Major Improvement from Original
I actually kinda liked the original game, though the main characters were utter knuckleheads. I certainly did not expect a sequel to be forthcoming after the original, though it apparently sold rather well.
The sequel takes place in Shanghai and Salem and Rios are in Shanghai when all hell breaks loose. And, literally, ALL HELL breaks loose. A former military leader attempts to take over China via threat of nuclear weapons and a few thousand troops. It all takes place over a single day and you are trying to get you and your PMC buddy out of Shanghai alive...and, hopefully, markedly more wealthy than you were yesterday. It is an outstanding disaster movie where some incredible set pieces occur. In one scene, you have explosions causing skyscrapers to be knocked over into other skyscrapers in one of the cooler scenes in gaming.
The game is, as the original, focused on co-op play. Salem and Rios are private military contractors seeking fame and fortune.They are close --- almost creepy close. Fortunately, EA Montreal has realized just how weird they made their relationship because they now acknowledge it --- if you and your partner are as close as possible, you go from "Friendly" to "Ambiguous". Cute. You can also turn your partner completely against you (he will still help you, so there seems to be few negative ramifications), so that's always nice.
This sequel, though, has definitely cleaned up a lot of the issues with the original game. The storyline makes, you know, ACTUAL sense. The original had you hopping back and forth in time --- this time, it's a day with a...OK, admittedly silly storyline with wacky disasters aplenty (watching a helicopter lose control and smash a tank through a high-rise is a cool visual). The enemy AI is really solid. The computer is viciously clever with their tactics. They will flank you incessantly. They will lob grenades to flush you out and then kill you. They will use fire to get drive you into a crossfire killzone. You can also do FAR more work in terms of weapon customization. True, you can still pimp your gun, but you can ACTUALLY make the gun better. Your secondary weapon option is bullshit, but you have tons of options for your primary gun (SMG, assault rifle, or shotgun) and special weapon (sniper rifle, grenade launcher, etc). The only problem is that your partner is still borderline retarded. There were several missions where I had to keep my partner WELL away from the action because, in the end, if EITHER of you two die, you lose. Your partner will die a lot more than you do.
You also have alternative options. You can try and save hostages, which is usually a challenge. You can choose to use a hostage to free other hostages or you can try to kill everybody who is holding the hostage. You also have to make moral choices --- which, well, usually leads to a bad outcome. One early example has you stealing weapons from a locker and a single guard catches you. You can keep the weapons which leads to his death, or you can return the weapons and he'll betray you to your enemies. It makes your choice seem so utterly pointless, but it is a nice addition but one that is a total cliche as EVERY GAME seems to have moral choices now.
This game is hard. Rape you in the ass hard. You will die frequently. Hard to avoid it, sadly. But you can eventually find the way to beat an area and when you do, it feels like you've accomplished something. MP is a fucking disaster, though. Lag is a crippling problem. It might be the worst MP experience I've ever seen. And because the game is basically all deathmatch-based, it makes playing it an exercise in futility. Perhaps EA can fix it --- but even if they do, they will turn the servers off in 2 years anyway.
AoT: TFD is a blast. Pure adrenaline game with a harsh, but tolerable, difficulty curve. Well worth the time to play.