Version Played: Xbox 360
Current CEX Price: £2
Gears of War really did influence an awful lot of games in the last generation – and it continues to do so to this day. EA clearly wanted in on the third person, bro-tastic action themselves – and Army of Two definitely feels like one of those games that wouldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for Gears.
Set across a number of warzones and mostly based closely on real-life conflicts, Army of Two sees your two soldiers leaving the US army to work for a shady private military contractor – and all is not as it seems.
What differentiates Army of Two in a big way from other 3rd person cover shooters is its mechanics, with a big focus on co-operating with your partner to draw fire away from enemies, fight back to back when surrounded and even snipe at targets simultaneously. There’s a lot of controls to get your head around, but the mechanics are relatively well implemented with plenty of on-screen prompts as you play.
The problem in playing Army of Two in single player is that your AI partner is pretty useless. He requires an awful lot of directing in order to get him to do anything useful, but nonetheless the actual cover shooting set pieces are generally pretty satisfying to work your way through.
There’s a great deal of variety in the tasks you can tackle and I found it refreshing that certain objectives can be failed without the mission ending. Bosses are relatively tough but once you have the mechanics down and don’t try to rush proceedings, they’re challenging but fair.
The game also falls down in its use of some pretty nasty violence and heavy handed political commentary, both of which jar with the banter of the two main characters. The use of real-world conflicts – or at least recognisable ones, given the time periods they’re set in – exacerbates this tonal issue. There’s a weird mid-mission shop setup too, which sees you spending money accrued on your mission at various arms dealers – but the framing device of your purchases coming from different parts of the world from shady individuals makes zero sense in the middle of a stage.
Is it worth a Bargain Bin purchase though? It absolutely is, despite the fact that it’s way less enjoyable in single player than in two player co-op. If you do have a co-op partner and you don’t mind the jarring shifts in tone, it’s a near enough unmissable game – given that the campaign is built on such a wide range of excellent, very well implemented multiplayer mechanics.
There are two more games in the series so far too, though it’s been six years since the third was released. It’s a shame that the series seems to be languishing, unloved, with so many other EA franchises – but hopefully we’ll see it make a return at some point.
Army of Two was kindly supplied by the awesome ScaredyMat, whose YouTube channel can be found here. And below is his latest terrifying and hilarious video – go check it out!
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