Thursday, February 4, 2010

Army of Two: the 40th Day for the PS3/360 review





To be honest, it feels like most third-person or first-person shooters are pretty much looking the same. How many futuristic shooters have we seen that have a short single player mode and relies on the multiplayer mode for people to keep playing it? Same goes with the third-person shooters. I mean, beside Uncharted 2, what game had an interesting single-player mode, but no co-op, and relied on multiplayer for its longevity? While this next game I am about to review still fills the mold of the third-person shooter genre, it does have quite a few things that separate it from the rest. This time, I will be reviewing Army of Two: the 40th Day on the Playstation 3, Xbox360, and Playstation Portable. While the Army of Two series is new and brings something new to the table, it has gotten mixed reviews. It comes down to you either hate it or like it. Since I am not a big fan of third-person shooters or shooters of any kind, I decided to dip my feet into enemy territory and try this game out.

Army of Two: the 40th Day takes place in the bustling and busy city of Shanghai, a few years after the first game, where our two main heroes, Tyson Rios and Elliot Salem are now hired guns, and are doing a routine mission within the city. After completing the mission however, all hell breaks loose in Shanghai, as every building in sight starts exploding like the 4th of July or a Michael Bay film. It is now up to Tyson and Elliot to find out what the heck is going on, and for them to survive in the now even more dangerous city of Shanghai.

The game play is set up with a two-player co-op campaign mode in the form of a third-person shooter. You can play through this by your self with a computer-controlled player, but you get more out of it if you play online or offline with another person. Anyway, I will talk about the computer controls in a second. You basically go through each level pointing your gun at enemies, and shooting them until they don’t stand up anymore. Your basic armory includes a rifle, a handgun, and one special gun, like a rocket launcher or sniper rifle. An interesting thing about the co-op moves are that if you are stuck or are surrounded by enemies, you can tell your partner to distract them so you can get some air and shoot back. Other commands include advancing forward, regrouping, and stopping in place, but these commands are only if you are playing by yourself. A cool element in the game is the aggro-meter. The meter will rise if you or your partner is attracting more attention from the enemies. You will also start to glow, depending on how much the meter is full on you or your partner’s side. Another cool thing is that you get to customize your weapons with multiple abilities, like longer barrels or bigger ammo capacity or what ever. It gives the game variety, and lets you customize your gun however you want. You can also buy new guns and customize them to your liking. Of course, since this game relies on teamwork, you and your friend, or the computer can pull off team moves like grabbing and holding a high rank officer hostage, which will force the lower ranked officers to surrender. This allows you or your partner to tie them all up or kill them, but if you do kill them, it will warn nearby guards, and a gunfight will surely follow. You can also lift your friend up to higher places so he can go around and unlock a door or take out some bad guys before entering the room. Other moves include becoming an armored convoy by picking up a shield and having your partner hide behind you, opening doors, and my personal favorite, standing back-to-back, shooting your machine guns at hordes of enemies. I never got the chance to play the multiplayer, but from what I have read and seen, they’re pretty much things you would find in other shooter games, except with the two-man team theme going on. Another major element in the game is a choice system, where in certain areas, you can choose between two options, with each having a different outcome. For example, the first one you have to go through is that you can either kill the informant you work with for the first part of the level, or you can spare him. Spoiler alert! He ends up dead either way.

The graphics in the game are pretty impressive. Yeah, they will not be to the calibur of Uncharted 2 and the upcoming God of War 3, but it’s a great job, and the character designs are all pretty good. Then again, it is kind of wrong to compare this game’s graphics to those two games. I would say, they are better than Left 4 Dead 2. I also think the voice work gets an A from me for the voices of Tyson Rios done by Jonathon Adams and Elliot Salem voiced by Nolan North. I think these two brought the two main characters to life, and not make them cold-blooded killers, but instead make them as human as possible. For example, if you kill the informant, Elliot does get angry about how inhumane it is to kill someone who helped them. I like that, since the game in my opinion would be dull and boring if the two main heroes were all heartless killers. I also enjoyed the music for the game. It has a very action-film vibe, and it reminds me of Die Hard or some action film Bruce Willis has been in. The person behind the music is Tyler Bates. This guy is responsible for stuff like The Crow: City of Angels, Dawn of the Dead, 300, Watchmen, and is known for his music in the game, Rise of the Argonauts. All I have to say to that is, what an amazing list.

While this game is fun, it still has its share of faults that keep this from becoming a Triple A title. First off, I feel like the game is pretty short. You can beat this game in about 7 to 8 hours alone, or even quicker with a friend. While I enjoy the teamwork moves we get in this game, I wish there were more! For example, I think they could pull off moves that you couldn’t do alone, like use a mortar cannon, or more co-op moves or something. I wish you could use more kinds of shields, like ripping off a car door, like in one of the trailers showing Tyson ripping off a car door to use as a shield. I also wish there were more boss fights. It seems like they introduce 4 or so super soldiers, then they just recycle them. I mean, yeah, I do enjoy picking up a gattling gun after killing a guy for it, but still. I think they could have taken their time and made some pretty unique bosses. Let’s take the Metal Gear games, for example. In those games, you have to fight all these over-the-top soldiers, and not some boring armored soldier with a shotgun. After playing through the first half of this game, you will kind of realize that this game suffers from being repetitive. It just seems like you’re doing the same thing over and over again. I also think that the end of the story drags on too much near the end. It’s like they finally get a helicopter out of Shangai, but whoops! Someone shoots it down, and now they have to travel to shoot the person who is responsible for all the chaos in Shanghai in another area of the city. It gets boring pretty quickly, and I kind of wished it would have ended, by making the main villain of the game come out after the helicopter gets shot down. The AI can be pretty dumb sometimes. For example, when my partner is distracting the guards, and I’m just flanking them off, it takes about 30 seconds or more for them to notice I’m shooting them all in the head. My final complaint is with the scenario scenes where you have to do one thing or the other. They border on the ridiculous, and I found myself laughing more than being shocked. I mean, what’s the point of killing the informant in the first mission, if he ends up dead if you spare him?

Overall, Army of Two: the 40th Day is a good game, but nothing to go and spend 60 dollars on. I would say this is more on the line of the perfect rental game. I would really recommend renting it, but only if you have someone to play with. The Army of Two series is still a little undercooked, and still needs to grow, but I bet if they take their time with this next one and make it super amazing, I would make it a ‘buy it’ instead of a ‘rent it’.

This game gets a 7.8 out of 10

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