catalystx's Army of Two: The 40th Day (Xbox 360) review

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Army of Two: The 40th Day Review

I am a fan of co-op games. I enjoy playing a game with a friend, so naturally Army of Two was a game on my radar. I was very underwhelmed with the first game, and I figured EA Montreal could take their core concepts, and build a compelling and exciting sequel. Although new ideas are introduced, and with more emphasis could have made a better game, are secondary and have little effect on the general experience which is largely the same as the first game.

You start the game on a mission for your mercenary company T.W.O. in Shanghai. Shortly into the mission/tutorial all hell breaks loose around you as buildings explode and planes crash right below you. At that point, your mission becomes leaving Shanghai alive, making moral decisions along the way. The moral decisions could have been better, they are generally extreme situations with no moral ambiguity. Either you are very evil, or very good, there isn’t much middle ground, and it has a limited effect on the gameplay. Generally, the evil decisions result in more money or weapons, while the good decisions hardly give you anything except maybe warm fuzzy feelings? As far as story goes, both myself and my co-op partner found it made no sense at all. Once you finally get to the end of the game, you get a horrible evil mastermind explanation for the destruction of Shanghai, and then it’s over. It might be one of the worst stories I have experienced from games I have played in recent memory.

If you played the first Army of Two, you’ll know what to expect while playing The 40 Day. This is a co-op third person shooter with a cover system. Although some aspects are a bit more refined, I still had trouble with the context sensitive action button. My biggest problem was while trying to revive my partner, I would end up sprinting forward instead and being killed. The shooting mechanics work fine, but it reminds me so much of other better games with more exciting shootouts. Army of Two felt so repetitive, with no real variety aside from the odd elite type enemy. The option to sneak around in certain parts was welcome, allowing you to avoid some altercations simply by grabbing hold of a high ranking enemy and forcing the lower ranks to drop to their knees, while your partner ties them up. The cover system also works really well, you can seamlessly move into and out of cover with natural movement, so you never feel stuck to cover like most cover based third person shooters.

Initially the city falling apart around you was cool, but that also got repetitive. You’ll be running along and all of the sudden everything stops to show you another building falling apart, and you can’t skip any cut scenes! So second time through (if you can muster the will), you’ll probably be real tired of these annoying pauses. The 40 Day is also visually very similar to its predecessor. By today’s standards, it looks very average and plain. Some environments looked neat, and one level in particular looked snazzy with everything a washed out grey except for some bright red flyers sprinkled around.

One major problem I had during my experience was playing co-op online with a friend. Both of us have very stable connections, and were frustrated to find our game would constantly disconnect on us. At least every 15 minutes the game would stop us cold telling each of us that the other had disconnected from the game, yet our Live party remained intact. If we were starting to get on a roll, it would be quickly halted by these constant disconnects. Another issue we had would be both our consoles freezing at the same time.

Another unimpressive feature is the sound. Though the music sounded pretty good later on in the game, the sound the guns made was pathetic. I found for some reason they were really quiet and didn’t sound like they were packing any kind of real punch. Everything else sounded normal, but even with a muzzle enhancer the guns I used sounded too quiet. I want my guns to make a bang, not sound like a pea shooter.

You could probably expect to finish The 40 Day in about 6 hours your first time through. If you play online, perhaps expect to play double that if your experience is anything like mine with constant disconnects. There is a competitive online multiplayer mode as well focusing on the co-op mechanics, but poor hit detection and laggy servers won’t garner much longevity beyond the somewhat boring single player campaign.

Despite all that being said I didn’t hate playing Army of Two: The 40 Day, but I didn’t like it much either. It is a relatively competent shooter, but with so many other better games out there with co-op, I can’t highly recommend this to everyone. The partner AI is decent enough to enjoy the experience single player, and split screen co-op would probably be the way to go if you have similar online issues like I did. I think the most fun I had was laughing with my buddy about how ridiculous some of the stuff in this game was. Approach this one with caution.    

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