Army of Two: The 40th Day Review

I’ve played a lot of shooters in my time, so many that every once in a while, I’d like some variety. I can only stand shooting generic bad guys while spewing generic macho quips for so long before I get tired of it. Gears of War, Halo, even Modern Warfare all follow the same basic formula, just putting their own spin on it.

Army of Two: The 40th Day, however, barely adds any spin at all. At its deepest core, it is the formula.

To call this game “generic” is unfortunately a great assessment. The two main characters from the first game, Salem (who, by the way is voiced by Nolan North. THE DUDE IS EVERYWHERE) and Rios, have returned and they have to shoot their way through a war-torn Shanghai in order to get out of there alive. The game has some redeeming qualities, but not enough to make it earn anything more than the title of “generic shooter.”

To its credit, the game is technically great. The graphics are fantastic, from the different areas of war-torn Shanghai to the mouth movement during speech. Hearing the two soldiers talk to one another about what lies ahead is well-written script and well-delivered speech. The sounds of war are all well done too, from enemies shouting orders to the pop of the guns. The music is a bit bland, though, offering the same basic sound you’d hear from a Hollywood war movie or another shooter game. Heavy drums are accompanied by the same sixteen bars of violin and brass in every firefight, which is annoying. I love me some videogame music, but hearing the same basic melody 24 times in one fight gets a bit distracting. I remember going down at least twice because I reached to mute the TV.

Army of Two The 40th Day

Every once in a while, the game will throw a moral choice at you. For example, one of them is either to take weapons from a mall security vault or to leave them be. It seems basic, but what makes the morality system different (and better) is that only one of the team members gets to make the decision, regardless of whether you’re playing single-player or co-op. Being helpless, subject to the will of your partner, is rather scary, as you’re never quite sure what he’s going to pick and whether you’re going to agree with it. What I hate about the morality system here is that one of these morality choices takes the place of the final boss fight. Yes, you read correctly, the final battle in the game is choosing between two different courses of action, both choices offering an equally stupid ending. No big showdown with Jonah the mastermind, no major explosions to see the game out, just a choice between A or B, the ramifications of said choice, and the credits. I fought the whole eight hours of campaign (a problem in and of itself) for THAT?! Please!!

Despite the stupid endings, there are two things that Army of Two: The 40th Day does differently from other games, and it does do them well. The Aggro system from the first game returns, adding a whole extra layer of strategy to the co-op side of things. For those who don’t know, the Aggro system is simply this: whichever member of the team shoots more will gain Aggro, drawing the attention of enemies and allowing the other member to sneak into a flanking position. When the Aggro meter is full on one side, the member with the Aggro glows orange and the other glows blue, letting each player know who the foes are aiming for. I found this to be very helpful in the co-op game, as I was able to draw most of the attention to myself, allowing my brother to flank and take out those damn mounted guns. A similar type of system is seen is most MMORPGs, including World of Warcraft, but is rarely found in shooters.

Army of Two The 40th Day

The other standout feature in The 40th Day is the customization system. Masks can be given different designs, including ones that you make yourself and download through EA’s website. While that’s all well and good, it’s the gun customization that offers the most meat. As players unlock guns, they can customize to their heart’s content. Everything from silencers to scopes to grips to finish can be altered. You can even take full parts of other guns to make your own little concoction. I spent a good hour fumbling through the different pieces and buying what I thought would be most effective. It’s not quite as in-depth as, say, Modern Warfare 2‘s class-creation system, but it’s still a fun feature that allows players to get their creative juices flowing.

Even with all of the good things it does, at the end of the game I still felt like I was playing the same thing over again. Unfortunately, with such a major saturation of shooters available, only those that add a lot to the basic formula (or have the name Call of Duty in front of it) will garner the best recognition. While it is good for a quick playthrough of shooting bad guys, Army of Two: The 40th Day is certainly not a revolution in the shooter genre. If you don’t mind redundancy, give it a shot. Otherwise, stick to Domination and Team Deathmatch in Modern Warfare 2, because you won’t be missing too much over here.


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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