The original Army of Two was unique in the way the game was built entirely around co-op teamwork, rather than having that form of multiplayer added as an afterthought and tacked on to a single-player storyline. The sequel, Army of Two: The 40th Day, looks ready to take that formula and improve upon it with lessons learned from the first game. But what about the PSP version? There was no original Army of Two on Sony's handheld, so there's nothing to follow up on. Well, instead of attempting a scaled-down port of the same exact game, it seems EA has decided to throw caution to the wind and create something entirely different on the PSP. What you'll fine is an old-school arcade shooter that maintains many of the trappings of its console brethren but that seeks to carve out its own identity with markedly different gameplay.
Who's Making This Game: The PSP version is the product of a partnership between EA Montreal and Buzz Monkey Software. EA Montreal is the studio that's taking full control of the console versions of The 40th Day, while Buzz Monkey is a small developer with a history of handling the portable versions of multiplatform franchises.
What The Game Looks Like: While the console version of Army of Two: The 40th Day is a third-person shooter that keeps the camera floating behind the back of your player no matter where you go, the PSP version uses a fixed perspective that alternates between top-down views and more zoomed-in perspectives. However, the environments are all the same as in the console game. You're running around Shanghai as the city is falling to pieces, with destroyed cars lining the streets and explosions happening seemingly at random. It's done in 3D, with more stylized characters and exaggerated visual effects, like the bright, golden glow that overtakes your character when he has maxed out his aggro (the attention-luring mechanic that focuses enemy attention on one player while the other sneaks around unseen).
What There Is To Do: Army of Two: The 40th Day is an unabashed arcade shooter. Simple by design, it tasks you with running around and shooting more or less anything that breathes. It feels very retro in the way you shoot at enemies coming at you in droves, find health pickups in the shape of bright-green first-aid symbols, and can actually see the bullets coming at you from the top-down perspective--almost like a shoot-'em-up. A lot of the features from the console game have been preserved, though, like the ability to upgrade custom weapons, fight heavily armed minibosses, and find hostages to rescue.
How The Game Is Played: The game uses a pretty unique control system. The analog nub is used to control your character, and the face buttons are for shooting your gun. Triangle shoots up, X shoots down, and so on. You can also press two buttons at a time to shoot diagonally, and there's a subtle autotarget system that keeps you from having to position your character ever so slightly to get a good shot on enemies. While we had the benefit of God mode, we found this control scheme to be surprisingly effective and largely free of frustration.
You can also take cover by holding down one of the shoulder buttons, and you can use the directional pad to switch weapons and issue commands for ordering around your AI teammate. These commands include alternating between aggressive and passive combat tactics, but you can also play local multiplayer if you want to bypass AI commands altogether. It's co-op, but it's not drop-in co-op. Thankfully, you can save anytime you want before jumping out and jumping back into that save state with a friend in tow.
What We Say: While we didn't test the true depths of the gameplay, what we played of Army of Two: The 40th Day on the PSP was good fun. Whether the old-school gameplay can maintain its charms over the entire course of the game is something that's up in the air, but we like the risk EA is taking with this one.