Get ready for a lot of explosions, shootings, and dialogue that can stunt the growth of a weed with Army Of Two: The 40th Day. This game follows the mercenary exploits of Salem and Rios, two beefed-up “private contractors” at work in the Far East. Sent in to execute a fairly routine contract, the boys get the shock of their lives as the entire city of Shanghai is suddenly decimated before them (and us — which looks kinda cool). Buildings are brought down via multiple explosions. Planes fall from the skies above (and into the buildings, too). People die en masse. Yes, Chicken Little, the sky really is falling!
Of course, in a video game, things need to move quickly. Fortunately for us, paper propaganda falls from the skies bearing the likeness of the man who has done this (some militaristic maniac) — otherwise, Salem and Rios might not know who to go after. And so, immediately following our first mission, players must trek their way through what’s left of Shanghai to confront the bad guy (who we do not see until the very end — which leaves his credibility as “the bad guy” somewhat depleted).
While I enjoy a shoot-em-up as much as the next guy does, I must confess that I didn‘t find Army Of Two: The 40th Day to be a very good game. Interactivity is limited (there’s practically no room for players to wander about to look for goodies), boss characters are relatively easy to beat once you get the hang of it, and the gameplay is often infuriating. There were several times where the camera view would run into a wall despite my best efforts to make it do just the opposite — which was particularly irritating when there were goons literally standing behind me.
Having never checked out the original Army Of Two, I can’t say the new features that EA Montreal included in Army Of Two: The 40th Day were that big of an improvement. One of the new options is weapons customization. Players can switch out silencers, scopes, clips, etc. in order to create the most bad-ass version of their firearm as possible. This is nice — very nice. And, with there being no gun stores open in the area, users can go to the menu to equip their arsenal and buy new weapons there. Saving civilians (who have been taken hostage by the bad guys) may also result in a new weapon (or part).
Also new is a GPS option in the characters’ helmets, which allows them to sneak up on (and sometimes capture) villains, as well as guide you through the rubble. Ammo (as well as money) is placed throughout the game. From what I’ve read, the Artificial Intelligence option in the game has been improved — although I didn’t see the baddies doing much more than standing in the same place and allowing themselves to be mowed down by me.
An occasional option that can be deemed as either awesome or irksome is the ability for players to choose the fate of certain characters. In the opening mission (I guess this could be deemed as a spoiler, so there), we are instructed to kill our contact — to which the game tells us to press ‘X’ to do him in, or press ‘O’ to spare him. Just like in real life, our decision has its consequences, which are relayed to us via some cutaway (still) animation. If you kill him, his body falls into a dumpster and he’s later reported as missing. If you spare him, he goes on to enjoy life — only to be snuffed out by a hitman years later. Several other moral moments like that pop up through the game. The consequences range from “whoops” to “uh-oh” — and there is often a “prize” (such as access to a cache of weapons) hanging on your decision.
It’s also a damn short game — I beat it in a few days, only taking an hour or two each evening to devote to it.
In terms of graphics, Army Of Two: The 40th Day has a number of “oohs” and “ahs” going for it. The intro animation — as well as the cataclysmic moments of the game — are pretty darn good, and there are a number of visuals to delight the eyes. The game supports 780p playback. Sound-wise, I found that the dialogue was frequently getting lost in the onscreen action. Sure, it was annoying to say the least, but seeing as how Army Of Two: The 40th Day has some of the dumbest dialogue I’ve heard in a game in a long time, I didn’t figure I was missing much. Other than the drowned dialogue, Army Of Two: The 40th Day’s sound set-up is fine, with various sound effects coming through admirably.
In short, Army Of Two: The 40th Day isn’t going to top any of the shooter favorites out there. There are a number of negatives to be had here, but they should be easy to ignore if you can get into the game itself (it took me three attempts to do so).
Army Of Two: The 40th Day is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood, Language, Violence. This game can also be found on: Xbox 360 and PSP.