Electronic Arts is kicking off the new year with, in my opinion, the best spring lineup for any publisher. With titles such as Mass Effect 2, Battlefield Bad Company 2, and Dante’s Inferno, EA is the company to lookout for. The first EA title in 2010 is the sequel to the co-op third person shooter Army of Two: The 40th Day. The two mercenary amigos, Salem and Rios, are back after nearly two years since the first installment. The first game wasn’t the best shooter nor the best co-op experience we’ve ever had, it was simply an average game that needed a few more improvements to make it a good game. Army of Two promises to deliver a better game with the sequel by making some much needed improvements and expanding on the multiplayer elements of the first game.
Salem and Rios are your typical duo of mercenaries. They’re cocky, wise-cracking douche bags who care about finishing their mission and getting paid. Some might not like these protagonist, but I did. The reason being is they’re like a couple of buddies or brothers who just crack jokes on each other. Their relationship seems real to me. Sadly, the story in the 40th Day does nothing to bring out much of this great duo’s chemistry nor does it make the campaign story the least bit interesting. The game begins with Salem and Rios in Shanghai for a mission to do something and then all of a sudden, Shanghai goes to hell with skyscrapers tumbling down and civilians being killed or held prisoner. As I write this now, I’m not too sure what the hell happened in the story, but the first four out of six chapters don’t have any sort of story telling. The story starts and ends in the last two chapters of the game, making The 40th Day less about story and more about big action sequences.
The main focus of Army of Two is the co-op. No matter what way you choose to play this game, you’ll always have your right hand man there for backup. Play with a buddy online, next to you, or play with the AI controlled partner (which isn’t as bad as one would expect.) Sure, playing with a friend would be better, but I played it with the AI and it would do what I wanted. Sometimes though it wouldn’t go where I would want it to. The 40th Day improves some of the co-op features by making them available at any time, but doesn’t add much besides a mock surrender, which allows your partner to flank the enemy. A new HUD GPS system is also available and it allows you to mark enemies and serves as a road map, but this option means nothing when it has a time limit. Another problem I found that doesn’t necessarily belong to the gameplay but holds you from the gameplay is the positioning of some of the checkpoints. Some of the checkpoints are saved before a cutscene, so if you die or a civilian is killed or anything, you’ll have to watch the cutscene every time since the game does not allow you to skip over them. I found this very frustrating at times seeing as how all I want to do is get back to the action.
When it comes to action sequences, The 40th Day delivers. The action in each chapter is very well paced and each chapter has a great action set piece like map taking place in a Zoo, which allows you to take cover over an elephant. Seriously. The shooting mechanics are easy to learn and the wide range of weaponry is there to buy and unlock. The weapon you use is much more satisfying knowing that you customized it to your liking. With numerous additions to each gun, your weapon will be unique. Making money in the game is simple. Either kill enemies, take it from their supply crates, rescue civilians. By becoming a Shanghai civilians savior, you will gain good morality or you can gain bad morality by killing them or not rescuing them. A morality set piece is also a part of each chapter asking you if you should kill this person or let them live, things of that nature.
The cover system in The 40th Day is a little over complicated than it should be. Pushing ‘A’ while running towards something will get you into cover, but if you’re right in front of what you want to take cover on you must duck and push up on the left stick. If you want to turn from side to side while taking cover the camera will pan over your left or right shoulder, then you must click in and out of that, which like I said over complicates things. I hate to compare games in my reviews, but The 40th Day would of been great if it would of just copied the cover system of a certain game that features locust.
As for graphics, the 40th Day was built using the Unreal Engine 3. Like the majority of games using that engine, the game looks good. The levels are polished, the characters are detailed, and the in-game visuals are overall pretty good. The only time the game doesn’t look that good is during the brief cutscenes of a skyscraper being destroyed and collapsing, but not many of those happen for too long. I have to give it to the level designers though. They did a great job in designing each chapter based on the location and the madness that surrounds that area. I was a little disappointed that the Unreal Engine physics weren’t used to their full capabilities. The game allows you to shoot enemies through a table via bullet penetration, yet the table doesn’t break or chip. All that is left is a black bullet hole.
I’m not too keen on sound, but a game that features no audio options is ridiculous. There is no way to lower the music volume and no way to turn up the voice acting volume. Even worse the game has no subtitles. Not everyone plays with subtitles, but in this game they’re needed since there are no audio settings are available. Maybe with subs I can have a better understanding of the story or actually be able to hear some of Salem and Rios’ jokes. With that being said, the sound itself is OK, but audio options would of been great.
Pick a friend and take the partnership online against other teams with The 40th Day. Compete in four modes which are, Co-Op Deathmatch, Warzone, Control, and the pre-order exclusive, Extraction. The multiplayer in 40th Day might be something you try just to see what it’s like, but you won’t stay for long. That might be due to some of the lag issues I found during my stay online, although I’m sure a patch might be on the way.
Army of Two: The 40th Day made some of the improvements it needed to, but it remains just an average game. However, that doesn’t mean its bad because believe me, I found myself having fun even though I was playing alone. Simply put, if you’re looking for an action game with lots of shooting that offers co-op and nothing more, then this is your game. If you have a good friend who you constantly play with, then Army of Two: The 40th Day would be a great, fun game for the both of you.