Army of Two Review - 18/03/2008

EA's eagerly anticipated 3rd Person shooter has suffered numerous delays over the past year and has now hit our shelves, but has it been worth the wait?

Army of Two was announced back in July 2007, and was set to be the next-gen step in co-op gameplay and break the moulds of other shooters, such as Gears of War. The game features several new gameplay elements to this struggling genre, but will they pay off?

The plot of this title is fairly similar to most modern day action games, with terrorists in war-torn counties like Iraq and Afghanistan. It puts you in the shoes of either Elliot Salem or Tyson Rios, two army hard-men, who are being specially trained secretly by the government to fix issues between rebels and their armed forces. So when the SSC (Security and Strategy Corporation) buy out another military organisation it causes controversy between many as to whether they have too much power. Enter Salem and Rios to investigate the issue and try and fix it. This story is pretty complex with a fair amount of plot twists and turns to surprise the player and change their views on certain characters within the storyline. Although the details in the story are large, the game is terribly short at only 5-7 hours long, and some of the twists move too fast. Players can easily miss a vital piece of information that links levels together. This can cause frustration and you may begin to wonder why you are killing wave after wave of eastern terrorists.

There's quite simply not another co-op experience as well designed for 2-player partnership as Army of Two

With this story in mind, the gameplay should execute the plot nicely with some great set pieces. At the start of the game you choose between Rios or Salem, they have no differences other than the appearance (which is almost the same anyway). You will be taken straight to a training camp to brush up on your combat and team skills. This only takes a few minutes and puts you through the entire game's actions. Whilst not being many of them, it really is good to see a decent shooter with no over-complicated buttons. R2 is shoot, L2 is zoom-aim, left analogue stick is movement, right analogue stick is regular aim, X is action and square is reload. These controls, compared to games of a similar genre, are really easy to get used to.

Most surprising of the gameplay elements is the lack of a cover system. Sure, pressing triangle will throw your character against a wall, but you won't be stuck onto like in most games, instead you can move freely around it without being shot. This works extremely well and is easily better than most cover systems due to the fact that you don't have to press any other buttons to break free and run from a dangerous situation. You can still blind fire and peek over the cover to kill your enemies like normal. The co-op features of the game are in good quantity, such as a step lift like splinter cell's pull up system in which one player supports the other to give a boost to reach higher areas and vantage points. You also use your partner in vehicle sections, of which there just aren't enough. With only a few dotted around in some of the levels, they become scarce and are a right laugh with your mates in the back of a truck or a hovercraft shooting enemies while you dodge incoming obstacles.

The graphics are great, creating a real sense of atmosphere.

The AI is also a vital part of the game's campaign, and although the AI partner comes in handy, he can't shoot to save his life; the only thing he's useful for is reviving you if you become injured on the floor, but even then he can die. You will spend most of your time killing enemies that he's been shooting at for what seems like years! I would strongly recommend bringing in a buddy for the game as it is better being able to tell your friend where to go and what to do, instead of shouting at your television screen! In and out of levels, you will earn cash for completing various tasks and receive bonuses for doing the dirtier deeds for insiders on your missions. You can then spend this money on weapons, upgrades and even paint-jobs for your guns! This is about the only replay value in the entire game, as for the most part it is repetitive and nothing new.

The presentation of the game is superb, with great character models and plenty of detail in buildings and gorgeous textures on backdrops. The game features many different countries for the dynamic duo to do battle in, each with unique styles that affect lighting and viewpoints. The graphics are great, and the sound is almost second-to-none with great voice acting and sharp explosions, but the bullet noises are a real let-down and end up sounding like paintball guns. Overall though the presentation for the most part is good.

Back to Back mode is fun, but underused.

Like every single shooter out there, AoT implements a multiplayer option. With only 2 vs. 2 it's a little disappointing for hardcore players, but has a really nice twist and makes playing with random strangers more friendly and personal than before. The multiplayer consists of you and your partner fulfilling various objectives in a given map, such as escorting an informant to an extraction point or assassinating a threat. With each action you complete you receive cash, and with that cash you can purchase different weapon sets to overcome your enemy. But these weapons are generally useless, and in some cases are worse than the default weapons that you will be given at the start of the multiplayer experience. The PS3 version also has split-screen online which has been implemented nicely into more recent titles and is making a nice entrance onto Sony's premier console. One of the few problems with the game is that there are some terrible lag issues on certain games, but it's forgiven as the majority of lag-less games offer a decent experience for you to sink your teeth into. Unfortunately, although good, the multiplayer lacks depth, and replay value and is very repetitive, much like the campaign and will leave you feeling hungry for more gaming goodness, especially after a few delays here and there for various reasons, you would've thought that the game would last more than a week or so.

Although the campaign and the multiplayer are slightly above average it doesn't really justify a purchase of 50. It is very much a rental game for when the lads are round and you want a game to play fast without anything to really feel missed when you return it.

- Sam Foster



EA Montreal
PS3 - Xbox 360