When a new IP is announced the temptation to thumb your nose at it, or even dismiss it in favour of the flavour of the month game is extremely tempting. Iíve seen numerous shooters come and go over the years, Gears of War and Rainbow Six Vegas on consoles, Crysis and Half Life 2 on PC. Iím always fond of trying out the next supposedly big thing, especially if the hype around it is as major as Halo 3 was. I always get disappointed as well when I finally play the game, like Turok, the demo was pretty decent but in the end it turned into a pretty average shooter.
I approached Army of Two with the same level of jaded gamer experience that I tend to everything else. What I found however was that Army of Two isnít a bad game at all, itís not mind-blowing by a long shot and it can be completed by a twitch-reflex hardcore gamer on the medium (Contractor) difficultly level in around six hours of solid play. It doesnít offer much in the way of replay-ability since when youíre done with the SP campaign you unlock the primary weapons for free. Play it on the hardest unlocked difficulty (Professional) and youíll unlock the others.
Youíre cast in the role of a PMC (Private Military Company) operative, either the hulking Tyson Rios or the slightly smaller but by no means wimpy, Elliot Salem. This will be your persona for the balls to the wall action spread over six campaigns, which spans around 16 years of story. Youíll battle aggressive enemies and very quickly find that you canít just run and gun, on your own. Army of Two is built around co-op play in both the SP and the MP portions of the game.
Letís look at the SP side of the game first; you have some pretty decent partner AI for a change. Itís not fantastic and it will sometimes make a couple of stupid decisions but for the most part it does what it says on the tin. I was shot down and slumped over in the second mission, a turret had me pinned and I was in deep trouble, enemies closing in from all around me. Tyson went into action, as I kept a couple of them at bay with my own gun. The big lug threw a grenade at the turret gunner and then cut his way to me killing the remaining tangos; he then dragged me behind a box and restored me to health.
I had to give him a high-5 for that.
On another play he earned a heabutt for dragging me off and then running around in circles, OH no, theyíre shooting at me! Yeah, Tyse, heal me up and I can help. Nope, he kept on running around in circles and then shot the bad guy. Too late, grenade, dead, reload checkpoint. You see Army of Two functions like this; you have a field Aggro meter: a little swing see-saw indicator that tells you how much trouble youíre causing for the enemy. If youíre at the top of this, youíre drawing all the gunfire; your partner can sneak around and get some shots on the enemy.
Your partner can be toggled using the d-pad into a variety of stances, with a second press you can change from defensive (blue) to aggressive (red) and he can be told to advance, back you up, hold position. Depending on what you want. Say youíre generating all the aggro, Tyson is effectively invisible so he can be told to advance (blue) and heís going to sneak around killing people for you. What happens if you suddenly take too much incoming fire? Simple, put Tyson into the aggressive hold position stance and let him draw aggro.