Army Of Two is a third person cover shooter where you and an AI partner fight through six missions, going through a story of betrayal where the villain is mostly just playing politics to make himself richer. The game is also the Xbox360 Games With Gold title this half month.
I’ll start with the main feature of the game: There’s two of you. Many games like to sell it as the player character is the only one who can save the world or do whatever the plot requires, in Army Of Two you rely on your partner as much as on yourself. The intelligence of the computer controlling the partner was quite good, it could forget to shoot sometimes and didn’t fully understand revival but it was helpful. The AI could even be given instructions by use of the d-pad to tell it when to move or how aggressive to be. Pressing down on the d-pad allows you to see what your partner sees in a small box that appears on screen. Having two characters allowed the developers to create special moves that could be done together such as one of you picking up a shield while the other one takes cover behind it and shoots, there was combo sniping, combo climbing and back to back shooting.
The AI partner tied in strongly to the Aggro system where enemies would focus their fire on whoever had drawn the most attention meaning the partner could be told to be aggressive and that would allow the player to move freely to eliminate the distracted foes. All Aggro can be put on your partner while your health is low with use of a feign death move that would trick enemies into thinking you were dead. The Aggro system also allowed the player to take all the fire and eventually enter an Overkill mode which made the player more powerful in combat for a short while.
By now you may be wondering about the characters themselves, they are Elliot Salem and Tyson Rios. The two men have a lot of character with one of them being a bit of a jobsworth who focuses on money and the other a hero who makes the heroic decisions. They spent a lot of time winding each other up and occasionally hitting each other. The developers clearly took inspiration from over the top eighties and nineties action movies which shows in both the characters and the gameplay such as one really fun bit where you have to run across an exploding aircraft carrier.
The tutorial at the start of the game was quite informative and what it didn’t tell you it told you in mission one or at least I think that was the idea, I spent half the game not knowing how melee worked(same button as shoot when close to an enemy but it didn’t always work), it didn’t tell me that the back button (the button near the Xbox button that isn’t start) would give me a vision mode where I could follow a line to my objective and it didn’t warn me that the vault over cover button was the same as slide to cover.
Difficulty was a strange one with this game, inconsistent may be a better word with missions two and six being the ones that I struggled most with plus the length of missions could feel wildly different which made me not know whether to have my determined head on or if I should think like the shotgun toting manic that some missions allowed me to be.
Other problems I had with the game were that combo sniping confused me by reducing my screen to a quarter of its size; the forced back to back and melee attacks both left me exposed, often resulting in death; there was a timed objective on one mission which was supposed to add tension but just made me stress plus nothing else in the game was timed; my gun didn’t always fire when I had ammo, was aiming and not doing a melee attack when I pulled the trigger; some enemies could shoot through walls (they weren’t supposed to); the screen gets darker as you are near to death which makes sense but in my case it meant I couldn’t see well enough to find cover resulting in… you guessed it, death! My AI partner froze once, just stood out in the open not doing anything and the enemies could fall over without dying which could help you kill them if you realised they weren’t dead, otherwise they get back up and kill you.
Don’t misunderstand me, this was a great game brought down by a few issues. The Aggro system is something I’d like to see put into other games and the characters were done really well. Ultimately I feel that with better designed back to back and more gun customisation and a better AI for the partner along with better button mapping and the sorting out of my other issues then this could be a really great game.
I’d also like to mention that the Versus mode doesn’t work which I think is because the servers were closed down.
The art that I’m using as the featured image was found on the achievements section of the Xbox website. Two men wearing masks and holding guns back to back over a cityscape pretty much shows everything about the game, there’re two characters who rely on each other and use guns, often fighting in cities. They can win every fight and the image is striking in its own way with the men being so big in the picture.