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Army of Two

Tyce and Salem I know a lot of people would beg to differ, but as far as my opinion is concerned, Army of Two is a pretty fun game. It’s lacking in a few places, especially the multiplayer, but I played through the campaign a couple times, with and without a friend in co-op, and I enjoyed majority of it. By no means would I ever compare it to Gears of War in overall excellence, but it did have some features that I found pretty sweet (bro).

The basic story is that you play a pair of private military contractors that go on a series of jobs that turn into something much bigger. You earn money by completing objectives (either primary or optional), and with this money you can buy, upgrade, and pimp out your weapons. I think this is one of the biggest features that games need these days: customization. You get to carry three types of weapons into each level: a primary, secondary, and special. Primary guns consist of assault rifles, shotguns, light machine guns, and huge machine guns. Secondary weapons include pistols and sub-machine guns. Special weapons pretty much means sniper rifles, but it also has the RPG launcher and the Stinger launcher, so they couldn’t just say “Sniper Rifles”. Majority of the guns had detailed upgrades, such as:

  • barrel for more damage
  • capacity for ammo per clip
  • stock for accuracy
  • Suppressor for quieter shots (useless in this game, seriously)
  • Either a grip for accuracy, or something ridiculous like a shotgun or grenade launching attachment.
  • Shield to attach to the front so you take less damage while firing
  • Most importantly, the appearance.

The appearance is easily one of the funniest and fun parts of the game. You have the choice of standard, which all guns start out with, and pimped, which coats the gun in either gold or platinum, with intricate designs drawn on them or diamonds studding parts of the weapon. The first gun I decked out, the AUG, was given a platinum-plated coat and had some complex swirly designs on the sides. I also decked out my Desert Eagle, which ended up gold-plated, with a barrel three times the size of the original gun. Completely ridiculous, but was so much fun to play with that I ended up doing the $1,000,000 achievement just to get as much money as I could to pimp out a lot of guns. I bought all of upgrades for the primary and secondary guns that I deemed worthy, and pimped them out. One of the gun’s shield’s was diamond studded on the front, y’know, where the bullets hit.

The gameplay was interesting. Accuracy really did have an affect to the game, because trying to run and shoot was the hardest thing to do in this game. Sometimes the enemy AI will run right up to you and trying to escape while firing was a pain. The blind firing behind cover, on the other hand, is overpowered, because they give you crosshairs to aim with, even though your character cannot actually see at over the cover. The melee attacks took a while to figure out, since the actual instruction manual that came with the game was 9 pages, so they literally throw you into the game without knowing how to do a lot of things. I saw the random melee tip later on the loading screen, way after I figured it out on my own. You use the same button to melee as you do to shoot, you just have to be right up next to the person. At first, all enemies got the melee off on me before I got them, but you eventually learn the distance you can use and then keep mashing the trigger until it melees. Pretty ugly on EA’s part I must admit, but most of the melee attacks were pretty vicious, so they made up for it.

There is a new Aggro system which is great for more co-op possibilities. Basically, there is a meter on the screen, and the player “making the most noise” so-to-speak gains aggro. For instance, blindfiring like mad or killing an enemy will send the meter flying your way. If your partner is doing the same, though, the meter stays about even. To take full advantage of the aggro system, you want one player to gain all the aggro, while the other sneaks around back and takes them out silenty, usually with melee attacks. If a user gains maximum aggro, the Overkill capability can be activated. Overkill slows down time, and gives the user with max aggro a 2x damage buff for a set time, and the other player the ability to run faster and not be seen at all by any enemies.

Another fun co-op challenge in the game is when one player goes down. Each player basically has two life bars. When the main one gets low, he has the ability to feign death, which pulls aggro off of him, but puts it all on his partner. Enemies can only be tricked by feign death once, so you have to make sure you really need it. You can get back up from feign death. When the main health bar one runs out, the playerfalls to a sitting position and can’t move, but can still shoot. As his second life bar goes down, his sight starts going white, and sound starts to drown out. It’s a pretty dramatic event for the player who has been downed. The other player must run to their rescue, and can drag them to a safe spot to patch them up. Getting hit during the patching process pushes the progress bar back, or cancels it entirely, so you need to find good cover to patch your partner up. It’s a little more advanced compared to the life system in Gears of War, but sometimes depending on an AI player to drag you and patch you up is utterly hopeless. One time my AI buddy dragged me into a wall until we both died. It was a rare occasion though.

Like I mentioned before with the melee button, there are definitely some issues with how the controls are mapped. For instance, the ability to feign death and ability to go into overkill are on the same button. So when you decide “Alright, time to go into overkill” in front of a group of enemies, you might hit it right when you are low on life and instead feign death, which results in a very bad situation. Chances are you’ll die while you’re getting up, and your chance to overkill is ruined the moment you hit feign death. I’ve had this happen to me a few times, and it’s no fun.

Bros before Hos Both characters can also show each other appreciation with playing air guitars on their guns or fist pounding or giving each other high-fives. You can also show disapproval by headbutting your partner, or smacking him on the back of the head. This can be pretty funny sometimes, but lacks variety, as there are only 3 or 4 appreciation and disapproval emotes.

Another horrible part of the game, that I mock whenever I can, is the “Broseph” attitude portrayed by Salem. A lot of the words that come out of his mouth come straight from a frat boy, which is not the character a lot of gamers want to play. He also acts like a complete idiot, trying to ignore all signs of conspiracy that could totally get him killed. I know they wanted to make it seem like both characters are complete opposites, so they “complete one another”, but it’s too extreme to be believable. There’s also the whole “privatizing the military” backdrop which is an important topic in this day in age, especially with Iraq, but these characters and story are not the best way to go about this topic. I agree with Tycho from Penny Arcade, who feels that they wanted to portray a message, but completely missed the target with this game.

At last, we come to the multiplayer aspect of the game. EA has tried to save a lot of the series that they bought out and destroyed (like Command and Conquer), but they always do shit different just to feel like they are the Microsoft of gaming, but end up screwing themselves in the process. They decided to put Army of Two on their own servers, and make one of the players a host for all multiplayer games. First off, just use Microsoft’s servers like everyone else. They worked with multiple games in the past, and would work for your game as well. But no, they had to be their own entity. As a result, the matchmaking is horrible, and disconnections seem to happen so often that finishing a complete game is a miracle. Besides the actual connection, the multiplayer can be pretty fun. I used to play Doubles in Halo 3 with my buddy Kyle from college, and this game offered that plus objectives that you pretty much need to do to win. From killing a specific target, to destroying a WMD, to saving a hostage and bringing him to an evac point, they are all interesting things to do as well as making sure the opposing team doesn’t get to it first. There are also AI enemies throughout the map, who kick the crap out of you pretty well, considering their accuracy is ridiculously good compared to a real player firing at you. At the same time, each level only has a certain number of objectives possible, so after playing a map three or four times, you know where everything is, so it can get kinda boring. I stopped playing multiplayer due to the connection issues, but if EA either fixes the problem or moves to Microsoft’s servers, I would gladly play again.

In conclusion, Army of Two is an awesome game with some neat co-op tricks and tactics, but might be a little too short, with horrible multiplayer servers. There is also just a feeling while you’re playing of lack of quality, but I still had a lot of fun while playing it.

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