‘Army of Two: The 40th Day’: Enlist now
January 17, 2010
When you help make a mess, you need to help clean it up.
That’s the moral of "Army of Two: The 40th Day," the M-rated shooter from Electronic Arts.
Tyson Rios and Elliot Salem are a pair of mercenaries hired to place some electronic devices around the city of Shanghai. However, the two have a definite "oops moment" when they watch missiles rain down on the spots where they planted the electronics and an army of other mercenaries descends on the Chinese metropolis. They decide escape is the best option.
It’s your job to guide the pair through the blasted streets or, even better, team up with a friend for a co-op escape adventure.
It’s definitely a two-man adventure, with help needed for climbing walls, healing wounds, sneaking up on enemies or sniping multiple foes. The game also offers some unusual options, such as a back-to-back fighting stance that’s very useful in target-rich environments. It’s cool, but you’ll get much more use out of the "aggro" feature. When one member of the team creates a lot of commotion — blazing away with his rifle, throwing grenades and such — the enemies focus on him and ignore his teammate. This enables the "hidden" member to flank and take out enemies with less risk.
This is all pretty similar to the original "Army of Two." The major change is the addition of an excellent karma system, which adds some fascinating layers to the story. At various points during the story, you will be asked how to react to a character you’ve encountered. Do you shoot that mercenary? Do you tell the kid to pick up the rifle? Do you let the creepy guy go into the room with the frightened woman? In most cases, you have to decide between being honorable or taking a nice wad of cash. Whatever you decide, you see a brief cut scene that details the results of your decision. Most play out in interesting and unexpected ways. In addition to these occasions, you will encounter many civilians being held by the invading mercenaries. You must decide whether to go in with guns blazing — possibly killing the hostages — or to incapacitate the enemies through less lethal means. Hint: Freed civilians are usually very generous.
These and other interactions require a control scheme that’s a bit complex. As a result, I spent a while doing things like hurling grenades instead of sneaking up and incapacitating hostage-holding foes. However, after overcoming the learning curve, the controls seemed second nature.
The campaign is on the short side — clocking in at about five hours, which seems to be a trend among shooting games. The game is very linear. Exploration will reveal a few treats, but there’s little that isn’t directly related to the story line. The game offers online co-op and competitive modes and a survival mode.
The firefights are generally intense and challenging. Although the enemies aren’t the brightest, they’re plentiful enough and deadly enough to require a good amount of cooperation — meaning wise use of "aggro."
The graphics are very good. The character renderings and animations are realistic and detailed and the gritty Shanghai settings are filled with depth and texture.
Overall, "The 40th Day" is an exciting co-op adventure and a worthy follow-up to the original "Army of Two."
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 (tested), PlayStation Portable
On the Web:www.armyoftwo.com