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Author Topic: Review - Army of Two: The 40th Day (PS3)  (Read 3767 times)

Mark

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Review - Army of Two: The 40th Day (PS3)
« on: January 22, 2010, 07:56:28 PM »


The first Army of Two was flawed, but still a good game with a lot of promise.  I had high expectations for the sequel, albeit perhaps a bit unrealistic (and it doesn't help that we've been playing the stellar Modern Warfare 2 prior to its release).

Army of Two: The 40th Day is a 3rd-person shooter similar to Gears of War.  You and a friend (or the computer) work together to shoot enemies and save the day.  You can play local split screen or online with 2 players total.  There are other multiplayer modes, but we will only be reviewing the campaign at this time.  New weapons and accessories can be bought and modified at any time with cash you earn and find throughout the levels.  There is a pretty nifty array of armaments and modifications to choose from.  Cooperating with your partner through tactics and team maneuvers is essential to success.

NOTE:  We played the entire game in local split-screen coop on normal difficulty.  I would recommend that most people play it on easy your first time through.  It won't challenge you, but it will minimize the aggravation presented by some of the game's weaknesses.  Feel free to disregard this advice if challenge is important to you.

Let me start out by saying I like this game.  I like the series.  I want this series to be better than what it is.  And that it's not a bad game.  Keep that in mind as I proceed to tear it a new one...

The Bad:

- Load times are TERRIBLE.  This is actually the single worst thing about this game.  They might be better on the 360, I would invite a comparison.  Now just to clarify, starting a new level takes a long time.  However, the problem goes beyond this...

- Most games save loaded assets so that when you restart a mission after dying, the load time is small and insignificant.  Not this game.  If you die, feel free to take a bathroom break or heat up a sandwich while it loads.  If you die repeatedly, prepare to have your patience tested vigorously.

- There are load times smack in the middle of levels with no warning.  Usually if you need to put a load time in the middle of a level, you'd at least do it at some transition point.  Opening a door to a new area with some sort of fade out, fade in.  In this game, you could be running down a flight of stairs and the game will just suddenly freeze for 15 seconds while you wonder if your console just overheated.

- Unskippable cut scenes.  The cut scenes themselves aren't bad, but they really aren't that good either.  Certainly not good enough to want to watch over and over.  And that normally wouldn't be a problem except for the fact that they often put cut scenes right after checkpoints.  In other words, if you run into a tough spot where you die a lot, be prepared to not only face waiting for load times, but waiting for the same video to play in its entirety shortly after.  All bosses have videos that play right before you fight them.  Yes, you will watch them over and over until you finally beat him.

- Poor checkpoints.  Let me just give you an example.  This is pretty early on in the game.  You're trying to locate your contact that is trapped in a building.  You get this long cut scene of the building starting to fall apart.  Then you face a couple waves of enemies, including foes with riot shields.  You finally dispatch them and you can take a breather and search for your next objective.  All logic says that this would be a good place for a checkpoint.  Now you need to push your partner over the wall for him to open up the door on the other side for you.  Your partner touches down and gets his bearings as a wave of enemies approaches.  Boom!  Rocket to the face.  Oops, didn't notice that there is a rocket guy that spawned on the roof.  Since this section has you split up and unable to save each other, it's instant game over.  Guess where you start?  Yep, before the cut scene.  I mean, this type of situation is clearly trial and error, yet you are brutally punished to learn it.  For the record, on our second attempt, I ran away to avoid getting hit directly with the rocket, but he hit the structure behind me and the splash killed me.  Not amused.

- Crappy control customization.  This game used L1 and R1 to aim and shoot, respectively.  Most FPS games use L2 and R2.  Unfortunately, this game has minimal customization options for controls and so you will need to get used to them.  Oddly enough, they have full support for players that are lefties (swaps analog and button functionality).  Priorities?

- There are sections of the game where you are split up from your partner, often completely unable to lend assistance.  If your partner dies it's instant game over for both of you.  Seriously... it's like someone in the back said "Hey, there's too much coop in this coop game.  Let's put in some areas where they can't work together at all."

- Saving your partner is poorly implemented.  First of all, why am I exposing half of my body outside of cover when I am trying to save my dying friend?  Second of all, why is it when I press X to "drag" (and save) my partner, I will often ignore my partner right next to me and instead choose to barrel head first into the enemy dugout?  Have you thought of maybe mapping the "save partner" button to something other than "run to your death" button?

- Badly cued level design.  You just cleared the room of baddies.  There is a door that looks like the door you need to go through to progress.  But you've already checked it.  Twice.  You can't interact with it.  It's a dead wall.  OK, so you scour the rest of the room looking for another possible exit or a trigger that will open the door.  Nothing.  While wandering around aimlessly, you pass by that same door you tried 30 seconds ago from the start.  Even though nothing has really changed, you can now open the door.

- Story and writing is borderline awful.  There is one saving grace, which I will mention in the + section.

- Minimal variety of enemies and environments.

- The weapons customization is a big + in this game, yet to get to it is a pain.  One person initiates, the other person needs to move over next to their partner and accept.  Then the first person can customize.  The second person sits and waits.  Once that's done, the second person has to start over and initiate to do his weapons (while the partner waits).  It's very tedious and time consuming (especially considering all the options for each gun).  Why can't you both customize together?  Worse yet, if you die after customization and before a checkpoint, guess what happens to all that time you spent?

- Melee sucks now.  What happened?  It was better in the original game!

- Gore is toned down and weapons feel weaker than they should.  Enemies that should be dead seem to randomly get a second wind and either get up like they slipped and fell or shoot you from prone.

- Added tactical options like "mock surrender" feel like novelty gimmicks.

- This only happened once in one play through, but I fell through the ground and went into a perpetual state of falling in the middle of a level.  Restarting fixed it and it had not happened again.

The Good:

+ The fundamental game mechanics are good.  The basic premise of the game is good.  It is fun to play together with a friend.

+ Nice variety of weapons and customizations.

+ You can create your own custom mask on a computer and upload it to wear in game.

+ Moral choices are a cool addition to the game.  Trying to save civilians seems worth it.

+ There are some points in the game where you make choices and then it shows you the consequences in a series of cut scenes.  It's pretty interesting to watch and the art is well done.

+ Level design and voice acting are above average, despite the limitations (lack of level variety and Salem being a tool).

Conclusion:

Despite my disappointments, we still had a (mostly) fun time playing through the game and actually plan on playing through it again soon to see the results of all of the choices you can make.

I give this game a coop score of 8.00.  Still very flawed, but still very fun.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2011, 11:17:07 AM by Mark »

Tina

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Re: Review - Army of Two: The 4oth Day (PS3)
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2010, 01:32:02 PM »
I like playing this game.  In the start I was disappointed a little because like Mark, I have high hope for this game.  After playing it for awhile I got use to it and did have fun.  It's just got a lot of potential to be a great game, now it's just a good game.  A few annoyances here and there as Mark mentioned.  The save/check point and unable to skip the cut scenes are my baggiest pet peeves.  But I would still say this is a game worth playing for sure.

tina

Mark

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Re: Review - Army of Two: The 4oth Day (PS3)
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2010, 02:20:07 PM »
The second play through was more fun since we played on easy and already knew for the most part how to best approach each situation (there are a lot of areas where you get ambushed and just knowing where they come from and when is a huge help).

We encountered another odd bug where we killed a wave of enemies and then the rest of the enemy waves did not load.  I knew what was supposed to happen from our previous play through.  Nothing.  This also meant that we couldn't proceed through the level because the spawns tie in with level progression (for example, the final wave of enemies will generally blow through a wall that you will then use to exit the area after downing them).

Fortunately, a game reset did resolve this and it worked the next time.  Still, 2 play throughs, 2 bad bugs.

I remember looking through the end credits.  There were like 100 testers listed.  And a full team for QC.  How is it we always manage to find the bugs that a team of 100 paid people don't?

 




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