Hey is that a grenade in your pocket?
Army of Two broke some new ground when it was released, giving players a solid co-op experience with a friend or a flawed AI buddy. It was a short game, clocking in at around 6 hours even on Contractor difficulty. It had a smattering of multiplayer game modes and they all put a spin on cooperative play. Now, finally we have Army of Two: The 40th Day and we were able to put it through its paces recently.Story
Rios and Salem are back, theyíre private contractors now running their own company and they have a new mission. Tasked with an important job in Shanghai they have to contend with all hell breaking loose around them, save their own asses and still get paid. It is pretty much a Hollywood Disaster Movie story and itís told through solid cut-scene work and some high quality voice acting.Gameplay
TFD is a 3rd person cooperative cover based shooter, with a streamlined cover mechanic and a fairly solid layer of tactics. You can either play it solo with a credible AI buddy covering your back or you can play with a friend, locally, split-screen or over Xbox Live. If you choose to play with an AI buddy you can order them via a simple orders system based on the d-pad. You can have them advance either aggressively or defensively with the following orders.
Hold: Theyíll seek available cover and generate aggro on aggressive or only fire when they need to on defensive. Theyíll snipe cooperatively if you leave them on defensive as well.
Regroup: They will follow you and leave most enemies alone on defensive, but on aggressive theyíll cause some serious aggro.
Advance: On defensive they move from cover to cover, keeping out of trouble but on aggressive they go in guns blazing and take a hell of a lot of damage as well as dishing it out.
Partner Cam: See what your partner sees in a small HUD.
Thanks to solid level design TFD never really feels forced, even though itís a linear experience it often finds ways to break that up by allowing you to choose alternate routes, flank your enemies and work together as a team. There are a few key moments in the game where you enter a back to back, infinite ammo state and mow down hordes of enemies in a hail of bullets.
There are also times where you can capture an enemy soldier and force the whole squad to surrender without firing a shot. Usually when in a hostage situation, youíll be able to work cooperatively with your buddy and save lives (if you want) gaining lots of cash and unique weapons/weapon parts for the gun customisation system. You can tie down the captured enemies and gain positive morality, or you can just kill everyone and gain negative morality. Itís up to you.
There are also cooperative choices throughout TFD. A button prompt will appear with a choice upon it and its first come first serve. Do you spare a guy for no reward and a big morality boost, or do you go the greedy route and kill him to get access to the guns and gear he might be hiding. Itís not always black and white Ė youíll get to see the repercussions in a nifty comic-book style movie right there and then.
Step jumps are back and so are the positive and negative reinforcement actions, you can give your partner a hearty fist-bump or headbutt them if they do something wrong. This all affects the characterís relationship, shown on the pause screen and ties into game trophies or achievements on the 360. All in all the new actions, coop choices and hostage situations build on the solid groundwork for Army of Two. In TFD the controls feel better; the aiming feels a lot better and there seems to be a point to sneaking around, since enemies donít automatically spot you when youíre sneaking.
Aggro is dealt with simply, your partner or you shoot a lot and draw the enemyís attention. Then the other person sneaks around using a low aggro weapon or their melee attack (much improved from the first game) to take down bad guys. Cover is the key here and against the much tougher boss-style bad guys youíll need to use a lot of strategy to get into a position where you can flank and hit their weak spot. Fortunately you can blind fire and move around cover quickly, leaping over it effortlessly.
The gameplay improvements for TFD donít just rest in the controls of course, no, EA have overhauled the weapon customisation system to allow you to equip a large array of gun parts across a nice selection of weapons. Once you buy a gun or unlock it, you can then usually put key parts of that gun onto another gun. Barrels, stocks, magazines, scopes and more can be fiddled with, interchanged and so on. Basically, you can pretty much build the custom gun of your dreams by monitoring the stats, sure having high damage is great but perhaps you might want more aggro or even better, a higher precision.