STAFF REVIEW of Army of Two (Xbox 360)


Saturday, March 15, 2008.
by Rick Wallace

Army of Two Box art In this modern day of gaming online cooperative play seems to be increasingly important among gamers. Army of Two delivers on the premise, and does a pretty good job as well. While you wont find anything too innovative about the co-op play, you come to learn that teamwork in this game is definitely a priority.

Army of Two is a first person shooter that sets you as a soldier or mercenary for hire. Youll be dispatched, along with your partner, to locations to take out high profile terrorists and leaders that the regular military is not willing to undertake or be associated. As a private military you get paid for everything you accomplish while in the field. All objectives are worth a certain amount of cash, and your livelihood and well being depend on you getting paid. Its your job! This cash that you earn is used to purchase and upgrade new weapons, attachments, body armor and facemasks. There is a little bit of customization for each weapon that allows you to customize the weapon to your style. Well discuss this more a little later in the review.

This game will seem very familiar to folks that have played Gears of War or Splinter Cell titles of the past. Army of Two has a cover system, and a fire from cover system as GoW had. Comparisons to Splinter Cell come in the co-operative actions you partake and assisting your partner to areas not obtainable by your self. Remember using your partner to lift you up to a higher level, and then pulling your partner up after you. Well thats in this game. Sure, I guess you can say How else are you supposed to get to higher places? Well I understand that, but this really does seem like a direct rip off of the Splinter Cell series. The gun fighting and shooting blindly from cover come both from Ghost Recon and Gears of War, and again feel like direct rip offs of the aforementioned games.

Graphics and sounds in this game are what can be expected of the next generation console. While again, its nothing that is going to pop your eyes out of your head, its acceptable. There is some destructibility of the levels through gunfire, explosions. The frame rates are smooth and do offer a great gaming experience that is easy on the eyes. Thats a definite plus in most books. Some of the gunfire sounds are pretty generic, and the voice acting is not terrible. Some of the dialogue can get a little annoying though. Overall, sounds in the game are ok though.


The storyline, while nothing over the top, is your basic hunt down the bad guys and save the world story. Youll play as one of two ex-Army Rangers that have decided to work for the private military as mercenaries and get paid as you progress. There are a few twists and turns in the story as you progress, but again the story isnt whats going to grab your heart and soul for this game. There are not a lot of cinematic interludes to break up the action, and the missions seem to flow fairly well from one to the other.

One thing that Army of Two boasts as innovative and new to co-op play is a feature called Aggro. When you have aggro, this basically means that all the attention is on you from the enemies. This will allow you partner to sneak around enemies unnoticed, and ambush them from behind. Some enemies require you to do this as its the only way to kill them, so be sure to learn how to use the aggro. You can transfer this agro to your partner at anytime using the dpad if you are taking to much fire and are close to dying. This will in turn direct the enemys attention away from you in order for you to recover health. Some agro is obtained by the weapons you carry and how they are equipped. A more powerful weapon such as a heavy machine gun will draw attention from enemies quicker than a standard sub machine gun. So youll have to work with your partner and equip yourselves properly to accomplish your goals previous to each mission. One thing I did find interesting was when your partner goes down, you have to stop what you are doing and go heal him. If he dies, then the level is over and you'll have to restart. You can drag him into cover if needed, or heal him right on the spot he was injured, your choice. The game uses a health regeneration system which you use automatically when in cover. But take too much damage and you'll sit on your rump and have to wait for your partner to heal you or die.

A second and truly the final innovative feature that Army of Two can boast is the use of your environment as a shield. Youll be able to wield certain things such as metal doors or car doors as a shield. One guy will hold the shield and move forward while the partner follows closely in formation behind the shield bearer providing fire on the enemy. You can use a melee attack on enemies as well when in this shield formation which is pretty cool. Honestly this really is about the only innovative feature I can recognize in this game.


While I wouldnt consider the parachuting levels innovative in any way, they are quite well done graphically and mechanically. At times you will have to parachute into hostile territories. One team member will be in control of the weapon and the other will be in control of guiding the parachute down to your landing point. Youll want to make sure to carry a sniper rifle as it makes the most sense to snipe your enemies before you get to close for them to shoot you. One thing though.I didnt see any kind of effect on the parachute trajectory when using a sniper rifle. Wouldnt you think the recoil and kick of a sniper rifle would at least cause you to sway a little in the air? Ive never fired a sniper rifle while parachuting, so maybe I am wrong in thinking that.

As stated above, as you earn money from completing your goals youll be able to buy new weapons and customize those that you have. Youll even have the opportunity to pimp them out if you like. This usually consists of diamonds, gold and shiny parts covering your weapon. Gold weapons, huh? Hmmm, very Call of Duty 4 reminiscent dont you think? And the pimping out really is not that much of a wow factor. The pimping out option is cut and dry and only allow you to specifically add set modifications. There is no personal customization other than the way you mix and match the options available to you. About the only thing this does for you, is jack up your agro on the weapons stats. There are points throughout the game that give you access to the weapons supply store. Usually this takes place prior to each mission. Youll be able to switch out weapons, buy new ones, and upgrade dependant on the cash youve obtained from the previous mission or missions. Youll be able to switch out your stock, barrel, ammo, attachments and pimp the weapon. Youll have the following categories to choose from when in the store: Primary Weapon, Secondary Weapon, Special Weapons and Armor. Youll have the opportunity to buy different masks to give your character a different look, but again these masks are preset in design and do not allow for any kind of customization. So as a whole the customization aspect of this game is very linear and will not add much variety to setting you character apart from others you may encounter online.

As we discussed earlier, cooperative play is the key aspect of this game and is the main focus of the gameplay. You can play through the single player campaign with the AI, but the game really thrives and lives on playing with human partner. Youll have actions that you can perform with your partner such as helping each other get to higher points on a map, switching weapons (a useless option), and co-op sniping. The only actions that you will really find useful are helping each other get to higher points on the map. The others are kind of pointless. Oh by the way, if you want you can interact with your partner in celebration by way of a high five, playing an air guitar jam session at any time you want.Whoop-die do.


Youll have 4 options to choose from when starting a campaign: Single Player, Split Screen, Private Co-op and Public Co-op. Single Player will put you side by side with the AI of course, and I will say that the AI is fairly smart in this game, but youll do most of the killing it seems as there will be times when he just stands around admiring the scenery. Split Screen allows you to play through the campaign locally with a human opponent. Of course, a private co-op game allows you to play with your buddies online. The only thing is, when creating a match you can only load up a co-op game from the last checkpoint you obtained. You cannot load up a certain level. Its either the last checkpoint or the beginning of the campaign. Public co-op play basically allows any players to join you that are looking to complete the campaign with another real live person instead of the AI.

Online versus play consists of 2 vs. 2. No 4 vs. 4 or 2 vs. 2 vs. 2 vs. 2.Only 4 people to a game lobby and thats it. This is somewhat disappointing as the game could have been all the more interesting having multiple pairings roaming a map at a time. It would completely change strategies going forward and planning your assaults. There are only 3 game modes available to play: Warzone, Bounties, and Extraction. Rounds length can be set to 10, 15 and 20 minute increments. And these game modes can be played on a whopping 4 maps.

In Extraction your primary goal is to rescue and carry POWs or VIPs to a safe location. These objectives are randomly spawned throughout the map. When playing Bounties, youll have to find and eliminate certain targets such as gang leaders. Warzone is a combination of both Extraction and Bounties. Youll have additional objectives to accomplish throughout the match as well which will increase your cash intake. The primary goal of all these game types is to make money. More money. And even more money. Youll face off against your human opponents as well as AI opponents in these matches which can deter and change your strategies a little for each objective.

All in all, the multiplayer of this game is where the fun factor lies for most. The campaign is short and nothing too spectacular. Many of the bosses are basically the same and most of the AI enemies are pretty lousy shots. A lot of folks will stand by this game due to its cooperative play, but unless EA plans on completely supporting the title with loads of maps, weapons and game modes in the future this game will be more of a flash in the pan. Multiplayer is fun for a while, and will satisfy most. So if you are looking for a good co-op game then this one may be for you. If you are looking for originality, you'll find some here, but most of the game is a combination of several great aspects of other big name games.


Suggestions:
Please support the game with more online game modes, weapons and maps. Also allow for more character customization to give players more unqiue opportunities to stand out from others online. Campaign was was way to short, and maybe some missions could be added later.


Overall: 7.7 / 10
Gameplay: 7.8 / 10
Visuals: 8.2 / 10
Sound: 7.5 / 10

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