|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Montreal||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 5, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
Army of Two follows the exploits of Salem and Rios, a team of American mercenaries working for a private military firm called SSC. The game takes the pair through a series of major gun battles in various locations over a period of years, all in the name of getting paid.
Army of Two is not your typical shooter: it employs two-man character control and a unique tactical fighting mechanic that makes the experience very rewarding. However, the game is not without some problems. Fortunately, details such as smooth graphics, interesting level design, great multiplayer co-op support, and outlandish weapon upgrades outweigh the faults found in the run-of-the-mill story, sluggish multiplayer servers, and the uncanny blind-shot precision.
The marquis features of this title are the two-man, team control, and tactics. In Army of Two you will lead a two-man squad of mercs into military hot zones in order to secure a number of objectives. You and your A.I. or human partner will be able to accomplish missions that one man could never pull off. In single player mode you will be able to take advantage of the Partner Order Wheel. The POW is not locked within a submerged bamboo cell; its actually mapped to the D-Pad. The POW allows you to issue orders to your A.I. partner such as hold, advance, attack, regroup, act passively, or even go Aggro. If utilized correctly, your partner will make life a heck of a lot easier for you.
One of the biggest reasons for this is the Aggrometer feature. By playing aggressively, you or your partner will increase their Aggro level. Soon the aggressor will be glowing bright red and be targeted by the enemy A.I. as the major threat. As such, enemy fire will be concentrated on their position. This allows the partner to become somewhat transparent and move stealthily to other positions in a flanking maneuver. If one player is able to go Aggro long enough, then both players' skills will be greatly increased for ten seconds. Furthermore, the other player will become completely invisible to the enemies.
The Aggrometer function is the major tactical difference in Army of Two that separates it from other shooters. Using two-man team tactics this way is really quite fun. There are also a collection of other co-op maneuvers such as going back-to-back when surrounded, using riot shields for cover while your partner plinks the baddies, getting dragged to safety and healed by your teammate when youve been put down, negative and positive emotes, etc. that really help to accentuate camaraderie.
The single player mode is very good, and the friendly A.I. does a good job of keeping up with you. However, this game really shines when played with a friend. You can host or join private or public co-op campaigns that can be played locally or over Xbox LIVE or the PlayStation Network. Additionally, there are Versus modes that pair you up in ranked or unranked matches online or for some heated split-screen action at home. In Versus play you and your partner will take on an opposing team in an attempt to secure objectives before the other team goes and earns the most cash. All of the multiplayer content in Army of Two is stellar. Sadly, the games are plagued by a rash of serious lag. Hopefully this is due to a few kinks that need to be worked on EAs servers and not an issue endemic to the games build. Sluggish play was only frustrating during co-op campaigns, but it became unbearable during online Versus play.
Army of Two is a very easy game to play either alone or with a friend. Unfortunately, the Professional difficulty level is locked until you beat the game in either the Recruit or Contractor difficulties. As a result, the first time through will take serious gamers only a few hours to complete. Thankfully, the game is fun enough to beat again as long as you do it with a buddy. My suggestion would be to breeze through the story alone and consider it to be your training. Then you can invite over a friend or get matched to somebody online in order to take on the Professional campaign in co-op mode. You'll find that the use of the Aggrometer and flanking tactics work much better with a fellow human at your side.