Army of Two: The 40th Day

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So nearly two years later Salem and Rios, the Army of Two, mercenaries for hire are back with a sequel that strives to improve on the original in many ways. What those ways are, aren’t very clear to me since the game barely brings anything new to the table. In fact I would go as far as saying that the sequel is a step back for the franchise.

In AoT: TFD Salem and Rios find themselves in a near apocalyptic scenario in Shanghai. This is very much a man made one so don’t go expecting demons and fire balls to reign down from the sky; what you will witness from time to time are tons of structures being torn apart like there’s no tomorrow. Sadly all the mayhem and destruction is restricted to the first two levels after which the game transcends into a generic war torn scenario 101.

What boggles the mind is the fact that the story is so poorly told I couldn’t figure out WTF was going on even after I finished the game. Who was behind this scenario? What caused it? How are Salem and Rios a part of it? And was Yoda really in the game? Making matters worse was the fact that the Xbox360 version of this game has the softest dialogue I have witnessed in a game ever. Even after pumping up my TV’s volume to the max I could barely hear a word that was being said on screen. Oh and if there’s any sort of orchestral music playing in the back ground you can forget about hearing pretty much anything.

Like the first game Agro is the name of the game here. Keep shooting at an enemy to draw agro during which all their fire is focused on you leaving your partner (controlled by a friend or the AI) to sneak up on them and finish the job. It’s a simple formula that works well for most of the game becoming a tad tedious towards the end when the game throws pretty much everything including the kitchen sink at you in a bid to seem "tougher". Online co-op, something this game is built around considering the name and all doesn’t fare too well either. During my online co-operative session with a mate I must have been disconnected from the game at least 7 to 8 times in under two hours. Making matters even more frustrating is the fact that the game has the most anal checkpoint system in recent history forcing you to back track like crazy if you get disconnected or die. Oh and you can’t for the love of God skip any cut-scene in the game ever.
Once you do get past these mighty annoying kooks (which I’m hoping EA patches up ASAP) there is a slightly enjoyable game to be found here especially if you’re playing it with a friend. I really couldn’t see myself playing the campaign alone with a bot. It’s just too boring and drab. If co-operative gaming is not your thing you will be very disappointed with the game’s Versus component. I couldn’t find a single playable server for nearly half an hour and every time I opted for a Quick Match I was the only one in the server. After trying for nearly two days I gave up all hopes of playing multiplayer.

It’s been two years since the first game and even now gameplay mechanics don’t feel refined. Moving your character is still a clumsy process. Assigning running and taking cover to the same key will more often than not result in your demise and the shooting mechanics are just plain clunky. Each and every weapon sounds like a pea shooter and the what’s worse is that the selection is just appalling with just three pistols to choose from, out of which one wouldn’t even maim an ant. Even grenades are so underpowered I think I would have been better off throwing rocks at my opponents.

The game introduces so called Moral Choices in a bid to seem less transparent but fails miserably in doing so as no matter what choices you make throughout the game – be they good or evil – it never affects the story or the two main characters.

The only aspect of the game that does feel worked upon is in the visual department. Both Salem and Rios are pretty well detailed and look like they’re going through hell as the game progresses. Level detail while pretty bland and urban has a few surprises up its sleeve most of which are used in the first half of the game leaving the second half extremely tedious and monotonous. Frame rates hold up sturdy for most part of the game dipping when the action gets a bit too intense on-screen.

Ubisoft listened to all the criticism levied at Assassin’s Creed and made AC II a lot better. Pity EA haven’t done the same with Army of two. The game while fun to a certain extent is bogged down by tons of issues, both technical and gameplay related that prevent it from reaching its true potential. With a little bit of work Army of Two: The 40th Day, could have given Gears of War 2 a run for its money but as it stands, Gears 2 still reigns supreme as far as an enjoyable co-operative experience is concerned.

Published Date: Feb 09, 2010 09:58 am | Updated Date: Feb 09, 2010 09:58 am