Army of Two: The 40th Day

Army of Two: The 40th Day Updated Hands On - Two's Company

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Army of Two: The 40th Day is a game that can create friendships. It’s a game that can quite easily break friendships as well, and after spending a few hours on the opening levels recently, I can tell you one thing... the game’s co-op experience is as fun and entertaining as anything out there on the market. There are many games that we plough through week in, week out, that have co-op as a feature, but few games depend on it and thrive on it as much as EA Montreal’s latest sequel... with the exception of Borderlands maybe.

The 40th Day sees us taking control of the unlikely duo Salem and Rios once more, as they go about their usual hired-gun antics, this time in the streets of Shanghai. We kicked off the game going through the motions of a traditional mercenary in the back alleys of Shanghai. The purpose of the first 10-15 minutes is just to give you a feel for the game and its mechanics. Nothing too strenuous. Nothing too complicated. For the first mission, the mission objective is to do a job for a client as a hired gun – infiltrate and secure the package kind of thing. Shortly after the relatively easy introduction all hell breaks loose and the city of Shanghai is being brought down to a smouldering wreck around you. Your new mission objective? Get the hell out of there, although it’s not as easy as it sounds. This devastation of the city plays in with the manic, free-for-all style gunplay of the title and sets up a few clever set-pieces, including being winched down from the top of a building to ground level suspended from a giant crane with Salem and Rios having to watch out for one another.

As far as a shooter goes, The 40th Day does nothing extraordinarily special and adds nothing new to the genre per se – despite a crazy tongue-in-cheek weapon customisation system – but that’s more than okay; the reliance here is on the camaraderie between you and your co-op partner. There are no big cinematic moments that will really take your breath, but that doesn’t stop you from a quick game of rock-paper-scissors in between shootouts to break the tension. There’s nothing quite like high-fiving your partner after a particularly awesome piece of teamwork, and there’s definitely nothing like punching your teammate in the balls if he just so happens to piss you off. Everything goes here. In fact, we spent most of our time in the opening acts fist-bumping, ball busting, bear-hugging and playing rock-paper-scissors with one another. All this whilst the whole of Shanghai was tumbling around us. At least our priorities were right.

The co-op camaraderie that we’re so fond of extends into the general gameplay as well and it allows you to perform some pretty amusing fakes. Having the ability to fake your death by flopping to the floor like a fish and duping opponents with a mock surrender whilst luring them into your partner’s ambush, is what makes the game so fun. Granted, the AI is probably pretty stupid to fall for such tricks every time and it generally doesn’t come across as “advanced” at all, but that’s the beauty of the title; it doesn’t try to take itself too seriously. The game seems to have adopted the “add more enemies” stance rather than make them smarter, but again, it fits in with the pace of the game. It’s all about the action packed co-op gameplay and not how your enemies try to outsmart you.

There are instances where you’ll be given a choice to make as a team; whether it’s to steal from a locker of guns for some unique weapon parts, free some tied up hostages or even to kill your contact. The choice is effectively made by the first player to step up and press the button. You can ignore what your partner wants and press what you want before he even gets a chance to react, and it’s moments like these that can test the strength of the partnership. However, if you’re like me – diplomatic of course – you’ll stop for a minute, discuss the consequences of each action, decide on one between you and then do exactly the opposite.

The teamwork extends to ambushes, retrieving weapons caches and protecting innocents around the city as well. If you happen to choose to save a group of civilians, you will be rewarded. If you choose to let them die, you can loot them and still be rewarded, but from what we experienced, it generally paid better if you were nice. It also meant that we could sleep soundly at night too, instead of in a state of restlessness because we let digital James die a gruesome death leaving all his digital kids as digital orphans. They’ll never get that digital diploma with all that digital trauma will they!?

Speaking of trauma, the game’s pretty gruesome as well. You’ve haven’t stomped a skull until you’ve stomped it in The 40th Day. It crunches and everything!

I simply must take a minute to talk about the crazy weapon customisation that I briefly mentioned earlier. We talked about this more in our hands on preview way back in September, but we didn’t really get a proper chance to mess around with it back then. So you kick off the game with a standard rifle and $7,500 cash, to spend how you see fit. You can choose barrels, scopes, stocks and more to improve your gun and create your ideal weapon. Cash can be collected from dead enemies, by performing good deeds and getting a reward, general mission progression or by being an evil bastard... and getting a reward. To even initiate the weapon customisation setup, you need to use your co-op partner – again, the reliance on team play. Once you’re both together and out of combat, the fun can commence. So how did I spend my time and money in our hands on with The 40th Day? Simple, I added a large bayonet to the end of my assault rifle and painted it bright blue. And my sniper? A ginormous and expensive suppressor... and a layer of gold paint. If that isn’t bling, I don’t know what is. Actually I do; for $100,000 you can purchase... wait for it... a diamond encrusted grenade. We didn’t get chance to get the funds to purchase it and see its damage (which we hear is catastrophic), but come January, that bad boy is all ours!

Whilst Army of Two: The 40th Day isn’t pushing the boat out visually – the screens released thus far have obviously had some extensive after care – the game is in good stead for this coming January. The reliance is most definitely on the co-op and if The 40th Day is on your list this coming January, a good co-op partner is a must. If you can get a good co-op partner, Army of Two: The 40th Day can offer one hell of a fun and engaging co-op adventure. The story was a little wishy-washy from what we experienced, but if there is a co-op game you must buy next year, I can’t think of any games that meet the level of player interactivity and camaraderie that The 40th Day brings. Check back in early January for our final word on the matter.

Army of Two: The 40th Day is out January 8th and January 12th in Europe and North America respectively.


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Game Info
EA Montreal
Electronic Arts


US January 12, 2010
Europe January 15, 2010

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