Army of Two: The 40th Day Hands-On ImpressionsBy Jake Gaskill - Posted Sep 10, 2009
I didn’t have the chance to spend a terribly long time playing EA Montreal’s upcoming Army of Two: The 40th Day, the follow-up to the developer’s 2008 co-op-centric shooter. However, the two missions I was able to play through, both of which took place in a Shanghai zoo under siege, showed off a few of the key ways that EA Montreal has done everything it can to make 40th Day the game that players wanted the first time around.
Electronic Arts producer Matt Turner and I moved into position above the carcass-strewn hippo pen. Using the game’s fantastic cover system, which lets you simply move into cover by approaching a usable surface as opposed to having to push a button to initiate it, I crept behind a guard railing, while Turner sniped two baddies below us before targeting an enemy on an opposing walkway. I set my sniper scope on the other enemy patrolling the same area across the way, and at the count of three, we both fired, and just like that, four deadly foes were dispatched without so much as a peep from the remaining forces.
Now, this was just one way we could have handled this scenario. In fact, I played through it again, only this time, I went in guns blazing, and it was an entirely different experience, mainly because a whole mess of pissed-off murderers knew exactly where I was and they weren’t content with keeping that information to themselves. And while strategizing with your partner before entering a firefight is still a crucial part of the game, there are also incentives to use your head as much as your gun in combat.
A perfect example of this idea came in the second section of the demo, which started out near a downed helicopter surrounded by enemies. Turner took the lead and tracked a patrolling guard. A second later, he had taken the enemy hostage, and we were in perfect position to start the negotiations. As we moved ahead, the remaining three guards noticed their wandering pal’s current predicament, and they reacted accordingly. After they all dropped their weapons and fell to their knees, I was able to move in and tie them up. This not only prevented us from having to waste ammo and risk our lives, but it also gave us access to special weapon upgrades that we wouldn’t have been able to access had we blasted our way onto the scene. Again, it all comes down to variety, and 40th Day promises to feature tons of it.
As in the first game, variety also carries over heavily into the weapons customization system, which has received significant improvements to make it even deeper than before. Described by Turner as “LEGO with guns,” the system lets users mix and match all aspects of every gun within a given class. You can swap out gun barrels, grips, scopes, bayonets, clips, and so on, all of which influence your weapons handling, damage and other capabilities.
Graphically, the game looks as sharp as ever, and includes a number of solid improvements. A great new touch is the way equipment now shifts and bounces dynamically on the mercenaries' bodies as they move. The deadly duo also feels and looks much weightier as well. Plus, standard military bases and missile silos are a thing of the past, as evidenced by the zoo level, among other environments. Battles will take place in city streets and in various real-world locales, which in turn gives the combat a much more grounded, yet chilling, feel.
EA Montreal says that it listened very closely to what players had to say about the first game, and when you see the game in action, you can definitely see the results. For co-op fiends out there, or anyone looking to see what all this co-op business is all about, you will definitely want to keep your solid-gold sights on Army of Two: The 40th Day.