Sometimes I really miss the 90’s. Guys weren’t expected to use hair product, 10 year olds didn’t have cell phones and Britney Spears was innocent, full of wonder and hope. Also action movies were silly but awesome with men like Stallone and Arnold leading the way.
If we still lived in the 90’s, Army of Two would have been a movie potentially starring one of these guys and probably Mel Gibson. Sure it wouldn’t be the best movie in the world; it wouldn’t win any awards or anything but it would still sell seats and do well at the box-office. It would probably even have people go watch it more than once with their friends because of the adrenaline pumping action. Funnily enough Army of Two, the video game, should achieve roughly the same accomplishments.
Army of Two focuses on co-op play as the main feature of the game. This game revolves around teamwork. It plays a lot like Gears of War in the sense that one of you plays as big macho guy Rios and the other player (or your AI partner) will be the smaller wise cracking Salem. Both are private mercenaries. The story will send you on missions all over the world to some pretty interesting locations.
The plot is decent, in that action movie way. It’s got the lame lines, too much unnecessary swearing and some good banter between the two characters. There are actually buttons to high five, slap or head-butt your partner, which while a gimmick is pretty fun at first.
The story, while predictable, is enough to keep you interested and it tries to touch on some current real world issues but without the true depth they require to be meaningful to us. Most of the story is told by very well made cut scenes in between the missions and with a bit of chatter during the mission.
The problem is, with all the amazing action games that have come out in recent months one can’t help but make comparisons and notice the subtle differences. Personally, I believe Army of Two may actually have a better story than Call of Duty 4, however, COD4 tells its story so much better that you end up caring far more than in Army of Two.
Let this be a warning to developers everywhere… it’s time to step up your game. This is not a movie, it’s a video game, there are other story telling techniques available to you, use them! The voice acting is done very well, even with the horribly lame writing. In fact sound quality in general is pretty good throughout the game.
There are a few “wow moments” in the game to boost the excitement. An example of this is escaping from a sinking aircraft carrier. Again, after playing through the boat level in COD 4 I couldn’t help but feel the sinking aircraft carrier was lacking full impact. It failed to excite me in a way it probably would have if I had not experienced a similar, yet better, moment in another earlier game. Don’t get me wrong, Army of Two is a really good game, but because us gamers have recently had our first bites of the next gen apple let’s just say the rest of the fruit in the garden doesn’t taste the same anymore.
So what makes it a good game you ask? Well as I said earlier it’s a lot like Gears of War. You run or slide – sliding is wicked cool by the way – into different cover and shoot at bad guys. You can blind fire or pop out and aim. You do not snap into cover and stick to it like in Gears, instead it’s more automatic. You just go up to it and the game automatically understands you’re in cover and lets you pop out in the correct direction or blind fire over it or to the side. While it doesn’t feel as good as the cover in Gears, it’s still a really good system and works well most of the time. The aiming, however, is not very good at first and takes getting used to. It’s simply just too loose and not as tight as the aiming in Gears.
Most of the controls just take a bit of getting used to and aren’t intuitive at first. My only real issue was with using grenades because switching to them, throwing one and then switching back to a gun simply sucks. I find it difficult to believe they couldn’t have found a better control scheme for using grenades.
Controlling your AI partner in single-player fares much better. To get your teammate to go forward, stay in cover, and regroup is all easy enough. While not perfect, he does a decent job of pulling his weight in fights and can certainly get you through the game if you don’t have a friend to play with. Plus you have control of whether he is in aggressive mode or support mode. This is important, as it will affect his agro.