I was one of the few reviewers out there who really didn’t have a big problem with the first Army of Two. Many people joked about its so-called homoerotic buddy system, but in reality those people were just hopping on a bandwagon that shouldn’t have been launched in the first place. The only warranted jokes were those about the game’s bad attempt at humor, as the first Army of Two bombed more opportunities for humor than Desert Storm blew holes in the sand. The gameplay had a few issues, most notably opponent AI with the short-term memory of a gnat, but Army of Two was still entertaining enough to drag me through the entire campaign and at least take note when the sequel was announced.
The problem is, now that the sequel’s out, and has in fact been out for a couple of months, all those negative comments made about the first game are not only justified this time around, but insufficient to quantify the number of problems Army of Two: The 40th Day actually has.
Rather than go on some diatribe about shortcomings, I’ll just list them quickly and move on to the most unfortunate parts. So, in no particular order, here’s the laundry list: rock-stupid AI, both friendly and enemy; a dumbed-down version of what was already a puzzling Aggro system, rendering the entire “stay hidden” mechanic moot; weapon customization that is truly pointless and purely cosmetic, no matter what the sliding scales may indicate; a laughably shallow morality system that only barely impacts the storyline; and a story that falls flat even though EA valiantly tried to include some modern-day relevance and intrigue.
Those are some pretty big issues, particularly for a sequel, and it’s safe to say that while they don’t make the game unplayable, they definitely make it less than enjoyable and at times inspire bouts of mind wandering — in the middle of what’s supposed to be an intense firefight. Yet in spite of these major failures, the one thing that drew me out of the game like no other didn’t have to do with gameplay, graphics, story or audio, but with the developers’ desire to impart a sense of cinematography and style. Without fail, every dramatic moment — of which the developers obviously wanted one every three minutes — is subjected to some sort of a camera pan or in-engine cinematic. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want when I’m trying to “get into” a game is to be dragged kicking and screaming from it every three minutes for the sake of seeing what the developer wanted me to see. This is a game, after all; let the player actually play it. Is it really all that important to see a well-armored boss walk around the corner when he ends up right in front of the player anyway? Arguably not. Yet here’s the developer, showcasing some uber-dramatic camera angle just for the sake of art. Lesson number one: never let the medium get in the way of the art. Writers who write to hear themselves write, not for the sake of good communication, fail. So, too, with gaming: developers who develop for the sake of showing off their talents, not for the sake of using their talent to help gamers enjoy the interaction, fail at their job. And for most of its duration, Army of Two: The 40th Day fails.
Army of Two: The 40th Day does include some multiplayer modes, and those are somewhat more enjoyable when you’re actually playing them. The Horde-like mode, in particular, is worth noting, but only if you can find a few people to play it with. And therein lies the real rub with Army of Two: The 40th Day: it’s up against some incredible competition. When games like Modern Warfare 2 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 are releasing before and after your game, respectively, you’d better make darn sure your online and offline modes are polished to a tee and destined for greatness. Neither is the case with Army of Two: The 40th Day, rendering it little more than a game that also released in 2010 and was quickly forgotten in favor of other, much better shooters.
That was my opinion when this game first came out, but I withheld judgment because I thought maybe I just needed some distance and time. Well I’ve taken that time, played the game some more and still come away with that impression. Army of Two: The 40th Day needed to be more, needed to be better and needed to work a little harder to quiet the critics from its predecessor’s time. Instead, the Aggro system got even wonkier, the gameplay got watered-down and the end product turned one of its pre-release supporters into a disappointed critic. That’s not what I’d call a success.
If for some reason you’re still curious about the game, you can click the following link to buy Army of Two: The 40th Day for PS3 from Amazon.com, or click this one to buy it for Xbox 360: Army of Two: The 40th Day for Xbox 360.
- Score: 6.8
Platform reviewed: PlayStation 3
— Jonas Allen