Army of two: The 40th Day Xbox 360 Review

May 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

I enjoyed the original Army of Two immensely, particularly in the manner in which it was supposed to be played: multiplayer. The game successfully worked as a cooperative experience and was also just as intense as any shooter of the modern age should be. Obviously, I’ve always wanted seconds and thus was delighted when The 40th Day was announced to the world.

Burly men, Rios and Salem make their return and the backdrop of this sequel is that of the Chinese city of Shanghai, not the ordinary Shanghai but a vulnerable and shattered Shanghai. With the latter said, expect chaotic moments with buildings toppling down and many other disturbances to the peace. The actual story is unexceptional and makes little sense, although the original didn’t fare much better here, either.

At least the game itself fares much better and, like the original, it encourages teamwork, the use of cover and suppressing and flanking techniques. The game can be played with an AI comrade at your side, though like the original, whilst it’s possible to give instructions to them and they do actually do smart things on occasion, some of their actions will frustrate. It’s definitely best to play with an actual live player beside you or through your broadband connection.

Whilst the game itself remains much the same, changes have been made, some things have been lost, though the overall mechanics of the game are actually superior to those of the original. A very nice touch of said original was when you became immobile due to taking too many bullets; it was then possible for your comrade to grab you by the collar and drag you to a safe place in order to revive you. The 40th Day gives you the opportunity to crawl to safety (enemies will snap your neck or stamp on your head if you aren’t careful, though), meaning that your teammate doesn’t necessarily have to come to you, but you can carry your own wounded body to him if you think the situation better calls for it.

As a cover-based game, it’s also good to see that the cover mechanics are much better. The game has a context sensitive cover system that works really well, and attaching to and off of cover is as responsive as one would hope it would be. Then there’s the blind-fire, which is less accurate and without the all too helpful crosshair; the sensible result is a more skill based tactic.

The Agro system also makes its return, but not without its changes. Overkill has sadly been given the chop, though Agro generally works much in the same manner, with lots of shooting from a single character resulting in the enemies focusing their attentions on him, allowing the other to flank and shoot them in the back. On the original, enemies would completely and politely ignore the player without the full Agro meter, though in such a situation in this sequel you’re not completely invisible to their eyes, which is somewhat of an improvement.

Sticking with the old stuff, The 40th Day also has far superior weapon customisation options when compared to those of the original. You can still give your guns a makeover in both their looks and their specifications, though there’s more you can do with your cash: attaching silencers, scopes or melee weapons to them and upgrading various categories to improve the way that they handle in the hand.

So, the familiar aspects of the game have seen some refinement, although the 40th Day isn’t completely bare of brand new features. A morality system has been implemented, giving you the freedom of choice: saving hostages, cuffing enemies, as well as being asked to make the tougher decisions. Hostages can be saved in a gunfight, although for a better chance of their survival it’s best to sneak behind and grab a high ranking enemy, which will force the others to surrender, allowing you to kill them in cold blood or handcuff them (giving you a boost to your morality) and then you can proceed to save the hostages, without the fear of them being caught in the crossfire. You could also kill said hostages if you’d like, though you won’t get the bonuses (weapon parts etc) that come through being their saviour. There are also Extreme Morality moments to be found throughout the story: perhaps a young boy (minor spoiler ahead) wants to help out with a sniper rifle, it’s then your decision whether he should do just that or stay hidden, but obviously there are going to be consequences to such actions.

Sadly the game has a few problems that knock it down a peg or two. Checkpoints are often set too far apart and cut-scenes can’t be skipped, meaning even the briefest ones become an annoyance if you keep dying in a certain area. Also, why have vehicles been completely removed from the action? I had a lot of fun with the parachute and the hovercraft in the previous game, and they did help mix things up a little, as well.

Back to the good stuff; the overall multiplayer has been improved. Obviously you can play the game through the campaign with another player (online or off), although it also contains a better rounded versus mode, as well. There are three modes as opposed to the one that you got in the original game, and these include the returning Warzone along with Death Matches and Control. Warzone is still the fantastic objective based mode that I had very high praise for in the original game, whilst Death Matches are the usual killing sprees and Control involves you winning sectors to score points. As all the modes are cooperative (with two on each team), the focus of The 40th Day’s excellent online mode wisely remains the same as that of the campaign.

Army of Two: The 40th Day is a very enjoyable game, particularly if played with an actual live player. It’s superior to the original in almost every possible way, and comes highly recommended for not only fans of the original game, but also those seeking a great action title in the early months of 2010.