thought it was in the first place.
The core idea behind Army of Two is that you and a teammate (either a human being or an AI partner) take on hoards of bad guys while together at all times. There is no option to play by your lonesome here. Of course as with any coop heavy experience this is much more enjoyable if you are playing with an actual person. Playing single player is certainly not a bad experience, but I don’t think anyone would deny that it just isn’t quite the same.
There are other unique features that Army of Two brings to the world of shooters. You have the ability to customize each of your guns in a ridiculous amount of ways. There’s also the Aggro system, which involves distracting enemies while your partner sneaks around and flanks them. They are both well done features but I’ll be honest I really didn’t use them that much and still managed to make it through the entire game with relative ease.
Also introduced here is a “morality system.” At some point in each of the game’s seven chapters you will come into a situation where you need to make a choice. One will increase your morality and the other will bring it down. What I found interesting here is that it’s not as clear-cut as you would expect. In a game like Infamous it was always very clear which was the good choice and vice versa. Here however you are never quite sure. Another nice touch is after you make your decision, you are shown a series of still images that tell you the consequences of your actions. It doesn’t change the core experience a whole lot, but it was a nice touch that I always enjoyed watching. The novelty does wear off a little however as you soon start to realize that almost every choice you make ends up being bad.
However despite all of these features, the game still often feels like a routine third person shooter. For every cool sequence (I particularly enjoy when you stand back to back with your partner and mow down everyone in sight with an infinite supply of ammo) there are extended sections where all you are doing is shooting enemy after enemy inside a large room. There are a couple of these sections near the end that are just excruciating and it often feels like they were simply trying to pad out what is overall a pretty short game. All of the shooting and cover mechanics work well, it’s just that we’ve seen it before.
So I played through the game in single player, only quickly dabbling in some of the coop. Because of this, I feel I need to address the partner AI. For the most part it’s fine. They help you out, revive you when you go down and generally do what they are asked to do.
Every now and then though, your partner makes some decisions that are a little questionable. Here are a few that immediately leap to mind:
- Standing in front of me when I have a perfect sniper shot lined up. Although it was funny to all of a sudden have his face pop into my scope, we did end up getting riddled with bullets. So I can’t call it an effective strategy.
- Running out into a swarm of bad guys, only to get shot down. Any attempts to save him will result in the same thing for me, so we’re just done.
- Getting a boost over a ledge so he can open a gate for me, and then just never doing it
In all fairness I’m sure that last one was a glitch but still. Thankfully the AI is more helpful than not. The bad guy AI is pretty good too, with enemies also trying to sneak around and flank you. One nice touch is that if you wound a bad guy, another one will come over and attempt to heal them. It’s fun/terribly sadistic to give them that false sense of hope that maybe they will succeed but then just mowing them both down.
I know a lot of people had a problem with all the “bromance” stuff in the first game. Maybe they toned it down for the sequel but I really didn’t have a problem with it. The back and forth between the two main characters is usually pretty funny and I’m all for any game where the push of a button can lead to a chest bump or a game of rock, paper, scissors.
I can’t comment too much on the multiplayer as I didn’t really partake in it much. You have your usual death match (here of course being done in teams of two), capture the flag and a third that is objective based. There is also a fourth game mode that for the time being is only available to those who pre-ordered the game. Everyone else has to wait thirty days to play it, although by now I guess it’s closer to twenty.
I liked Army of Two 40th Day quite a bit, despite never playing the first game. Hell maybe that helped. It’s a little on the generic side for sure but if you have someone else to play this with, it’s definitely worth at least one run through.