You can co-op ‘til you drop in “Army of Two.” And if you don’t co-op, you definitely will drop.

Teamwork is the key to success as a pair of mercenaries track terrorists in the third-person shooter from Electronic Arts. Gamers can either play solo, letting the console control the second member of the team, or grab a friend to join the action.

The M-rated game focuses on Elliott Salem and Tyson Rios, who start off as Rangers chasing a warlord in Somalia. They soon realize they could make a few more bucks as mercenaries employed by Security and Strategy Corp. The action then jumps ahead a few years to the Global War on Terror, with the pair fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, an aircraft carrier in the Pacific, China and eventually back in the States.

In most missions, Salem and Rios are hired to do jobs considered a little too messy for regular troops. Along the way, the game raises questions about the wisdom of using mercenaries to wage war.

With the focus on hired fighters, there’s a strong monetary incentive to complete objectives. Accomplish the primary goals and you get paid. Accomplish the secondary goals for a bonus. Cash is used to upgrade weapons and gear.

In “Army of Two,” teamwork is absolutely essential. Running into a swarm of enemies with guns blazing will almost certainly prove suicidal.

Teamwork takes on some interesting new forms, the most useful of which is Aggro. This element makes enemies focus more of their attention on the most aggressive team member. And if one teammate creates a big enough ruckus, the other can “go invisible” and sneak up on enemy positions. If a player fills his “Aggrometer” to the limit, the team can go into overkill mode, which enables them to blast away with unlimited ammo in slow motion.

In another special mode, Salem and Rios can position themselves back to back and fire continuously without worrying about running out of ammo.

These options can make online competition very interesting — or a bit unnerving when an enemy suddenly appears by your side and deliver a mortal blow. For added chaos online, console-controlled players frequently pop up to make trouble for both sides.

The graphics are above-average and the controlS are generally smooth and efficient. The game earns its M rating with a bit of strong language and some blood spurts.

Overall, the innovative teamwork elements make “Army of Two” more fantasy than fact. However, they also make the game a lot of fun — especially when playing beside a friend.

'Army of Two'

Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

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