Army of Two gained a lot of momentum last year when the first trailers were released. Admittedly, I was one of those gamers; slightly intrigued at the thought of a two-player coop game that really put the emphasis on teamwork and two player strategies. On XBL, I had visions of violent and bloody online 2v2 encounters, something not unlike Gears of War, just for two players not eight.
At first glance, Army of Two promises the majority of these things and if you’re keen to play coop via split screen on your Xbox 360 then you’ll probably be in coop gamer heaven for some time. Although the storyline isn’t award winning by any stretch of the imagination, the amount of detail that has gone into the game with regards to gameplay mechanics and weaponry is impressive.
In Army of Two there are two characters: Salem (who comes across as the whiny, smart-alec hotshot) and his older and more experienced partner Rios. You get to choose between which character you want to play and the game begins. The background story is that Salem and Rios are referred to as ‘contractors’ which is a fancy name for mercenaries who are paid to do the jobs nobody else will. You are paid for each job you complete which gives you the option to upgrade weapons and armour. So it’s a basic storyline to follow.
Movement and game dynamics are for the most part, quite straightforward although I was a little confused with some of the input choices on the controller. Like most shooters the standard options are available like crouching which is via the left thumb stick and aiming via the left trigger. Weapon changes involve holding down the left bumper and using the directional pad which actually makes it difficult to change weapons quickly in combat. At the beginning of the game you are introduced to most of the gameplay dynamics via a quick training session which I recommend doing. You will also learn some of the coop player strategies that are newly introduced in Army of Two such as ‘Feign Death’ and dragging and healing your partner.
One of the most important game strategies to learn and use in Army of Two is the concept of aggro control in the game. It’s a great way for you and your partner to really deal to the AI tactically if you’re willing to put in the time to work through scenarios. The combat sequences may take a while to complete but this will probably be solely dependent on individual skill level. There are three levels of difficulty in Army of Two, two of which are unlocked and one locked level. The AI doesn’t seem too difficult either so if you’re a seasoned Xbox gamer, you’re probably better so start on normal difficulty.
I liked the way Army of Two looked but again, it’s not really so much how this game looks that’s important. The driving force (and probably selling point) behind the game is the coop game play and the original game content. Sliding into cover isn’t new (although it’s slightly revamped in Army of Two) but interacting with your coop buddy and even going so far as to help your buddy over walls and obstacles is quite unique in a shooter. I liked this aspect of the gameplay.
Unfortunately, the only major let down seems to be with the actual online game play when the servers were almost impossible to connect to. This doesn’t seem too bad if you have real friends to play with (face to face) but a huge letdown if you’re relying on playing Army of Two solely via XBL.
The weapons in the game are impressive both in variety and customisation. You can really go to town with some of your weapons, as long as you’re raking in the money to do so. Character customisation is also pretty good, with the ability to change both armour and masks (and there are some interesting choices to pimp your character out if you really want to).
Army of Two is a good game if you’re a fan of coop shooters or if you’re just looking for a welcome break from the 16 player lobbies of some of the bigger multiplayer games currently being played on Xbox Live. For what it represents, the coop game play is definitely fun for a few hours.