Monday, 9 September 2013

Army of Two

I spent far too much time on Sunday playing Army of Two and not doing mission critical gardening work. But this is a great game, and really ticks the boxes for a two-player shoot 'em up. It plays very like Gears of War, but since GoW is not available on PS3, AoT fills the gap quite nicely. You can watch a video review from a third party here, but here are a few observations from me having played through the first two levels (Somalia and Afghanistan).

Although set in the real world, with an arsenal of real world weapons to choose from, it is not a gritty game. The two characters are ex-US Army troops who complete a mission in Somalia before being offered contract work with a shadowy security corporation as contractors (read - mercenaries). From here they go on to accept a mission in Afghanistan.

What to like?

Great two player action in the same format as GoW, where cooperative game play is particularly rewarding in completing missions. What sets it apart from GoW is the additional 'aggro-meter' - one player can work to draw enemy fire while another sneaks round and takes out the opposition. Similar moves include use of riot shields or car doors, with one player blocking enemy fire as he shuffles forwards, while another shoots from behind the door. There's also the back to back mode where you set up a 360 degree fire zone.

So far, and admittedly we've only just progressed onto the Iraq level, there have been no major boss encounters. I don't mind the odd boss here and there, but bosses ruined some of the levels of Tenchu - Stealth Assassins for me, and also, IMHO, broke Metal Gear Solid.

I also happen to like the humour and banter which goes on between the two characters throughout the mission, particularly how one is obsessed with conspiracy theories and the other is just interested in making money.

There is also something new in each level. For example, the base jump into a gorge in Afghanistan, or having to carry a wounded man out of a terrorist lair while being shot at. In the early stages of the Iraq mission (which we've just started) you get put on the defensive for a change, being attacked by dozens of insurgents.

I also like the sense of paranoia that exists between firefights. It's even got me checking our rear periodically for enemy fighters sneaking up on us rather than simply focusing on targets ahead. I love a game which can sneak up on you.

You can earn cash by completing missions which allows you to buy a range of upgrades to your weapons, plus special equipment, and fancy new face masks which are the game's hallmark.

What not to like?

Not enough grenades. But then there never is.

A tendency to run out of ammo too quickly, but then maybe I'm getting too trigger happy. This is probably not a fault in the game design but more the way in which I play it. I'd rather adapt to a more realistic situation and pay more attention to ammo caches in the game.

Overall, AoT is an awesome game, particularly when you consider it came out in 2006. It has not lost its edge at all and is a worthy successor to Judge Dredd, which I got so much game play out of on the PS2.

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