I finally beat: Army of Two
Sometimes, just sometimes, you can take something that shouldn’t go together and it’ll turn out OK. Maybe even good. Like Peanut butter and chocolate, or Tabasco sauce and Soy sauce on a chicken sandwich (really, it works),
…or EA and a good game.
Or at least EA and an OK game. Sure, they just copied Gears of War, and perhaps not as well as Gears, but it has its own merits. And you can’t earn as many achievements playing the Gears Campaign AGAIN, now can you? And the game isn’t dark and dreary. Just because Brown is Real, doesn’t mean I like it. Even AoT’s “everything is sand” is better. At least it’s brighter. Unlike Skate, which only had to topple a 10 year old stale serie, AoT has some stiff competition from Gears of War, Halo, and every other multiplayer shooter out there. So, how does it stack up? And what does it do wrong (it’s EA, they had to screw something up)?
To start with, Army of Two is an Unreal 3 engine game. That means you’ll run into the same clipping issues you do in every other Unreal 3 game, and it looks a LOT like every other U3 shooter out there. I remember discussing with Detnap that it appears identical to another game,…but the name escapes me at the moment.
It also has the gong. The Gears of War gong that sounds whenever all the enemies are dead. It’s even the exact same damn sound: a gong. Yes. That is how blatant they stole from Gears. It, much like everything else, is slightly worse; it gongs when, sometimes, there is someone still alive. I didn’t encounter that issue until the very last level, however, so it’s not like this game is buggy.
Of course, the very last level is only 6 hours into the game (6 missions, first being a tutorial). Another thing they apparently stole from Gears is the very short single player. Of course, Gear’s meat was the multiplayer.
Multiplayer is very interesting, and I prefer the idea to Gears. Instead of 2 teams of 4 killing each other, it is a 2 on 2 match. Instead of just you shooting each other however, each multiplayer map is GTA-ized and filled with random enemies and objectives to complete. The two teams then race to kill/rescue/explode the objectives and get money for it. I’ve played a couple of matches and found it to either be an absolute blast, or begrudgingly painful. Either the two teams are relatively equally matched, taking each other out and either has a good chance of completing an objective, or they are uneven, one team begins to pull ahead by a bit too much. Then, with their extra money they upgrade all of their equipment well past the other team’s and proceed to win every encounter (netting them more money, and depriving the other team of any). Basically, it can become very lopsided quickly, and the balance is almost impossible to restore.
This isn’t the only aspect that causes frustration. Controls are non-too intuitive. Remember how Gears had the Roll and Take cover commands be the same button, along with run, and how STUPID that was? Well, AoT fixed that by making the roll button seperate, and cover is non-sticky. Your guy will simply blind fire over anything he is near, or around any corner. Most of the time it even works and lets you look ‘left’ around a corner. Sometimes, this doesn’t detect and leads to an unnecessary death, or seeking of different cover simply to be able to shoot at the enemy. This doesn’t happen too often, but often enough to be noticed (most blatently in the first tutorial where you have to drag your partner around the corner and heal them, then shoot around the corner to hit the guys there….that corner is not ‘sticky’ and won’t reposition the camera correctly, forcing you to just run out and shoot everyone without any cover whatsoever.)
The Roll may have been made separate, but the A button is still overloaded. It is context sensitive to any particular action. If you are low health, it’ll feign death. If you are near a ladder, it’ll climb up it. If you are near a place where you have to perform a co-op aciton, it’ll initiate it for player 1 (bottom of two step, etc). If you are near a switch, it’ll press the button. If you are near a vehicle or turret, it’ll let you get inside. If you have killed enough people to rage-up and start Overkill mode, it will activate it for the team. The problem is if you have any two of these actions present at once (most common with Feign death, and anything else). Wounded and want to quickly jump into the shielded turret? You better be sure the text at the bottom of the screen reads ‘turret’ and not feign death. Need to feign death, but all of a sudden you get the power-up mode available? Which does the game then let you do? Good question. I bet you wish you could CONTROL which you did.
Still, this is a fun co-op game. Most reviews bashed on it a bit for crappy companion AI. That being said, if you bought this game and intended to play ANY of it alone: You, sir, are a moron.
The game is called Army of Two. It is designed, from the ground up, to be a co-op experience. Sure, the co-op-ness has been severally cut back from the initial previews, but it is still ‘more’ co-op than any game out there. If you have a friend, and you like shooting people, and you don’t mind that the game is a bit on the short side, then it is quite fun.
Oh, and blinging out weapons is just plain fun. Gold-platted AK-47 that doesn’t even look recognizable by the time you’ve added a 120 barrel clip to it? Awesome.
Not really worth $60, but I don’t exactly feel cheated at its short length, either. Of course, that’ll probably change once EA starts to try and sell me new guns and levels at $10 a pop. THEN I’ll feel cheated. Cause the game certainly isn’t worth $90.