The muscular mercs, Salem and Rios return under the marquee, “Fight Together, Survive Together!” in Army of Two: The 40th Day.
Army of Two: The 40th Day is the sequel to the original Army of Two that successfully established itself as a series to watch. Developed by EA Montreal, The 40th Day returns with its stars, Salem and Rios, doing what they do best, kill.
This tale of mass-murder takes the twosome into the catastrophe stricken city of Shanghai, that is being destroyed by a hailstorm of missiles. Salem and Rios, who are on a routine extermination must fight together to survive the perils of the city, and the enemy forces that are behind the bombardment. The storyline feels a lot different then the original, being more disconnected, and a hell of a lot more brutal! Army of Two: The 40th Day has traded in its grass roots appeal for a that of a jacked-up action game. This time around the action is even more over-the-top feeling like a combination of 'Die-Hard' meets 'Cloverfield', staring 'Tango and Cash' (minus the drag-queen scene).
The ridiculously big action fits right in with the rest of the characterization in Army of Two, a game that is defined by its two leads, Salem and Rios. Borrowing a page from the ‘Gears of War’ – “we have huge muscular arms” playbook, Salem and Rios add their own charm to the series as the expand on the relationship between the two quick witted friends. If you are not familiar with Army of Two than picture two extras from 'Gears of War', slapping on painted goalie masks, and arming themselves with a payload that could rival 'Rambo'.
See, Salem and Rios are mercenaries, professional killing machines, that know what they want, and how to get it. Their laid back attitude, and insouciant stance on cash for war only continues in the 40th Day as you will bankrolling another bloodstained venture. Not much has changed between the two, except that EA Montreal has added the extra touch of a few moral choices that pop up throughout the campaign.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
The moral choices do not have a huge impact on the game, but they do provide a nice distraction from Army of Two's main priority, assertive killing. The moral choices commonly comprise of someone living, or dying with the most interesting part about making decisions is that one player can take action without the others ok. In co-op, you might get some surprised reactions if you don’t talk it through with your associate, and simply make their choice for them (oh, the drama). If Army of Two continues, I think "morality" is a good route for EA Montreal to explore. Salem and Rios can only benefit a little extra diversity.
Just the Two of Us
Bringing up co-op, it is the best way to play Army for Two, because it was designed to accent a multiplayer experience. The sequel extends on the mechanics of the original by adding a few new touches to make the two-player game feel more organic. All the fundamentals from the first game continue in The 40th Day, like the ‘Agro’ bait and switch concept, ‘Stepjumping’, ‘Feign Death’, ‘Revive Partner’, ‘Back to Back’ gunplay and more. If you have played the first Army of Two, you will instantly fall into the motions. If not, the game does an admirable job teaching the ropes.
Aside from the helping your bro through the missions, The 40th Day also has implemented an all-new multiplayer experience with four new modes. Multiplayer can be enjoyed online with up to 12 players that pits a number of teams against each other, like a team-based shooter. The four Multiplayer modes are as follows. Partner Deathmatch (6 Teams of 2 Players) that involves hunting down each team. Warzone (2 Teams of 6) a type of random mission, objective based mode. Control (2 Teams of 6) hold a spot on a map, and lastly, Extraction (Team of 4) defends against an oncoming wave of enemies. Each multiplayer mode is fairly interesting, if you can find people playing the game. Even as interesting as some of the team-based gameplay can get, it is not going to be enough to pull people away from 'Modern Warfare 2'. The multiplayer is a nice diversion from everything else Army of Two has to offer. However, it is not flushed out to the same level as the campaign mode.
Diamonds on the Inside
Weapon customization returns in The 40th Day, and its been expanded with more looted up gunplay than before. At any time you can upgrade your weapon with all the outrageous additions like gold and diamond pimped up alternatives, one aspect that made the first game so memorable. In total, thousands of variations are available that tweaks more than your barrel and scope. Each modification has its own attributes making upgrading an important feature in tipping the battle in your favour. You can even purchase diamond and gold plated grenades! Now, that just seems like a waste.
Add Your Own Personal Touch
EA Montreal has also added 'Mask and Armour' customization, a topnotch addition that lets you design your own masks and armour online, and share them privately or publicly. This really makes The 40th Day stand out for clans who want the next level in unison design. There are already many choices online making for some interesting looks that range from 'Iron Man' and 'Skeletor', to 'Jessica Rabbit'. The website for Army of Two also has leaderboard support to check out how you are doing on a global scale.
Army of Two: The 40th Glitch
The 40th Day has its share of glitches. These include a number of things from your character teleporting out on area when a cut-scene is activated, to lots of graphical slowdown and screen tearing-- uh! We also had moments when our game froze completely-- and that was on PS3 hardware, something we normally do not see. During the moments, most of the glitches are laughable, and don’t really break up the gameplay, but they should have been tightened up a bit before the games release.
It seems like a lot of time wasn’t spend to work around some problems, like the teleporting characters, as it is a little lazy which goes hand-and-hand with the odd autosave points. Autosaves are another sore spot in The 40th Day with poor save placements that seem to happen at all the wrong times, and not after each major section. I am not sure if EA Montreal planned it this way, or no one really cared?, but it seems a little self-defeating.
Haven’t I seen You Before?
Lastly, if it feels like you are shooting the same person repeatedly, it is because you are. The variety of enemies is one spot that could use a good dose of variation. There are only four different types of enemies in The 40th Day; the soldier, the officer, the elite and heavy soldiers. Heavy soldiers have four types that you can fight, which really means, four different weapons, and that is about it. Since Army of Two is already overdosed in over-the-top action, why not do the same with the enemies? I think it is about time to step it up, and embrace the series outlandish concept with outlandish enemies.
EA Montreal has pumped up the action to the absurd making Army of Two: The 40th Day slightly more entertaining than the first time around. Those who enjoyed the first Army of Two title will feel right at home as you fight to survive a crumbling city of faceless enemies. Army of Two: The 40th Day has improved, although it feels a little rushed as a number of glitches become unavoidable. The design also feels a little lazy with little all around variation.
After you look past the shortcomings, the new multiplayer modes, customizable options, and excellent co-op gameplay starts to push their way foreground. This makes The 40th Day an excellent game to play online with friends, or even the old school way, in split-screen. Army of Two: The 40th Day is not going to be to everyone’s taste, but for those who enjoy the purist elements of third-person shooters, “shooting”, you fill find enough enjoyment here to fill up a couple of days of explosions.
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 01.28.10