Going to the movies, playing catch, eating at a fancy restaurant, and Army of Two. Some things are just better with a second person involved. Sure, you could play Army of Two by yourself, but that would be like playing swingball without an opponent. You loner.
The title is fairly self explanatory. There are two of you, a big man with a mask and guns called Tyson Rios, and smaller big man with a mask and guns called Elliot Salem, and you shoot bad guys together, basically an army’s worth of them. They could have called the games “two man shooty bang bang” and it would have still been accurate, but obviously not as catchy.
The 40th Day is the second installment in the Army of Two games, however full disclosure that this is my first Army of Two game because I’m a rebel who doesn’t always play in the release order like the man wants me to. Rios and Salem are working as contract mercenaries in Shanghai when the entire city is bombed and plunged into destruction and chaos for reasons that are only ever vaguely explained by the plot at best. It’s a good reason to shoot a lot of bad guys apparently, which is good enough for me.
Unlike co-op in most games, that are essentially the single player experience but with more/tougher enemies and the fun of dragging around dead weight because your friend hasn’t played the game before, Army of Two’s core gameplay revolves a lot around working effectively as a team. There is an aggro system, and since a large wave of enemies only seem to be able to focus on one person at a time, you can use this to your advantage by having one player have all enemies focus their fire on them while the second player moves undetected to flank and surprise enemies, or even just to catch their breath long enough to regenerate health. Using aggro to your advantage can make all the difference life and being booted right back to the last checkpoint.
The other thing it throws at you are moral choices, which is nothing new of course, but Army of Two: The 40th Day handles them in a unique way. If you have two players, only one person can make a decision, and it’s the first person to decide that makes the decision. I played through with my flatmate Dan, who would usually beat me to the choice by choosing the evil option, because he likes to make dick choices, I guess. You then get to see the unforeseen consequences of your actions in a brief flash forward scene, which is a welcome feature for moral choices. Letting a person walk free may result in them gunning down an innocent tomorrow, or killing them could end with a grief stricken family member taking their own life, all because of you (or your flatmate’s) completely unrelated decision.
There’s also a GPS screen both players can bring up which allows you to tag enemies for your team mate and see them through walls, but it’s battery life is worse than the iPhone, which means a lot of time is spent behind cover waiting for it to recharge, meaning combat segments end up being quite slow and methodical rather than fast paced. It’s the kind of game where if you don’t have a solid bit of cover you’ll end up being shredded to pieces in a few seconds, at which point your teammate can attempt a daring rescue and usually get shredded to pieces as well before you both get sent way back to the last brutally placed check point.
It’s worth mentioning that the gun customisation is the biggest selling point for Army of Two: The 40th Day. The shop function is pretty unintuitive, especially since only one person can shop at a time and it only saves your gun customisation after reaching a checkpoint. If you can get past that, then you’ll be spoiled for choice with each gun having customizable stock, barrel, sights, cup holders and paint jobs, which all change the stats on the gun. Heck, you can stick grenade launcher and shotgun attachments on them if you’re into that, though we never quite figured out if those were purely cosmetic or not.
Army of Two: The 40th Day falls flat in areas, it has just enough to be an above average game, but not quite a great game. It has a good emphasis on teamwork, so much so that I expect the single player experience probably isn’t nearly as satisfying. If you have friends you can play games with, it’s probably worth a go if you get the chance. If not, well I guess you’d probably want to find a game that doesn’t remind you of your crippling loneliness.