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Tuesday | June 2, 2020
Army Of Two

Army Of Two

Army Of Two has been getting huge amounts of hype since screenshots and videos of it emerged last year. The whole concept of the game is cooperative game play with a human or AI player, you take control of a two man task force who hire their military services to the highest bidder. It is another title in the ever growing Electronic Arts catalogue.

The storyline of Army Of Two takes place across a 16 year span and is based around the exploits of Elliot Salem and Tyson Rios, two hard ass ex Army rangers with a gift for being dropped into hot zones and taking care of high tension situations. They originally followed their former commander Dalton to Security and Strategy Corporation (or SSC) and in taking care of these difficult situations they earn a lot of money.

As the storyline develops (and without giving too much of it away), Salem and Rios begin to notice leaks during their missions as well as a bill in Congress to fully privatise the military. As they both battle through ever more difficult missions they start to unravel a complex tale of conspiracy and twisted political workings.

In the single player game, you obviously choose either Salem or Rios and you battle your way as a "team" through the six mission based campaigns. So far it is pretty much standard fodder aka Gears Of War, but there are some noticeable differences. Firstly, a lot of the game mechanic surrounding Army Of Two is based on a system called "Aggro". The more you fire and the more aggressive you are being in combat, the more the enemies attention will focus on you. Sounds pretty realistic and it is a rather appealable facet to this genre. When one of the guys in the team is being aggressive (and glowing red) you can use this tactic, so the other player can sneak around (without being noticed) to flank the enemies and take them out from the side, or behind. Another added benefit of a high state of aggro is that you soon earn a state of aggression called overkill – in which you enter a bullet time mode for a short period of time, are virtually invisible and your attacks dish out double damage.

Aggro is included to enhance the team play element, because you really will find it extremely hard to succeed in this game by yourself. Following the same principal as the awesome Gears Of War damage methodology, you really are not invincible, and if you fool yourself into thinking you are, you will end up a bloody corpse. It is important, even when playing with the computer AI to ensure that you work together, one offering fire support while the other moves around picking off the enemies.

Commands are given to your team mate with the d-pad and each command has a passive and aggressive mode (blue or red) which dictates how he should fight. Mastering this will be essential if you wish to do well in the game as you will need to move your team mate with you via these commands. You can tell him to take cover and not to fire often therefore recuperating or staying out of sight, or he can take cover but fire aggressively (meaning he enters a high state of aggro and you can then move around to try and kill the guys from the flanks). You can also tell him to follow you and supply cover fire when engaged or to follow you while laying down maximum damage to the enemy. You can even tell him to run ahead in the same two modes. All in all these offer quite a lot of variety in game play style.

The enemies you face are categorised into three main groups, blue for the grunts, red for the officers and yellow/gold for the heavy armoured front facing soldiers. The gold coloured foes are more difficult to fight as you have to engage them with one player while the other tries to slip around the rear and shoot him in the unarmored areas.

To further enhance the team feel of the game, there are many sections which require both players to progress further. There are step lifts (one player does a firemans lift and then turns around from the raised area and pulls his buddy up). Certain doors also need two people to open and there are vehicles which require one person to drive while the other fires (very like HALO). There are also heavily armoured turrets to mount as well as the ability to lift up objects like riot shields or car doors, with one player carrying it and the other popping up behind him raining fire on the enemy.

So as you can see there are a plethora of two player faceted gameplay mechanics at large, however the most poignant of them all is the "back to back" mode. This happens at key situations within the game when you are surrounded. Bullet time mode springs into action and both players stand back to back (not surprisingly!) and engulf the enemy soldiers in a mass of bulletfire. Unfortunately this mode is scripted and you can’t enter it when you reach a certain level of aggro. It just happens.

When you take too much damage you don’t just die and restart the level, you take a fall and must gain the healing of your partner to proceed. This is very well handled as you are dragged into a safe area and given medication. Additionally while you are sitting in severe pain you are still able to give covering fire as your friend attempts to find a safe place out of firing range. After all there is not much point in him administering first aid if he ends up with a bullet in the back of his head.

Throughout the missions you will be given objectives which vary in nature from eliminating a key person to blowing up a building or computer system. You are also tasked with secondary objectives such as locating prisoners or finding a briefcase. All of these give you money with which to invest in new weapons or powerups for current weapons (and there are many of these). Both Salem and Rios carry three firearms and a handful of grenades into each mission. The primary weapon is a machine gun, or shotgun which is used to wipe out as many foes as possible, but you are also given a secondary weapon such as a pistol which is used in emergency "Oh Sh*t I have no ammo!" situations. Lastly there is a special weapon class which include sniper rifles, RPGs and Stinger missiles. Everything in this list including your face masks and body armour are customisable and upgradeable. I have played this game for about 25 hours now and I still haven’t bought all the upgrades. Hell, you can even upgrade the ammo packs for each gun, doubling or even tripling your shot rate before a reload! The modifications don’t end here however as you can even add shields to the guns. All of these add or deduct key aspects of each weapon such as damage or rate of fire.

Lastly, you can "pimp your gun" and turn your firearm into a gold or platinum based unit. Why? I have no idea, I guess this is to appeal to all you budding pimps or rap stars out there (they do add aggro to your character as the sight of a gleaming gold shotgun will raise your awareness to the enemies!). When black or gun metal grey isn’t enough, then you can bling your SMG so it won’t clash with your diamond plated earrings. ermm…….

The single player campaign is for a change very enjoyable and isn’t just tacked on to the multiplayer meat n’ bones, however even this is best played with a friend. A human player won’t need you to tell him/her what to do at every corner. The computer AI is not wonderful, it makes mistakes when you least want it. For example when I took too much damage and fell to my knees, my AI buddy decided that instead of dragging me behind a nearby crate that dragging me in circles around a gold plated heavy soldier would be a better idea. Granted we both ended up in body bags, but those twenty or so seconds were worth it for the comedy factor. If only I had my video line out working when that happened!

Other options which are practically useless are the co-op snipe mode and the ability to swap weapons. You really need to do either of these. Then there are the modes to congratulate or insult your colleague. You can shake his hand, play air guitar or just slap him. It is an inclusion merely for the comedy factor as it does nothing in the game with regards to statistics either way.

Army Of Two is really best enjoyed with a friend and the game gives you a few options as to how you will play. You can play split screen or via a private co-op game across the lan, or even online within a public game. This is really when the game comes good, with another intelligent player at your side rather than you having to bark commands at every corner.

Multiplayer is also catered for and players can take on opponents across four maps with three different game modes. Bounties, Extraction and Warzones. Extraction randomly spawns Prisoners of War or VIP’s on the map and you have to carry them to safe locations. Bounties asks you to eliminate a key target such as a figurehead or gang leader. Warzones is a combination of both other modes with additional objectives, such as blowing up a key installation as well as defending another. Every completed objective earns you money which you store until the end and the player with the most money wins. You can also use this money to buy new weapons or upgrades. There are also a mixture of AI bots in each of these multiplayer game scenarios.

Graphically the game is a joy to behold and is up there with Gears Of War in regards to character and map detail. Each of the characters has hugely detailed models from their face masks to the battle damaged armour. Strikingly the enemy characters are just as good and they also move very realistically, rather than a series of mashed together animations. The textures are sharp, detailed and very rich in colour. There is occasional pop in however it is hardly noticeable and I only mention it in my interests of being totally thorough. The Air craft carrier mission is still engraved in my mind, it is really that good.

Compared to the Xbox 360 game, the Playstation 3 version is just as striking with no frame rate or graphical issues I could see. In fact with the inclusion of six axis controls (which acts as a rather nifty weapon reload option or a parachute angle of descent) I would actually say the Playstation 3 version is the one to own.

The game audio is equally as impressive with some wonderful spot effects and excellent voice acting. It is worth mentioning that the language is certainly not suitable for young children and is clearly marketed towards older teenagers and adults. Equally impressive are the weapon sounds, from reload clicks to impressive booms to shake your speakers.

The single player experience of Army Of Two is excellent with some great level design, stellar graphics and exciting audio. The only downside is the rather short campaign life of around five to seven hours. The AI isn’t wonderful but it doesn’t really detract from the game play and the environments are immersive enough to keep even the most hardened game addicts happy.

The Co-op play and multiplayer take the experience up a notch and provide many hours of team based fragging, long after the single player is over you will still be enjoying the wealth and variety of multiplayer options in store.

If you fancy the idea of being a mercenary, and have a good friend you like to game with, then Army Of Two comes very highly recommended.

A great singleplayer game and an even better multiplayer game ! Get your best buddy around to the house and forget about your troubles.
Playstation 3 haters will loathe this game as it looks as good as anything i have seen on the xbox 360. Game developers need to start using this as a benchmark.
Great sound effects, nice atmospheric background music and top notch AAA voice acting.
Shortish single player game but has a lot of replay value and is fantastic in multiplayer
(not an average)
Well worth the money, and is a fun experience, right from the first class presentation down to the core gameplay.


About Author

Stuart Davidson

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