Army of Two: The 40th Day Hands On Preview - Just the Two of Us
Written Saturday, September 26, 2009 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Army of Two: The 40th Day, or Army of Tutu if you want a giggle, is the follow up to the 2008 co-op shooter Army of Two. EA Montreal are looking to build on the foundations made by the original and as the game's Producer, Matt Turner put it, offer a more "organic co-op experience." Earlier on this week we went hands on with the title once again to put it through its paces.
So what's new and improved in AOT2? Well fans of the original will be happy to hear that the region locked co-op is no more, and aside from that, players can expect the usual Michael Bay-esque third person shooter with big explosions, lots of action and plenty of death. EA Montreal have strived to create a more interactive and less static world than the one originally created and cut-scenes are more often than not delivered in-game, now that they’ve had chance to graphically improve the engine.
When you've made decisions and accumulated cash, the cash can be then spent on your weapon customisation and the system in place is far more robust than the original. No longer are the parts restricted to each gun and the whole system has a "LEGO with guns" vibe about it. You can change barrels, stocks, clips, suppressors, skins, grips, bayonets and shields amongst other things; and this time, the parts are restricted to weapon classes, rather than the specific guns themselves. So if you want to apply a screwdriver as your bayonet, a coke can as your silencer, and a riot shield to your rifle, you can. Hell, you can even make it gold, or pimp it out to the extreme with a zebra print skin if you’re feeling particularly spritely. Obviously, there are more realistic choices as well, but we tend to focus on the outrageous... it's more fun.
The one unpolished aspect of the hands-on relied firmly on the enemy AI which was sporadic to say the least. At times the enemies will work together to flush you out; flanking you, charging at you, and flipping tables for cover to make things harder for you. But there are other times when they just seemed to miss you totally. It's clear that this is tied in to the game's "aggro system" where one person can attract the attention of enemy fire through constant aggression and extended periods of fire, but it didn’t really seem to be greatly implemented. That being said, it's a similar build to the one we saw in Germany, and so a lot may have changed in that time, and I'm sure this won't be the first time EA Montreal have heard this concern.
The demeanour of Salem and Rios has changed somewhat from the first and according to Matt Turner; they’re more like Bruce Willis in Die Hard now, rather than over-the-top like Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys. The humour is still all present and correct though and we didn’t see enough of the game to see how this change of attitude would affect the makeup of the pair. Watching them play "rock, clobbers & scissors" for the first time, or watching them punch each other is great from a camaraderie perspective and will prove to be a big hit between friends. The two won’t be faceless souls this time either as they’ll both flip up their masks when the area is clear or during cut scenes.
From a control perspective, everything is as you would expect from a third person shooter such as this. The aiming is simple, yet responsive, and the cover system works as it should. On the zoo level – the same one from the walkthrough in Cologne – there were a few instances where it would be awkward for either of the pair to make it up a set of rocks, but other than that, there were no alarming moments. I did find it relatively difficult to determine when I was close to death though, especially in the thick of a rather large fire fight, and I hope this is something that EA Montreal can tweak in the run up to the game's release.
Army of Two: The 40th Day is shaping up to be the action packed, dumb fun shooter that it set out to be. It doesn't try to be too clever or try anything too much outside its comfort zone, and delivers a good pacing of action and co-op team play. The morality moments do break-up the action and make for a welcome break of pace. Fans of the series will welcome the region free co-op and if EA Montreal can tweak a few of the minor grumbles - mainly the enemy AI and the player movement over uneven surfaces - then they'll be pleased to hear that this is shaping up to be a vast improvement over the original.
Oh... and you can use hippos as cover. How many games can boast that as a selling point?
Army of Two: The 40th Day is due out on January 8th in Europe and January 12th in North America.
Check out our interview with AOT2 Producer Matt Turner here and the developer walkthrough from GamesCom here.