Gaming Today Impressions of Army of Two (PS3)
Army of Two
Developer: EA Montreal
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
ESRB Rating: M for Mature (Blood, Strong Language, Intense Violence)
Release Date: March 4, 2008
Before I really get into talking about Army of Two, I think it’s only fair to point out that I love co-op games. As such, the news that this game would be built around a co-op campaign was very exciting to me. If I had the time back that I’ve spent playing co-op games like Vietcong, I could probably retire on it. I’d also like to mention that I ended up getting Army of Two for the PlayStation 3. I had actually intended to pick the game up for Xbox 360 so I could play online with a friend of mine; however, the news that we’d both have to have a Gold account to play online ended that fantasy fairly quickly. Instead, I went with the PS3 version for the free online play.
Right out of the box, I got a good vibe from Army of Two. The game starts you and your partner (AI controlled if you’re playing alone) off in basic training. Basic is the keyword here, as you receive a quick run-through of the skills you need to survive, and you’re whisked away to your first mission.
Army of Two is an impressive game visually. The models are extremely well-crafted, and the environments show a lot of attention to detail. The only complaint I had with the graphics was that there tended to be an overabundance of shiny objects, giving everything a near-permanent gleam. Outside of that, the game looks great.
Another interesting feature of Army of Two is that it allows players to radically customize their weaponry. It’s not just a matter of purchasing new weapons, but the ability for each weapon to be customized in terms of suppressors, more effective barrels, and larger capacity magazines. The selection of weaponry is also impressive, as players can choose from dozens of different true-to-life weapons to outfit their characters with. You can even choose to ‘pimp’ your gun, giving it an over-the-top, super shiny appearance. The game features a wide array of weaponry, from the venerable AK-47 assault rifle up to a man-portable minigun that would make a Predator-era Jesse Ventura smile.
Army of Two incorporates a system it calls ‘aggro.’ Much like the agro mechanics of popular MMO’s, aggro determines who the AI enemies concentrate their fire on. Through creative utilization of this mechanic, players can force the enemies to attack one team member while the other sneaks around and flanks them for maximum effectiveness. Aggro can be boosted (or lessened) by the weapon modifications mentioned above. This mechanic is instrumental in completing the game in the most efficient manner.
One facet of this game needs to be mentioned, and that is the character dialogue. Army of Two earns its ‘M for Mature’ rating not so much through blood and gore, but from the violence and the extremely profane language of its two main characters. However, the profanity somehow seems to fit the mood of the game. I didn’t find it annoying, but it’s not a game you’d want your kids hanging out to play with you unless you wanted their vocabularies to be colorfully expanded. Even with the harsh language, the interaction between the two characters is entertaining, and the profane barbs they trade help with this.
The main draw of Army of Two (at least for me) is the co-op play, and if you’re into that this is a game you should certainly check out. The campaign is rather short (only about 6 hours or so), but for the time you are playing it, it’s the best co-op experience I’ve had on a console in a long time. The one downside to it is that the singleplayer experience suffers from the lack of a human partner to help execute your missions.
All in all, Army of Two is a game that isn’t perfect, but it’s darn fun, and isn’t that what games are supposed to be all about? Not to mention the refreshing change of seeing a game that is designed from the ground up as a cooperative experience, something that is all too lacking in today’s game market. Hopefully, this will be the first of many titles along these lines.
You can check out the official network review at 1UP.com here.