There are a lot of journalists in our gaming industry that have gone on a full rampage against EA for putting out what they consider to be half hearted attempts at great video games. I will not comment on that, however it is very apparent that EA has been listening to the criticism, and they have put out one of the strongest lineups of titles in years. One of these possible AAA titles that I for one have been looking forward to checking out is Army of Two, a game that hopes to expand ideas made popular from the Gears of War franchise into a game that is best played with two players. Is Army of Two for the PS3 the game that EA set out to create, or does it fall short? Read our full review to find out.
So here is my process in playing Army of Two, I started out playing the campaign by myself, then went online and played with a friend, and then played cooperatively with a stranger. Following that I went into the game’s multiplayer versus mode and checked that out as well. So that is also how I am going to review the game, starting with playing the game by myself.
Let’s start off with the story-line in Army of Two, which focuses on Elliott Salem and Tyson Rios and their involvement on the war on terrorism. I can’t tell you how surprised I was to see that the game takes a political punch, however you are literally laying through the war in which we are currently finding ourselves as Americans faced with right now. However you are more of the private sector of the army, something that the game eludes to as being a fear of American president Dwight Eisenhower. Although the story-line might hit people in different ways, it’s really not that big a part of the game and thus doesn’t impact things all that much.
One of the things you learn right away is the term "aggro", which basically refers to a mechanic in the game in which tracks the attention of the enemies. If you are gunning away at the enemy your partner is going to be forgotten about allowing him to sneak up and get some easy pot shots. If there was ever one feature that defined a game, this was "the" feature that describes Army of Two because it is used from the very beginning to end. This is what for the first time makes cover fire in a video game a worthwhile option, and also adds an extra level of strategy to a cooperative game.
However what you have to remember with Army of Two is that all of its features whether it is the aggro system, or the back to back setup which allows Salem and Rios to go back to back and gun down enemies, or even the great heal mechanic all are done better when playing with a human counterpart. When you play the game alone you loose all that makes this game enjoyable, and this is because the AI is not up to snuff. I should say that this is a game that would require the AI to be flawless and sadly it fails miserably. It is close, if you are in trouble your partner will always come and help out, but in terms of listening to commands or taking advantage of cover fire, it doesn’t all work.
However both when playing with a complete stranger, or with a good friend, the game then comes alive. The connections that I played on were fantastic and I could rarely even tell I was playing online. The game is running on all cylinders in this situation and the use of aggro really makes sense. The game has a lot of the same flow that you found in Gears of War which means run, cover, shoot, run cover, shoot, and repeat. Although I still wish there was a bit more to the formula it works so well when playing with a friend that I can’t see myself playing it any other way.
There are four different multiplayer modes to choose from all of which have a good variety. There is also the ability to go 2 vs 2 which if you have a friend to play with can really be a great deal of fun to. What ends up happening in Army of Two is that if you’re like me and start with playing by yourself, you will make such a quick transition to online, and that is where the greatness of this game comes.
Visually you’re looking at a solid game. It’s not necessarily a graphical powerhouse, it doesn’t take things to the point of the best we have seen but the developers did a good job nonetheless. One thing that really impressed me was for the lack of a story that comes with Army of Two you sure get some great cut scenes, which look fantastic. Salem and Rios are pretty good looking as well with a lot of detail and the two just seem great compliments to each other. The environments aren’t necessarily the most exciting, lacking the detail that we have seen in other next generation games.
I was really quite impressed with Army of Two, mainly because it manages to takes an emerging genre which is cooperative play and combines that with a very capable shooter. I wish I could say that the single player was worthwhile, but it really isn’t done well enough. So in order to really enjoy the game you will have to either play split screen with a friend or go online and play over PSN in a private or public co-op game. Once you get into this, this is where Army of Two really shines bright and becomes a lot of fun.
Had there been no online co-op, then there would be no reason to even think about playing this game. However EA manages to make the online co-op so nicely built that it makes for a fantastic experience. If you like co-op, and don’t mind not having a single player, Army of Two for the PS3 is a great game that is worth checking out.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.