Army of Two: The 40th Day Updated Hands On - Two's Company
Written Wednesday, December 16, 2009 By Dan WebbView author's profile
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.
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.
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.