Shanghai is going pear shaped, and our guys are stuck in the middle. It is lucky that they are such menly men…
Army of Two: The 40th Day is published by EA and available on the Xbox360, PS3 and PSP.
I don’t know about you guys, but I love co-op gaming. Co-op across the internet is fine, but nothing beats sitting next to the person you are teamed up with and enjoying the experience locally. Most games that offer co-op seem to have added it as an after thought, or extra. So when Army of Two came out, a dedicated co-op shooter, I was really excited. Sadly, that excitement did not last long, as I soon discovered that the game had some serious flaws that rapidly reduced the fun. Now, Army of Two: 40th day has arrived, promising improvements and a far better co-op experience. We will see…
Salem and Rios, our knuckleheaded heroes, are having a bad day. When you consider that a good day for these guys probably involves a few brewskis followed by a bar fight, you know that a bad day for them must be real bad. Anyway, the guys are stuck in Shanghai, where all hell is breaking loose, and it is up to you, the player, to get the boys out of there. Maybe you can also work out what on earth is going on?
After a short tutorial, that explains the basics, you will be thrown into the action,and there you will stay for the rest of the game. This is a non-stop rollercoaster of enemy gunfire and explosions all around. This is the first, and possibly most notable, improvement over the first game. The story is there, for those that want to follow it, but the primary objective throughout is to stay alive. You are in Shanghai and you need to leave. Its that simple. Well, ok, not that simple, but close enough. The first game had you taking on various missions in various different locales, this time its one place, one basic mission. Of course there are mysteries to solve and evil to vanquish.
Since when has the vanquishing of evil looked so good? Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but damn! this game looks great. The setting of Shanghai is a wonder to behold and, once everything starts kicking off, there are plenty of big graphical events to enjoy, such as exploding buildings and aircraft plummeting to the ground. And it all looks great. The grittiness and detail of Shanghai is a direct contrast to the over the top, end of world style events that go on around you. Not that you will have much time for sight seeing, as the games numerous enemies will soon be looking to overwhelm you. Although these adversaries are not as varied as they could be, they are all finished in detail, and move around the screen realistically.
We were promised better co-op play, and the game certainly delivers on that count. The aggro system allows for one player to take the heat and become the primary threat to the opposing forces, allowing the other player to either recover or get down with their sneaky selves and engage the enemy from behind. There are many other ways in which the two characters can interact with each other, other than the mandatory high fives and fist bumping. But, be warned! This game has been optimised to be played in co-op, and, as a result, playing in single player is sorely lacking. The AI used to control your partner is not the best in the world and may lead to moments of extreme frustration when he decides to ignore you and do what he chooses instead. Were the game scored solely for single player, I fear the score would be low.
Anyway, ignore the single player game. The controls are fairly simple to get the hang of, with one exception. The cover system uses the snap to cover method, whereby you walk into an object and automatically use it as cover. This method has been used on other games, but it does have inherent problems. In 40th day, there are moments when, whilst trying to maneuver around or over an obstacle, the character takes cover instead. This can lead to some very embarrassing “damn, I got shot in the butt” moments. But, the exception to the simple controls is not even the cover method, it is what happens when you are in cover. Rather than just moving the stick to adjust your view, it is demanded that the right stick be pressed in order to switch the shoulder that you are looking over. I can’t understand why they overcomplicated this relatively simple task with extra button interaction. Still, after a while, you get used to it.
A special mention should be made of the moral choices that present themselves throughout the game. These choices are fairly simple and, with a couple of exceptions, make very little difference to the game. Perhaps a missed opportunity by the developer to have a bit of fun, but, although they have very little bearing on the game, you have to live with the choices you make. How do you sleep at night?
The customisation of your character in 40th Day is one of the highpoints of the game. All of the money that you collect, during your game, can be used to customise your expansive collection of weapons. From something as simple as strapping a screwdriver to the front of your gun, through to a full custom paint job, the options are endless. These adjustments do not only make your gun look cool, they also have a direct effect on the game, increasing the weapons accuracy or damage, or just making you stand out more as a target.
Interestingly, players are able to go to the 40th day website and create their own mask, which can then be loaded into the game. For multiplayer online modes, this can certainly make you stand out and be noticed, which is great news. The game offers a couple of interesting online modes, out of the box. These modes take the co-op play to another level and team you up for some deathmatch style gameplay. The most interesting mode is yet to arrive, however. Extraction, which should be available to all a month after release, gives a nod in the direction Left 4 Dead. This survival mode looks to place a team of four against swarm after swarm of bad guys. I, for one, can’t wait.
So, in reality, it would seem that 40th day has delivered. The game looks and plays far better. Although there are still a few problems, and the single player mode is not great, the game on the whole is an exciting experience. If you have a buddy that you can team up with, then this game should be on your list. One of the best co-op games available.