Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Army of Two: The 40th Day - The Definition of Mediocrity

Gaming has always been part of my childhood, part of my growing up and part of who I am today. Some of my greatest memories involve playing co-op games such as Double Dragon, Streets of Rage, Gunstar Heroes, Super Smash TV, Pop'n Twinbee and many other games that appeared on the Mega Drive and SNES.

This childhood enjoyment of playing offline co-op games has come with me into the present day, and I often find myself being inextricably drawn to any game that will offer some sort of offline co-op experience. This is why I ended up having the most mediocre gaming experience of my entire life as a result of EA Montreal's Army of Two: The 40th Day.

While I'd agree that the Army of Two series doesn't fit within the normal boundaries of my gaming fancies, but when my younger brother told me he knew of an offline co-op game that was "like Gears of War but worse. And you can pimp your guns out." I just couldn't refuse.

And so I played Army of Two, a fun yet uninspired piece of gun porn power fantasy. This was about three years ago. However since that time the selection of modern games with offline co-op has started to dry up. With Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel on the way and myself being back at home in the United Kingdom and close to my brothers, I thought it time to have a go at Army of Two: The 40th Day.

And what a load of completely ordinary old rot it was.

Don't get me wrong, there's no no faulting the game on a technical level. I can't think of any instance where I found myself caught up in a glitch, aside from a few crashes that required me to reset the Xbox 360. But the gameplay, storyline and environments are so unbelievably ordinary that it's genuinely difficult to accept that it wasn't done as some sort of cruel EA joke.

The two dude-bro save-the-world mercenaries are in Shanghai for some reason when missiles start hailing down onto the city for some reason and hoards of mercenaries try to kill you for some reason.

I wish I knew what the reasoning behind all of this was.

The game also tries to incorporates a morality system whereby saving the ten civilians that live in Shanghai, the largest city in the world's most over-populated country, and choices made during cut scenes will affect your overall "morality". But this is made completely irrelevant by the hundreds of faceless men you slaughter.

I wish I was using the word slaughter imaginatively, but I'm not. Most enemies can be killed with a few shots to the head, which will make their cranium completely disappear before their lifeless bodies flop to the floor never to be seen again. Oh, the bodies are still there, but everything in Army of Two: The 40th Day is the same two shades of grey and beige, so you'll never notice.

There are actually some things that are red, and not just the blood.This was an attempt by EA Montreal to add some sort of style to the game, but the story is so nonsensical, the gameplay so repetitive and dialogue so unnecessarily pointless that you'll never find the brainpower to actually care.

I must also mention the gameplay elements from the original Army of Two that EA Montreal chose not to use in Army of Two: The 40th Day. The co-op parachuting parts are gone, the extra side-missions are replaced with the inferior aforementioned hostage rescues, and the fun back-to-back shooting sections only occur three or four times and are made much more difficult.

Additionally, a lot of the guns that were available in Army of Two are missing from Army of Two: The 40th Day. Gone are the miniguns and other ridiculously over powered weapons, as are the grand selection of pistols and body armour. Perhaps some of these weapons are supposed to be purchased as DLC, or acquired through multiple playthroughs, but I can assure you that neither of those things will ever be happening.

In a way I'm glad I had to suffer this poorly made co-op game. It simply wasn't fun, and as a result my brother and I had a somewhat miserable time playing it, not to mention the fact that we had to rush the game due to it being a rental copy. It's certainly put our plan of playing Aliens: Colonial Marines together on the back burner.

Before playing Army of Two: The 40th Day, I was in fact thinking of playing Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel. But after reading reviews that claim it managed to end up more boring than Army of Two: The 40th Day, I'll probably stay away. Unless my curiosity as to how it could possibly be any more mediocre than its predecessor is probably the very reason I'll end up playing it.


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