Review: Army of Two

Review: Army of Two
Review: Army of Two

When the world is in crisis, the military might not be who you want to turn to. Private security firms decked out with the coolest weapons and most elite of personnel could be sent into de-militarised zones to do the job of the armed forces.

This is where you'll find yourself in Army of Two, a new game from Electronic Arts' Montreal division, the same team who brought you SSX On Tour for the PlayStation Portable a few years ago.

As a squad game, Army of Two likes to congratulate itself on the idea that you will be playing with some advanced artificial intelligence that you'll be friends with for the entire game. This isn't a new concept and I'll just cite Gears of War in this instance because short of the "aliens attacking the world" plot, you can see that this is what Army of Two is trying to be.

Where Army of Two attempts to be different is the aggro-meter. You see, because there are two of you, you can decide who fires guns as a diversionary tactic and who goes in for the kill. Eventually, one of you will be so fired up from killing all those people that you will go into an aggro mode where one played kills everything and a blast of furious yelling and gunfire while the other player is practically invisible and can go around the map picking players off until the agro has worn off.

That wouldn't be a bad feature if the game wasn't so boring and pointless leading up to those bits.

You'll start by picking a character of either Salem or Rios, each a former Special Forces soldier who decides to pursue a career in private security and military forces. The game starts by pushing you into a 9/11 setting where you'll invade Afghanistan as a two man team hunting down someone, finding a comrade, and blowing up a bunch of missiles and men as you go along. From there it moves into other "based on real events" gameplay but unlike games that do feel realistic, Army of Two never feels like a wholly real game.

Somewhere between bosses with enemy meters and you being able to take a ridiculous amount of hits before your buddy drags you off to the side for a quick resuscitation seems to dent the seriousness with which Army of Two likes to present itself with.

For instance, while you're paid off quite handsomely for killing a lot of people, Army of Two lets you indulge a little by giving you the options of blinging up your weapons. While this is obviously because we all need a gold-plated AK-47, you more or less see that Army of Two wasn't created with any real planning in mind. Half of it wants you to take it seriously while the other half wants to remind you that if you get blood on your blinged Beretta, it will get mighty annoyed.

You also can't jump. You might find it hard to believe but if Army of Two is to be taken with any sense of credibility -- and it seems to try to with events somewhat inspired from real-life -- then you might also have to believe that men in the private security firms can't jump.

You also move like a brick. That is to say that there will be times when you might need to pull off a door from a car and use it as a shield but your character responds in slow motion while all the bullets pass through his body in real-time. It's like saying "Hold on! I'll get this shield before I--" and then dying before you finish the sentence.

And nothing says sentimentality like the useless point of being able to slap high fives with your team-mate after blowing away a bunch of people. True class, that is.

The graphics are up there as excellent as is the soundtrack which is composed by Trevor Morris, the guy who did the music for games like Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars and has worked as a composer on films like Stealth, The Island, and The Hills Have Eyes II.

But as for the game, it's almost as if someone looked at Gears of War and decided that it would have been so much better if you just played the same killing levels over and over again without any sense of change and blended it with no sense of dynamics.

While the occasional back-to-back gunfight and parachute ride is somewhat fun, it doesn't take long before Army of Two falls back into a pointless slew of "same old, same old."

If you do manage to pick up Army of Two, find a friend to play it with. The option of cooperative play between both characters works really well when there's someone else to play with, but that's probably because you can both high five each other in real life while you're laughing over how stupid and fun this game can be.

Should you buy it?: Only if you're going to play it with a friend. It's not very fun by yourself.

Developer: EA Montreal
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Classification: MA15+
Formats: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
URL: Army of Two

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark

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