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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA Montreal

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

March 4, 2008

 

 

– Brings some excellent Gears of War-style controls to the gameplay

– Revive feature turns up the suspense – can you resuscitate your partner/be resuscitated by your partner before everything whites out?

 

 

– Playing throughout the game “solo” doesn’t measure up to co-op multiplayer

– Lagging and disconnecting issues hamper very promising online Xbox Live play

– Not many surprises in the game’s four-letter-word-filled story

– Aggravating damage elements at play; takes too many bullets to take down enemies

 

 

Review: Gears of War (360)

Review: Conflict: Denied Ops (PS3)

Review: Turok (360)

 

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Army of Two

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

In the world of mercenaries, soldiers of fortune and private military personnel, one is the loneliest number. It’s much easier to make the lucrative money that accompanies successful completion of missions with a buddy who’s got your back – and that’s the premise of Electronic Arts’ Army of Two for the Xbox, a co-op third-person shooter that demands using two private military soldiers to achieve the game’s many mission objectives.

 

army of two          army of two

 

Bringing a new level of co-op play that is usually reserved for a Tom Clancy title, Army of Two puts you in the role of one of the two main characters –foul-mouthed private military soldiers (the amount of four-letter words shot out of character’s mouths are roughly at the same rate that bullets fly out of their guns, it seems), who rely on each other to survive the latest dangerous mission that only a mercenary force can complete.

 

The story follows the pair as the work their way through hotspot after hotspot, succeeding where the U.S. Armed Forces can’t. The main plot centers on

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the push for the private military to take over the role of the U.S. military during warfare. An interesting premise, but there’s no surprise which way the story’s headed, as every supposed would-be “twist” might as well be on a flashing red neon sign, because gamers will be able to see it coming before it even rounds the bend.

 

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As a single gamer, you’ll have to control not only a main mercenary, but also his partner. Gameplay boils down to either you or your partner becoming the “hot” target of any enemies (seen by the increasing red glow around one of the two from the Aggro meter) which then allows you or your partner to “ghost” himself (becoming “invisible” to all enemies), and sneak behind or flank enemy lines and eliminate them. Sounds great in theory, but single gamers will get somewhat frustrated with the uneven A.I. of the secondary mercenary under their control. Gamers can command their partner to hold a position or advance, while they do the opposite. But there are instances that gamers will wish that their partner were more intelligent (although the A.I. isn’t supremely clever, it isn’t exactly dim-witted, either), advancing if they are under heavy fire or immediate harm instead of following orders too precisely.

 

Enemies are another source of frustration, because they’re all too heavily armored to take down easily, even with the heavy-duty arsenal gamers have at their disposal (newer, more powerful weapons can be purchased, once gamers complete missions to earn cash). In fact, there’s certain enemies gamers will run into that can only be taken down with shots from behind, requiring and downright “forcing” that co-op gameplay to progress through the mission.

 

But if you have a human co-op partner, the buddy A.I. suddenly isn’t an issue, because gamers will have a real-life counterpart that will react better to the situation at hand. There are vehicles that need to be driven which utilize both mercenaries, as well as shield tactics, that work much better with two human partners. Army of Two really is best played as a co-op affair, as the single-player adventuring just doesn’t measure up, although it’s still a good solo gamer game.

 

 

army of two          army of two

 

Some Gears of War-style controls really elevate the standard third-person shooting controls. Using cover is a big aspect of taking fire while a partner attempts flanking tactics. And like Gears of War, you can blind fire a weapon while behind cover to intensify the enemies’ attention on the Aggro partner.

 

The control that doesn’t hit the bull’s eye is the game’s shooting. Aiming requires a lot of precision, and as mentioned before the enemies have so much protection covering their bodies, gamers will unload clip after clip of ammo just to drop a handful of opposition forces. That gives the enemy that much better of an opportunity to drop gamers and/or their partner first.

 

When they do get dropped (and it will happen) you can make use of the revive feature, so that a disabled partner can be brought back into the field of battle before they fade away into the white light – literally. The longer one of the partners goes without medical help from the other partner, the more the wounded mercenary fades out to white on-screen. If they reach the white light and die, the mission is over.

 

Potentially, Army of Two is a very good online title via Xbox Live. Gamers partner up with a co-op gamer, and combat not only another co-op team, but also a bunch of NPCs populating the map, who are just as intent on eliminating a team as the other human co-op team is. In a nod to the Battlefield or Halo series, there are vehicles (one gamer drives, the other handles an on-board gun) that can be used, too. In addition to the obvious “kill the enemy team before they kill you” gameplay, there are also in-game side missions that can earn a team money they can use to upgrade weaponry.

 

As mentioned above, however, Army of Two’s online play is only potentially very good, because the amount of lagging and disconnecting (at one point, five games in a row wound up disconnecting in the middle of play) experienced by this reviewer really took away from the fun that was had during the instances that Army of Two stayed connected and lag-free. (And it was only with Army of Two; after quickly swapping out Army of Two for Call of Duty 4 following a spate of disconnecting Army of Two sessions, Call of Duty 4 had no problems whatsoever online.) Hopefully, theses issues aren’t widespread (or will be fixed quickly if they are), because Army of Two has some strong online features and gameplay ready and raring to go.

 

Army of Two’s solo mission doesn’t match the firepower of its two-person co-op play, either in the offline game or online. But it does have plenty enough gun-filled action to satiate any violence-fans fill, and if the online gameplay is functionally free of lag or connectivity issues, Army of Two is one of the better recently released titles in regards to Xbox Live gaming.

 

- Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(March 25, 2008)

 

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