Army of Two Prerelease Hands-On

EA Montreal's cooperative shooter is almost out the door after a brief delay. We played the latest retooled version.

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In an alternate universe, you've been playing EA Montreal's cooperative-focused mercenary shooter Army of Two since November, which is when the game was originally slated for release. But because we're bound to this physical reality for the moment, a universe in which EA instead opted to slide Army of Two's release date back a few months for tweaking and polishing, we just got to check out a nearly finished build of the game today at EA's corporate headquarters in Redwood City, California. Both cooperative campaign and competitive multiplayer modes were on offer during our demo.

Compete for cash and prizes (in the form of better weapons) in Army of Two's competitive multiplayer.

The good news is that the developers in Montreal have been using the extra few months of production time to examine what was already essentially a completed game to see how they could improve it. For instance, the heads-up display has been significantly refined and simplified. The iconography is smaller and now there is less of it crowding the screen to afford a better view of the action. On the graphical side, the developers implemented a new lighting model that's meant to better highlight subtle touches, such as the bump-mapped fine details on the character models. This was in answer to criticism that some parts of the game were previously too dark and visually bland.

One of the big changes is the new teammate-resuscitation system. Gone is the old tampon-based minigame, which literally had you staunching the blood flow from your compatriot's wounds with a feminine-hygiene product. Aside from looking a little strange, this mechanic rendered the downed teammate completely useless and took both players out of the game. It also completely interrupted the action when you initiated the revival minigame. Now, when you run out of health and go down, you'll still be able to shoot from a prone position while you wait for your partner to come patch you up. Your partner will be able to drag you to safety (while you're still shooting), though you've got a bleed-out timer that ticks down all the while. If it runs out, it's game over.

We got a chance to play some matches in the game's two-versus-two multiplayer mode, called warzone. This mode drops both teams of two into the same battleground, filled with enemy soldiers that are hostile to both pairs and starts throwing objectives at you one after the other. It's essentially a race to see which team can complete each objective first; as soon as one team finishes a given goal, the next one will come up. So only one team will reap the cash reward from each objective. The type and progression of objectives presented in a multiplayer match is randomized, so you won't ever know what you're going to be tasked with next. Of course, you can always just kill the other team to stop it in its tracks before it can meet a goal.

The cooperative campaign offers all sorts of interesting tandem actions.

The objectives we saw in practice had us doing things like assassinating a particularly strong enemy, destroying a background element like a helicopter, or escorting an injured soldier to an extraction point. The cash you make from each objective will be tallied at the end of the match, with the richest team declared the winner. But you can also spend some of this money during the match to buy new weapons and upgrades, as well as respawn faster when you're killed. Army of Two will only ship with four multiplayer maps out of the box--though the two maps we tried were pretty well packed with different objectives, vehicles, and turrets to play with--but EA plans to make additional maps available for a fee on a monthly basis after release.

The core single-player campaign in Army of Two hasn't changed much since our previous looks at the game, other than small tweaks, such as the new revival mechanic. We played a couple of missions from the middle of the storyline where Salem and Rios were chasing after a warlord in Iraq. Then, they were later parachuting onto the deck of an aircraft carrier to take on a bunch of terrorists. Army of Two is now slated for release in early March, so come back to find out if EA's extra development time has paid off.

Discussion

142 comments
aslater86
aslater86

I disagree with the review. A game's plot content can not be the basis of a review. Look, the game Postal 2 was a great of example of a bad take on 'every' issue. But Army of Two is a look at PMC industry with a sense of humor. Blackwater mercs just got in trouble for poor ethics, not to mention Merceneries on xbox didn't have half the bad press. Give me a review on the game, not your angle on the plot content.

HolteEnder4Life
HolteEnder4Life

It's a fantastic game when playing with a friend, the AI obviously doesn't quite match up to another player but its still very smart, so single player is still great, short though. Online? meh, not bad, but id rather play halo 3 or CoD 4 online. All in all, i'll give it an 8.4.

thetealcaptain
thetealcaptain

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

woods0419
woods0419

Why am I paying Gamespot a yearly fee for the full package if they can't even get reviews out on the day of release? I remember a few years ago where the reviews would come out about 3-5 days before the game was released! What is taking so long?!?!

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

I also thought GS was supposed to present un-biased opinions of forthcoming releases as well as hands on reviews GOOD OR BAD, i too have heard nothing regarding Ao2 which i find quite frustrating, so.... if anyone has this game please post your comments here. Many Thanks (PS dont be afraid of being honest).

tarald
tarald

It's sad to see that GS has started holding back bad reviews on a regular basis if the developers have paid big bucks for it. One of the best examples is Front lines: Fuel of war, it's been out there for two whole weeks and still hasn't been given a review. On the release date they had adds all over GS...

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

anarchy69yoda, thx mate, whats the mp like? as im very curious about this game

anarchy69yoda
anarchy69yoda

I already played and finished this game. It was fun and interesting. It lacked ultimate customization of armor, masks and guns. There was only a few masks. 3 body armors. but i did like that u could paint your gun gold. Pimped! Overall the game was really short and easy. Could 've done better. :(

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

would have been much more interesting to have had the same dynamics with a Team, as opposed to just 2 players. A miss for me!

KOoI
KOoI

this game makes me wish private contractors existed

Diduseeasign
Diduseeasign

Whoever wrote that didn't seem too ecstatic about the game did they?

RoC1909
RoC1909

Isn't that a joke.... "EA plans to make additional maps available FOR A FEE on a monthly basis after release". Gone are the days of FREE maps....how sad.

Itsleaking
Itsleaking

Well like Noventus said you can tell somthins up with the game. Normally in a preview you get all kinds of crazy adjectives on how the game looks and feels but they seemed to hold back. I'm only interested in this game for the Single Player and dont give a stuff about multiplayer. Heres hopin its alright....

Mousse420
Mousse420

as if the military wasn't bad enough, now we have propaganda to glorify "private contractors" .. Yeah, use the third world as your sandbox of murder, it's not like you'd want to set them all on fire if they did that to your neighborhood.

Emmet_9mm
Emmet_9mm

Y cant people wait until release before they judge it YOU HAVENT F***IN PLAYED SO STFU game looks good :)

Hicks_1
Hicks_1

this wasn't reviewed it was previewed

slayaz
slayaz

I was once told by a good friend of mine in the industry... "never trust a game that is not reviewed before it's launch date. Normally means it has something to hide or it stinks." This advice has always stood me in good stead, so I think i'll give this a swerve until I read a review I can trust. The preview versions didn't get great comments tbh.

rayray345
rayray345

Where the @$%! is the review at for this game!

darthcowlick
darthcowlick

multiplayer looks good but only 4 maps and a fee for the others may put people off.

DragonChild88
DragonChild88

The reason they only have four maps is probably because of all the AI opponets and the missions

nscattareggia
nscattareggia

Maybe only having four maps will be a good thing. Since very few people will be buying the maps it will allow you to become specialized with those 4 maps. COD4 and HALO 3 are so varied in their maps that it is not how good you are at the game but how good they are at the map. Now with only four maps it might just be a contest of skill not map knowledge since there will only be four. I'm excited though for this game, both online and off. Since my friend and I finished GOW we have been looking for another team based co-op fps. This game takes it to the next level.

bamfer3
bamfer3

hmmm downloadable multiplayer for a price? think i'll get R6V2 first...

JEEBUS_BOGONDO
JEEBUS_BOGONDO

if the maps are cheap then okay, if not then *#@^ that

PdPstyle
PdPstyle

wow updates on multiplayer for a fee? big nock, ill probably just rent this game

key1solid
key1solid

wow,iv bin waiting for this game to come out for ages,looks great and im sure all the tweeking has made it much better,thanks EA.... To tell you the truth though,four maps?? what!! downloadable on a monthly basis,,wow you guys know how to cream us for our cash,hope there gunna be worth it,but hay im sure thay will...........???

scottishlocard
scottishlocard

Its "Processing" in my Gamestop account rite now! Just a couple more days!

Eko_Eko_Azarak
Eko_Eko_Azarak

It looks like a really cool game. I feel like I need to rent it before I buy it though, for some reason.

gatrosk
gatrosk

Hahaha I'm glad they took that tampon minigame out that would've been really screwed up O.o But the game looks good I'm interested to see what kind of things they have you do with the coop in the single player. The multiplayer sounds very cool. Overall looks like a fairly interesting game with lots of potential

holyman376
holyman376

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

FinalChosen
FinalChosen

donalbane, most haven't even made reference to the gameplay itself - the thing most seem annoyed about is the in-game content available on release. Which I think is justified as the whole 'pay for extra stuff for your game' thing is gettting old fast. It all began with horse armour on Oblivion...

deecypher1
deecypher1

Frame rate is how many frames appear per second (normally 30-60) References to bad frame rate usually mean the game looks choppy or runs slow.

flushedorgen
flushedorgen

ok you guy's might make fun of me for asking this but what the f*** is frame rate

donalbane
donalbane

I wish people would reserve judgment of this game (and it's 4 multiplayer maps) until after they've tried it. Any whining about a game before you've even played it is meaningless.

camichan
camichan

4 maps, even if large will certainly wear thin pretty fast. Shadowrun got hit hard for its lack of maps and that game had 9 maps. I'm sure they will follow up with more, and if not, then at their peril. I am glad to hear that they took a few months to refine small elements of the game. I wish more companies would delay for this purpose since so many games go unpolished and the little flaws really keep them from shining.

ag3ntz3rox0x
ag3ntz3rox0x

stop complaining about the 4 maps. there probly huge, and they didnt focus this game on multipayer, its all about the co-op. so get a grip, and buy the maps when they come out or dont get the dame.

Pyro77
Pyro77

Well Noventus no game reviewer is gonna give a thumbs up or down on a demo of a game even if its close to the final build. That simply would not be fair. They can only give you an idea of what to expect of the game in broad terms.

Noventus
Noventus

u know what really bugs me about gamespot in previews, they never ever just give u thumbs up or down, they never give thier own oppinion in terms of how they felt the game played or anything. its so painfully obvious that you guys get paid to hold back the dirt till AFTER release

K1LLSWITCH
K1LLSWITCH

Yeah, four multiplayer maps is nothing. They need more than that.

FinalChosen
FinalChosen

This game looks pretty sweet, but four multiplayer maps isn't much. If it was Bungie, you know they would do all they could to release more, quickly and cheaply. But look at EA's track record - in-game advertising, hostile takeovers and sequel after sequel after sequel. So I won't buy this until the price goes down, or EA stop trying to monopolize the industry. The only thing EA have done right is the 'EA Sports - it's in the game!' motto. That guy's voice is class. Can you imagine having it? 'Where's my jacket?' 'Your jacket - it's in the car!' :D

Cookie2-0
Cookie2-0

I agree with respessz the maps are huge and the multiplayer is amazingly origional and I am going to have to say this map will be a definate buy for me. PS FireFLY RULEZ

TheBenzinMan
TheBenzinMan

hell i like the downloadable shi* cus sometimes they might put in more achivments :)

mikel222222
mikel222222

They'll probably have more maps for a price, damn EA

respessz
respessz

Did i mention that the 4 Multiplayer maps are Huge? Go Play Dead Rising run around that Mall Thats one map

respessz
respessz

Dear People not buying this game because of only 4 maps, You are a N00b. A game that was 100% focused on co-op decided to put some multiplayer content in for all of the people b*tching about the game not having Multiplayer, NOW you are B*tching about the multiplayer that they put in JUST FOR YOU! Get off of your ego trip they allready bent to your will finding a way to create multiplayer in a Co-Op game.

joey4uncw
joey4uncw

Getting a lot of bang for your buck means that you get a lot of value out of a little bit of money it doesn't seem like if they are going to charge the now normal 59.99 for the game w/ 4 maps and then charge another 10 for 4 more that doesn't sound much bang for your buck to me. Sounds like a big hole to drop your money in and watch it drop to the bottom.

harm0n1ca
harm0n1ca

To all the people complaining... Don't buy the game if you're not happy about charging. The fact is this is all about money, and if a company thinks it's product will receive a high demand, it will charge as much as possible to milk its customers dry of their hard earned cash. If you don't buy and wait, EA will be forced to drop the price, and will be less likely to try this sort of thing in future games. Fact is, if a company can get away with charging more for less, they will. It's the way its supposed to work. I for one won't be buying the game till the price drops as I don't need to play it that much that I'm willing to compromise my own principles for it. But that's me, if you don't care, don't worry about it.

buttface1
buttface1

How predictable of EA to do something like this... four maps then make you pay for the rest. Almost every game they've put out with online play has done this and it's getting really annoying. Never the less, the game looks awesome.

SleepySid
SleepySid

Shame they're gonna charge for extra maps, 4 is not enough. Unless they release the game at a budget price then it seems like a rip off to me.

XLongXShotXX
XLongXShotXX

I glad that they took the time to tweak the game.... because i saw some of the pics like 2 weeks before the orginal release date and it looked kinda bad... and the tampon thing look real stupid

Veckus
Veckus

I think paying for additional content is great. It provides developers to be compensated and will ensure they wil provide more down-loadable content in the future. Making games is not cheap, the money has to come from somewhere. I guess as long as I don't pay for a piece of crap I'll be happy with getting a bang for my buck.