Annoying issues hold this sequel back.
Salem and Rios are on a routine mission in Shanghai, the city comes under attack from an unknown PMC. As all hell breaks loose, the two mercs have one thing in mind – get out of the city at all costs. On paper this set-up in an controlled area seems like a good base for a decent plot. The 40th Day almost has no plot at all. In fact, I was at the 70% mark of the game and literally knew as much as I did when the game opened.
With that said, EA Montreal inserted a “save the civilians” mechanics. There will be a few situations were you'll enter a room full of Contractors holding civilians hostage. This is one of the cool aspects of the game, for you and your partner have to try and kill your foes quickly and silently. If successful, you'll get a decent paycheck per hostage that survived. The game also offers the obligatory moral choices, that feels like most other things in this game, small and meaningless. At no point do you ever feel repercussion for bad decisions, it's typically more rewarding to do whatever sounds good at the time. The story does slap your wrist for being naughty, but it typically holds back rewards that are equivalent to what you got by making morally incorrect choices.
The WoW-inspired aggro system returns in full-force. A lot of the environments and enemies encourage one player to draw all the attention while the partner sneaks around for a surprise attack, or snipe. This is actually a well-robust mechanic that I hope other games pick up on. Aggro forces players to play together with some coordination.
The 40th Day has a store for players to purchase weapons, weapons parts, and overall upgrades like the ability to carry more ammo. The game revolves around a concept of “lego guns”. You don't just buy an M4 and upgrade its firing rate, or whatever. Instead, buy that M4 and maybe attach an AK-47 barrel on it to gain more aggro, put on ammo drum, and install a SCAR butt-stock for higher precision. The major downside is the whole store interface is really sluggish, I just feel that everything takes much longer than it should.
Army of Two has a laundry list of problems that weigh down any enjoyment that could be had. The most irksome problem is the poor controls. The A button is your go-to button for just about anything including running, dodge rolls, and picking up your downed friend. It was very common for me to be down (thanks to the game's horrible indication that your taking damage) and instead of my friend coming to the rescue, he sprints passed me, rolls over a car, and does a lot of other things instead of actually saving me. If you manage to actually save your friend, the game forces you to drag them for about 1-3 seconds before resurrection can occur. This is incredibly frustrating, and was the result of most of my Game Over screens.
The annoyances don't stop there. The 40th Day's terrible check point system saves far too infrequently. This forces you to re-watch cutscenes, and re-fight large groups of potentially difficult foes. The game also doesn't save after you customize your weapons. So guess what, you know the 5-10 minutes you spent on building your sweet gun? Well, you're going to have to re-buy everything and have a do-over.
The most offensive hindrance is the lack of situational awareness. It's common for you to be attacked by an enemy that's hard get a visual on, and for bad guys to spawn behind you in already cleared areas with no warning. I'm not trying to say games should be holding our hands, but I felt like when I played games like Gears of War and GRAW I knew what was going on around me. Seeing as how you if you die you have to re-customize and re-watch cutscenes, this letdown is really dramatic.
The multiplayer is a little better by comparison. The most notable (pre-order only) mode being the Horde-like Extraction mode. It puzzles me why EA didn't include any ranking structure, character progression, or weapon customization to the online side of the game. It's probably fare to say Army of Two's competitive multiplayer won't be the selling point of the game. However, it's a nice distraction.
With numerous co-op action games available these days, it's nearly impossible to recommend Army of Two. The actual shooting mechanics are a little better than its predecessor, but this sequel ditches a lot of the personality the original had. I thought Army of Two was all about being ridicules and over-the-top, but it's obvious at some point The 40th Day was written to be a more serious contender in the ring of third-person action. The game still has fist-bumps, but nothing else really stand out other than a lot of stupid frustrations that make the game feel underdeveloped which is disappointing considering the game had some neat ideas.