Giant Bomb Review

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Army of Two: The 40th Day Review

3
  • X360
  • PS3

The 40th Day streamlines in spots, but it ends up feeling like a very straightforward and somewhat bland shooter.


The frat guy bro-ness of the first game has been toned down, but it's still there if you want it. 
Army of Two: The 40th Day attempts to add a layer of strategic considerations to co-op based third-person shooters. Considering the bulk of the shooter genre rarely gets more complicated than "aim reticle at face, pull trigger," getting you to do a bit of thinking as you shoot is a welcome concept, much like it was in the first Army of Two game. But the rest of the balance is off. Most of your enemies go down so quickly that as long as you utilize cover and are a decent shot, it's way faster to just aim the reticle at an enemy's face and pull the trigger. The core of The 40th Day feels decidedly hollow as a result, and this short shooter is a mostly mindless and repetitive experience.

The game is built to point you directly at the action. Though you'll get a little bit of radio chatter as the two mercenaries talk with their handler and a few other characters, the story--the reason why Shanghai is getting blasted apart--is mostly relegated to the pause menu. Once paused, you can dig out some radio recordings that are collected along the way to sort of piece together the identity the game's lead villain and maybe even a few of his motivations. Considering how poorly justified the game's activities are by those recordings, maybe it's for the best that they take a back seat to the shooting. Still, the game opens with what could have been a great hook--the absolute destruction of Shanghai. Buildings all across the skyline are ripped apart, if not by bombs, then by helicopters or planes crashing into them. The first chapter sets up some incredible-looking chaos, but there's no followthrough. Once the initial destruction is over with, the game's environments just look like any other war-torn part of the world. By the end of the game, when you finally confront the man responsible for the attack, you won't even be sure why you want to stop him so badly. Heck, I managed to get through something like 98 percent of the game without even learning the guy's name.

In what must have been an attempt to humanize the characters of Salem and Rios a bit, the game presents you with one moral quandary per chapter. It starts when your initial contact for your first mission turns out to be on your shadowy employer's hit list. Do you kill the guy that helped you get through the early part of the game for a little extra cash, or have you become attached to him in the game's first five or ten minutes? When these moments hit, you're given two button presses that choose which moral path you'll take. After that, the game cuts to a series of static, comic book-like images that extrapolate your actions into some sort of eventual conclusion. In the above example, killing the guy shows a few shots of his face and his ID, attempting to drive the point home that you killed a man after you've just spent the last few minutes gunning down plenty of other men. If you let him live, the sequence shows your new best friend sitting on a beach... where he's killed by an assassin. The "good guy" choices too often end with this sort of "oh, well, he died anyway" or "the person you thought you saved was a bad person" twist, which makes the whole system a little ugly because it's constantly hitting you over the head with the notion that no choice is the right choice.

Sticking together is still your best bet for survival. 
For the most part, the gameplay in The 40th Day hasn't changed too much over its predecessor. It's still a co-operative shooter that places some level of importance on drawing or avoiding the enemy's attention. This is illustrated via an on-screen aggro meter that sways back and forth between Salem and Rios. The player doing the most shooting, typically, is deemed the biggest threat by the game's opposition. This sets up opportunities for the other player to flank around the side of enemy positions and take them out while their attention is elsewhere. You can also influence the amount of aggro drawn by your antics by upgrading your weapon. Silencers and camouflage patterns make your gun seem like less of a threat than a big, loud rifle with a 100-round drum attached to it. As in the previous game, you can also buy a "pimped" design for the gun that decks it out in gaudy gold. I can't blame the game's enemies for wanting to blast a guy coming at them with a big gold gun. If you're feeling extra luxurious, you can also upgrade to gold, diamond-encrusted grenades... which don't seem to provide any benefit at all.

While the aggro system works as intended, it's rarely a necessity. As you upgrade your firepower to bigger and better rifles, you'll be taking down the basic enemies with only a few shots. The guns feel overpowered, and as a result it's far easier to just take cover and eliminate every enemy in range with short bursts of assault rifle fire than it is to set up a situation where one player draws attention while the other slips around the side. The exception is that you'll occasionally face heavily armored enemies that need to be shot in the back.

Though the seven-chapter campaign is certainly better with a live human controlling your partner, the game can, of course, be played alone. When doing so, you'll be able to give a few orders to your partner, which lets you control when he'll advance, when he'll stick by your side, and when he'll stop and take cover. This lets you order your partner to sit still and lay down enough cover fire to give you a chance to run around, plinking enemies off one by one. In the event that you get dropped by the opposition, your partner can drag you to safety and shoot you full of life-giving drugs, which get you back up on your feet immediately. The dragging controls are a little off, and when you're playing with an AI-controlled partner, he never seems too clear on the concept of dragging you to safety before attempting to heal you. This results in a lot of dumb, preventable deaths when playing alone. This was a problem in the first game, too, and it's sort of surprising that it hasn't been addressed.

In addition to the campaign, there are also a few different multiplayer modes. Extraction--a "bonus" mode that will only be available to people that pre-ordered the game for 30 days after the game's launch--is a wave-based survival mode that lets four players work through 16 waves of enemy opposition. As you proceed, you move to different portions of a given map and the enemies get tougher. Since players can revive and reload each other, sticking together is rewarded. The rest of the online mode pits players against other players in teams. Even the game's deathmatch mode sticks to the Army of Two mentality by grouping you into teams of two. There's also a control point capture mode and warzone, which throws different types of objectives at you, one after the other, without leaving the map. The multiplayer modes allow for up to 10 players and can be played across six different maps. You're limited to a few different loadouts and weapon types in the multiplayer, which is unfortunate, since the gun customization is one of the best things about The 40th Day. As opposed to the single-player, where you feel like you're gunning down enemies with only a shot or two, the multiplayer combatants are more resilient, making the guns feel weak. There's dissonance between the two sides of Army of Two, and neither feels quite right.

The mounted guns are fun, but too inaccurate to be useful. 
While the ripped-up city of Shanghai ends up making for a generic-feeling backdrop for the action, the early parts of the game, which is when most of the explosions and collapsing buildings are found, look great. You'll get some nice shots of the Shanghai skyline, giving you a front-row seat as the city crashes down around you. Salem and Rios look appropriately tough, though the enemy variety is perhaps a bit lacking. The sound is also effective, from the different ways your guns can sound depending on if they're well-silenced or designed to draw as much attention as possible, to the voice acting. Video gaming's favorite leading man, Nolan North, steps into the role of Salem for this sequel, which, depending on if you're tired of hearing Nathan Drake pop up in every third game or not, will either fit the wise-cracking character perfectly or drive you insane.

The 40th Day has a couple of technical glitches, and the 360 version of the game locked up on me a couple of times. But for the most part, it's a technically competent shooter with co-operative play. For some, that's plenty. But if you're more discerning about your shooters, you'll probably get bored of this one before you've seen the end credits.     Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
42 Comments
Posted by NickM

Meh, didn't like the demo.

Posted by Rhaknar

no interest in this game at all, and the review did nothing to change this

Posted by natetodamax

Sounds like a lame game.

Online
Posted by JJOR64

The demo was OK.  I'm still not interested in the game though.

Posted by Kohe321

Great review, this score is what I expected after seing the quick look.

Posted by Carlos1408

Yeap still no interest in this game lol...

Posted by buzz_killington

Huh. It seems like Jeff liked the first game better when it came out than its sequel, that has been fixed but not fixed enough.

Posted by HydraHam

i love the game, for people judging by demo don't.. the demo doesn't do the game justice, i wouldn't pay 60 for it but i am having tons of fun playing through the SP, COOP and that new mode they added, ill be keeping it from gamefly for awhile.

Posted by TheHBK

Why is a gun feeling overpower always a comment?  I would say that guns can only be underpowered in games for the most part.  If a gun kills a guy with one shot to the foot, then yes overpowered.  But 2 or 3 shots is not over powered.  Maybe closer to realistic than one would like though.  But come on, having underpowered guns is the problem when it takes you out of the experience to see a guy still walking at you after taking 5 shots to the chest.

Posted by Spookie

Nice to see I'm not the only person who found it the polar opposite of GoW in the sense you could fart in someones direction and drop them. Ironic then that, like GoW, it's as dull as dishwater!

Posted by Death_Burnout

Yeah, it is a little bland no doubt, the original in my mind is better, but i still like this game, even though now they still cant seem to get the hand placement on the gun attatchments so good...
 
I think its the negative attraction this "series" gets that actually bugs me more than anything, there's so many "meh's" and "shits" thrown about. I cant remember who said it, but "Army of Shit" is probably the most pathetic put down i've ever seen.

Posted by Jimbo

I hope 2010 is the year the Gears mechanic dies a death.  This game has been released about 14,000 times in the last three years.
 
This game seems to sum up exactly what is wrong with EA's 'Design by Bullet Point' attitude.  It's like they've just gone down a list of things that worked for other companies (Gears mechanic?  Check!  Bro-ing out?  Check!  Nathan Drake? Check!  Horde mode? etc.), crammed them all into a game, failed to surpass any of the games they are taking them from, and then put the game out a year after everybody has moved on to other things.  
 
When this flops, EA need to sack whoever it is over there that keeps greenlighting shitty, unimaginative sequels -to IP which didn't exactly set the world alight the first time around- and hire somebody with some balls.

Posted by TheFreeMan

Given what I've played so far I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with this review, but it was still well-written. So far, I'd give it a solid 4/5, because the moments I've had in co-op have been so ridiculously crazy they could've been scripted. Really liking this so far, which is a big surprise.

Posted by Venatio

I really wanna play this game because I think it looks like alot of fun but I really don't wanna buy it lol

Posted by kagekage

The game was an improvement, but that's still not saying much.

Posted by Hoffer

Played the first game for about 90 minutes before throwing it out the window.  Played the demo of part 2 this afternoon and it too is not for me.

Posted by spilledmilkfactory

while this was a good review that made some good points, i'm (surprisingly, given that i hated the first game) going to have to disagree. i'd say this is a 4/5 star game. and i'd just like to point out, the review complains that this game is straightforward and mindless, but modern warfare 2 is more straightforward and more mindless, and game critics praised it. but yeah, the issues that jeff pointed out with single player AI and aggro not really being necessary are spot on. that's why i've been playing co-op on hard mode, which is frankly a blast.

Posted by Xeiphyer
@spilledmilkfactory said:
" while this was a good review that made some good points, i'm (surprisingly, given that i hated the first game) going to have to disagree. i'd say this is a 4/5 star game. and i'd just like to point out, the review complains that this game is straightforward and mindless, but modern warfare 2 is more straightforward and more mindless, and game critics praised it. but yeah, the issues that jeff pointed out with single player AI and aggro not really being necessary are spot on. that's why i've been playing co-op on hard mode, which is frankly a blast. "
I've been having fun playing it with a friend too, but I think saying that the story in Army of Two: The 40th Day is superior to Modern Warfare 2 is insane. MW2's story wasn't straightforward at all, it had twists and crazy shit happening in it all the time. 
 
Alas though, shooter's storylines are not always that great, and when the premise is shooting dudes, its hard to do other things. I agree with Jeffs review because a 4 star review would warrent a game that is good, but held back by a few minor issues. 
 
Army of Two:Two (heh), has some pretty serious problems that hold it back from being a really great game. I love the gun customization and all the strategies and different ways to take down enemies. Grabbing a dude to use as a hostage, tieing up enemies, or mock surrendering and then quickdrawing on the enemies are awesome!
 
I just wish this game could have had more time for polish, and a better storyline that didn't feel like it was only included because they felt obligated to include it. I'm still having fun playing it with a friend, but its sad that it isn't the game it should have been. The series has serious potential.
Posted by Milkman

Not surprised at all.

Posted by spilledmilkfactory
@Xeiphyer said:
" @spilledmilkfactory said:
" while this was a good review that made some good points, i'm (surprisingly, given that i hated the first game) going to have to disagree. i'd say this is a 4/5 star game. and i'd just like to point out, the review complains that this game is straightforward and mindless, but modern warfare 2 is more straightforward and more mindless, and game critics praised it. but yeah, the issues that jeff pointed out with single player AI and aggro not really being necessary are spot on. that's why i've been playing co-op on hard mode, which is frankly a blast. "
I've been having fun playing it with a friend too, but I think saying that the story in Army of Two: The 40th Day is superior to Modern Warfare 2 is insane. MW2's story wasn't straightforward at all, it had twists and crazy shit happening in it all the time.   Alas though, shooter's storylines are not always that great, and when the premise is shooting dudes, its hard to do other things. I agree with Jeffs review because a 4 star review would warrent a game that is good, but held back by a few minor issues.   Army of Two:Two (heh), has some pretty serious problems that hold it back from being a really great game. I love the gun customization and all the strategies and different ways to take down enemies. Grabbing a dude to use as a hostage, tieing up enemies, or mock surrendering and then quickdrawing on the enemies are awesome!  I just wish this game could have had more time for polish, and a better storyline that didn't feel like it was only included because they felt obligated to include it. I'm still having fun playing it with a friend, but its sad that it isn't the game it should have been. The series has serious potential. "
by saying that mw2 was more straightforward than army of two, i was more referring to the gameplay than the story, since you can make morality choices, flank enemies, etc in the 40th day, but mw2 has you on a straight line most of the time. and i'm not tryna say that the 40th day is superior to mw2, cuz it's not, but i'd just like to point out that no critics really complained when the twists and turns in mw2 made no sense and the gameplay was linear as can be. 
 
and yeah, as a side note, i just finished the game tonight, and still had no idea what was going on in the story :-P
Edited by Death_Burnout

Oh great, the game decided to not save any of my data yet i can still play from my last chapter...1 star!
 
i've just read up that it's a common bug, people are losing their unlocked weapons and stats
 
im starting to wonder if its the previous army of two save "unlocking" the bonus weapons early that's causing this, it does keep giving me the message every time i start.

Posted by Yummylee

Was never too fussed over it till i saw the giantbomb quick look. I won't be rushing out for it anytime soon, but the amount of customisation options for your weapons looks fun enough that it should eventually find itself apart of my collection.
Edited by Death_Burnout

OK! the game just froze on me...loaded up the game again, Lost all my weapons and stats! just because of this old save unlocking bonus weapon crap...am i gunna have to delete my old Army of Two save to get rid of this? this is offensive!
 
Ok i deleted my old saves and it still doesnt save my weapon data...so i did that for nothing...is this like a PAL version problem or something!?

Posted by Turtlemayor333

Question for anyone, how did the first game do financially? Reason for my asking is that I just don't know anybody who has ever cared about Army of Two. The informed audience knows that they just made the game by bullet points (as was said earlier) and the uninformed audience...doesn't really seem to care either. At least from what I can tell. Maybe it's sold a million copies already and I just didn't hear about it, but this game seems to be one big identity crisis.

Posted by MeatSim

Yea the demo didn't wow me at all and the only thing that's really compelling is all the broing out.

Posted by JoelTGM

The first game was meh.  I'm not interested in spending $60 on the sequel, especially when I need the money for Uncharted 2 (still), God of War 3, Gran Turismo 5, Heavy Rain, Bad Company 2, and whatever else is coming.

Edited by anigmha

Seeing how the quick look was played solo and that it was filmed in the middle of the review, I find it difficult to trust this review. I played the first one split-screen with a friend and had a blast. The reviewer, on the other hand, seems to have played it alone, which is silly because it is called Army of TWO for a reason. Furthermore, in the quick look, he said he was playing it on normal. If you're a hardcore gamer who plays shooters regularly, you should be playing it on the harder settings. Maybe then your guns won't feel "overpowered" and the aggro is actually necessary. Just saying.

Posted by Anund
@Turtlemayor333 said:
" Question for anyone, how did the first game do financially? Reason for my asking is that I just don't know anybody who has ever cared about Army of Two. The informed audience knows that they just made the game by bullet points (as was said earlier) and the uninformed audience...doesn't really seem to care either. At least from what I can tell. Maybe it's sold a million copies already and I just didn't hear about it, but this game seems to be one big identity crisis. "
I take it the "informed audience" in this case consists of people reading about the previous game but who never played it? Army of Two is not a great single player game, but for co-op it's the best I have played and that's coming from someone who played both Gears of War games, Halo 3 and Resistance. 
 
In single player, Army of Two is not good, in co-op (splitscreen) it's definitely a solid experience.
Posted by Antim0n

Seems like every game is locking up on you recently Jeff. 
 
Time to take the 360 for a check-up at ye olde doctor?

Posted by Death_Burnout
@Antim0n: Nah dude, this game shipped broken!
Posted by Anemeros

I think the game deserves better. It's technically much-improved over the first; the choices add to it's replayability; and the customization is brilliant. It seems weird, but the design mask thing was actually the hook for a guy like me, the creative gamer. There's just no satisfaction like hearing your co-op friend react to the Jason mask you're wearing during a cutscene...

Posted by Lind_L_Taylor

HAHAH!!...yet another shitty game.

Posted by Slippy

Nolan North again... 

Posted by Media_Master

I'll pass on this.

Posted by JessicaBoo
@Rhaknar: I think is each one to their own, i think the guys did a good job of this, I believe that this game is for a certain amount of people that have a like for 3 person shooters.  
 
The game looks sweet and i love the new things you can do. Not forgetting that when GBomb do the video reviews just makes me want to play the game more and more.!  
 
Peace out! 
Posted by 32Yoda4ever

It looks like an -ok- game , gotta try it.
Posted by Brockly46

surprise suprise

Posted by Roosterreece

Hello Gamers, 
I have have and completed this game and I have to admit I thought it was fantastic. I liked the way you can create your own mask online and show it off to your friends online. At the start of this game I just could not get used to the camera angle as it was a option of a left or right 3rd person view (which can not be changed) but I must admit I got used to it after a few levels. I think the best part of the game is making the decisions (eg. I decide to kill a aggresive Tiger but I really, really regret it, you'll have to find out why in the game) some decisions are sad although some are very funny. I love having a game of rock, paper, sissors with my team mate whilst being shot at by a boss. (Everyone who wants to know how, just walk up to your team mate and press the Y button) Anyway I think I have said what I need to say, so if you want to find out more, I sugest you but the game 
 
Thanks for reading, 
Roosterreece 
 
My Rating 4/5 Stars (Good)

Posted by Galiant

I got it cheap today and I'm glad I did, playing online co-op with my friend is a blast =)

Posted by synapse720

Didn't play the first one but three missions deep in this one and I'm bored to tears. (send me red dead mf-ing gamefly!)

Posted by DonPixel
@Jimbo said:
" I hope 2010 is the year the Gears mechanic dies a death.  This game has been released about 14,000 times in the last three years.   This game seems to sum up exactly what is wrong with EA's 'Design by Bullet Point' attitude.  It's like they've just gone down a list of things that worked for other companies (Gears mechanic?  Check!  Bro-ing out?  Check!  Nathan Drake? Check!  Horde mode? etc.), crammed them all into a game, failed to surpass any of the games they are taking them from, and then put the game out a year after everybody has moved on to other things.    When this flops, EA need to sack whoever it is over there that keeps greenlighting shitty, unimaginative sequels -to IP which didn't exactly set the world alight the first time around- and hire somebody with some balls. "
Wooow.. Let´s just kill one of the best, most fun game mechanics out there because of this mediocre title.. Makes perfect sense!!
Posted by Jimbo
@DonPixel said:
" @Jimbo said:
" I hope 2010 is the year the Gears mechanic dies a death.  This game has been released about 14,000 times in the last three years.   This game seems to sum up exactly what is wrong with EA's 'Design by Bullet Point' attitude.  It's like they've just gone down a list of things that worked for other companies (Gears mechanic?  Check!  Bro-ing out?  Check!  Nathan Drake? Check!  Horde mode? etc.), crammed them all into a game, failed to surpass any of the games they are taking them from, and then put the game out a year after everybody has moved on to other things.    When this flops, EA need to sack whoever it is over there that keeps greenlighting shitty, unimaginative sequels -to IP which didn't exactly set the world alight the first time around- and hire somebody with some balls. "
Wooow.. Let´s just kill one of the best, most fun game mechanics out there because of this mediocre title.. Makes perfect sense!! "
That post is about 15 months old, but I stand by everything I said.  It needed killing because it had been run into the ground by dozens of mediocre me-too titles, not just this one.  As it happens, people did start getting burned on those titles last year (Dark Void, K&L2, Vanquish...) so I don't think it's going to be seen as the go-to game blueprint for people looking to make a quick and easy buck anymore.  This fad has run its course.

Gears can still get away with it because it's their genre. Mass Effect can because of everything else that game has.  Uncharted can because PS3 doesn't have Gears.  Everybody else needs to try harder.