PAX ’09 – Army of Two: The 40th Day
Army of Two was a game I hated myself for liking. The original was a great co-op game, full of fun multiplayer mechanics and amusing customization that made it a perfect couch-co-op game. However, I could never get over the obnoxious main characters – the way they seemed to relish fist-bumping over freshly killed people just rubbed me the wrong way. That being said, The 40th Day seems to have brought the storytelling down a peg, as the new Army of Two is much darker.
Shawn and I played through a level in an early version of the new campaign. Together, we got the drop on enemy mercenaries who had crash landed in a zoo…
OK, look, you’re just going to have to take my word on the whole “not as bro” thing with The 40th Day. Yes, it seems we were blasting our way through a zoo, complete with dead hippos that could be used as cover. Is the game still funny? Yes. Is it as mind-numbingly immature? No, at least not from what I could detect. What mattered more were the new co-op features. Several times, we were able to fire on our foes before they even knew we were there, and we efficiently picked them off, thanks to the new partner camera window that shows what the other player is looking at to the right of the HUD. Using customized silenced rifles, our enemies never knew what hit them.
However, there were a few frustrating parts. For one, the game was quite ugly – granted, it’s in pre-alpha stages, but apart from the pretty lighting, The 40th Day appeared muddy. There were also a few issues with clipping – both of us met our doom thanks to a giant rock that… didn’t exist, apparently. Hiding behind the rock did nothing to stop our foe’s physics-defying bullets – either that, or the Guardian Boulder Spirit simply decided to betray us. It was a silly end to our test, but it was funny.
Still, my feelings on this sequel are mixed. The co-op was entertaining, thanks to the snazzy new features. They didn’t do enough to distract me from the rest of the game, unfortunately – standard shooter fare with a dash of ugly. The art design is solid, and I honestly hope everything can be fixed before release – after all, there’s no better way to spend a Friday night than inviting a friend over for a bout of splitscreen play.
I on the other hand had never played the original Army of Two but having heard tales of its chest bumping machismo I can’t say it was ever high on my priority list. With that said, I’m always open to a fun co-operative shooter, especially one with splitscreen.
It was certainly a bit difficult to actually co-operate with Bart on the convention floor, but we tried out best utilizing The 40th Day‘s countdown feature to synchronize out attacks. He seems to think we actually hit our targets on these occasions, and maybe he did but I can only confirm my sniper fire was errant at best.
As Bart continued to hide, I decided to take to the ground and get intimate with my aggressors using my grenades and a shotgun I had peeled off someone’s carcass. I wasn’t as happy when my bravado lead to us both dying, but hey, the nice man from EA was more than happy to re-spawn us with his magic codes.
With a new lease on life I started actually playing the game in the manner it was probably intended, under cover. As I worked my way around to the enemy’s flank, Bart pushed at them from the front, apparently we were co-operating.
Probably the most noteworthy feature of the demo to me was the partner camera. It was certainly one of the slicker features found in The 40th Day and with the amount of enemies generally quite high, it was often difficult to keep an eye on Bart visually. Fortunately it’d chime in to let me know how he was doing when I began to miss him.
In general terms though, nothing really stuck out to me about theThe 40th Day, dead hippos withstanding. It seemed like a very capable third-person shooter but at no point during our demo did I feel the bromance Army of Two is known for. Maybe that’s a good thing, but I hope it was just hiding out with Bart and it’ll make its triumphant return when The 40th Day hits this January.