Army of Two: The 40th Day
Gaming year 2010 has started with a bang! Games like Bayonetta, Darksiders, Mass Effect 2 and MAG have all been released in January which makes it already hard to top that month still. First up in the line is the co-op aimed Army of Two: The 40th Day by EA. Is this part of the top titles of the year or will it end up in the bargain bin after 40 days?
Electronic Arts was fed up seeing all the others mess around with making a good co-op game and decided to take things into their own hands in order to create the “ultimate” co-op title. Army of Two arrives two years ago out of the magical hat of EA and although it wasn’t completely convincing, it did manage to reach its goals. A donkey doesn’t hit the same stone twice, the devs thought, and they decided to make a sequel called Army of Two: The 40th Day in which the gay couple Tyson Rios and Elliot Salem could do some missions in Shanghai.
As the emphasis of the game is with co-op there’s all kinds of way to play the story. You can play alone with the help of a decent AI partner, together with a couple of friends on the couch through split-screen, or online with friends or some obscure gamer you’ve never seen. In our opinion, the game is best played online.
Team work and strategy are again a necessity if you want to succesfully finish a chapter. Just like in the first part the well-known Aggro meter is present and he who builds up most Aggro will be considered the sitting duck by the opponents. Especially in crucial scenes it’s important to take this system into account as while the majority of the hostiles focus on the Aggro-guy, the other one can quietly flank them.
One of the innovations in The 40th Day is the addition of a moral choice system. The choices you’ve made while playing have little to no influence on the story though. They vary from killing or sparing enemies to saving certain species in exchange for new weapons and cash. The consequences are made clear by means of an interesting – but not really suiting – comic cut-scene that is supposed to “show” the future. Depending on the choices made, the relationship between Salem and Rios grows stronger or thinner which results in new and better weapons.
There’s also a nice addition called “Mock Surrender” where you or your partner pretend to surrender to the enemy in the hope that they come to take you in. Once they’re close enough you can clean up things in slow motion. Last up I want to add something about the tough masks of Salem en Rios. These can be adjusted to your own means, have a handy GPS system, explain your objectives and can even tag enemies so that you can even see them through walls afterwards. The only thing you need to watch out for is the battery life of these masks as it’s quite limited.
A big plus of this game are the possibilities to adjust your weapons to the smallest details. Scopes, silencers, bigger clips, different bullets… plenty of choices can be made. The amount of weapons is also all but limited which makes the amount of combinations almost infinite and quite overwhelming.
Next to the singleplayer you can also get to work with the online multiplayer where also some innovations have been added. One of those is the Extraction mode where you have to stop waves of enemies (see it as the Firefight mode from Halo: ODST or the Horde mode from Gears of War). You play in groups of four and need to protect an area on the map which grows each round and keep this up until the 16th round. Unfortunately this was a pre-order bonus but luckily it will become available soon as a download for those that don’t have it yet.
Audiovisually the game is quite a disappointment when compared with other games these days. The city looks extremely static, buildings falling to the ground do so quite unrealistically and the many explosions really don’t look good. The tough characters are quite ok but what’s the use if all the rest looks so bad? The soundtrack is quite arousing and the voice-overs are tolerable. It seems to be a trend to use Nolan North’s voice in games these days as each time you hear Elliot Sam you think you’re hearing Nathan Drake, Desmond Miles or one of the countless other characters he’s done lately.
Army of Two: The 40th Day is an improvement on all accounts. When compared with its predecessor. However, when comparing it with other recent top titles it looks unfinished. There are some nice new things added, but this seems to have been done at the expense of the graphics which look very dated. On top of that the end credits will be passing you by after only 5 to 6 hours of playing, the multiplayer has nothing innovative to offer and the game just looks average. With all the great titles we’ve received in January and that await us this month it’s best to wait until the 40th day to arrive in the bargain bins.