Army of Two is, at heart, a fairly standard action game that is saved from mediocrity by some fun co-operative gameplay. If you don’t have a friend to play through this with, you may as well stop reading right now.
If you’ve played Gears of War on the Xbox 360, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect here. Army of Two is a third-person shooter that follows the exploits of two mercenaries employed to take care of situations that the US Army can’t handle.
The gameplay is built around teamwork – so much so, in fact, that the hidden motto of this game must surely be ‘If you work together, you can achieve anything!’ While other games have offered two-player co-operative play before, Army of Two takes it one step further, and features a good handful of abilities that must be used in tandem with a partner. Such moves include hoisting your pal up a ledge and having him pull you up afterwards; moving forward with a riot shield while the other player stays close behind and provides cover fire; and building up your ‘aggro’ amongst the enemy so that they focus on you, and not the ally who is sneaking around behind them. Beyond this, the very nature of the showdowns with numerous bad guys encourages you to work together with your teammate – if you head out on your own, you’re going to get killed.
These elements are easily the best parts of Army of Two, and provide the most thrills. If you play with an AI partner, it’s still fun, and certainly adequate enough in most places, but nowhere near as engrossing as having a friend in the same room. Alternatively, you can grab someone online to play through with you – or engage in competitive deathmatches that are entertaining enough to try out for a while, even if there are limited maps available.
There’s no one particularly bad element of Army of Two – it’s just that quite a few aspects of the game feel pretty half-baked. The biggest example is in fact the co-operative elements. While they’re generally pretty good, they do feel under-utilised, as if the developers didn’t have time to implement them as fully as they intended. Certain flaws in the gameplay also bring things down a bit – waves and waves of the same bad guy types get pretty repetitive after a while, and starts to drag the game down a bit.
It’s obvious that a fair amount of work went into making the storyline polished and involving. It’s a shame, then, that it’s such a boring, clichéd action plot, full of stereotypes and forgettable characters. You get the sneaking suspicion that if the story had been left to the wayside and more resources dedicated to improving the gameplay, things would have turned out better. As it is, at least the story is coherent, which is more than can be said for many games of this type – just be prepared to groan whenever your characters open their mouths.
Overall, Army of Two is a game about missed potential. You can see – very clearly at times – what the developers wanted to achieve with this game, but you can also see where they failed. It’s by no means terrible - not by a long shot – but you can’t help shake the feeling that you could be having more fun. Still, if you have a hankering for some co-operative gameplay that’s enjoyable when played with a friend, you can certainly do a lot worse.