Army of Two: The 40th Day Updated Hands-On

Salem and Rios take cover behind dead hippos in our updated look at this co-op shooter.

by

Plenty of shooters are set in locales rife with political turmoil and social upheaval, but few take the genre into full-blown disaster zones. Sure, there are some good reasons for that--most of them beginning and ending with the fact that people would likely be too busy fighting for survival to fight each other--but it's a setting that presents designers with a lot of room to explore new ideas. EA Montreal has been doing just that with the development of Army of Two: The 40th Day, a shooter that takes place in Shanghai as the city is falling apart left and right.

In a recent look at The 40th Day, we explored a crumbling office building that, at one point, toppled over at a 45-degree angle that we then had to traverse down in the middle of a heated shoot-out. That's certainly one of the game's bigger set pieces, but even the game's less spectacular environments are pretty striking. Take, for example, our latest hands-on time with The 40th Day. Dual co-op protagonists Salem and Rios have made their way into the Shanghai Zoo, which has been hit hard by the destruction going on all over the city. In one continuous sequence, we gazed up at the sky to see a jetliner crashing down to earth, quickly followed by a shoot-out in which our only defense was--and this is the best part--taking cover behind a dead hippopotamus.

That general feeling of "What the heck is going on here?" is something that EA Montreal wants to instill in players early and often. The developer's goal is to take your expectations of typical third-person shooter settings and toss them aside in favor of the unexpected. That theme carries over into the type of weaponry you'll be using, as well. You can use cash earned in-game to customize your guns like in the original Army of Two, and while you can still unlock a gold-plated finish for your weapon, the general look of your customized loadout is a little more down-to-earth. We were shown a gun that had been modified with a makeshift bayonet consisting of a screwdriver tied to the barrel of the gun, as well as an ice pick bayonet and a stock made of bent wire. But the real king of the makeshift add-ons--or "homebrew parts, as EA Montreal calls them--was a gun that had been outfitted with a soda-can silencer.

Another area of focus for the development team has been making the action less black and white than it was previously. Whereas the firefights in the original game had a fairly obvious on-off switch--with players either in a big shoot-out or not in a big shoot-out and very little room in between--the sequel has added scenarios for you to sneak up on enemies and get a bit of a jump on them. In the zoo, we had a chance to walk up to a group of thugs relaxing on the other side of the hippo pen and snipe them from afar, and later in the demo we had the opportunity to crawl up behind a group of enemies and let one player take a guy hostage, while the other player held back and sniped them from afar. Other possibilities in these situations allow you to mock surrender to draw attention from guards and let the other player ambush them, or tag enemies using a special targeting screen to determine ahead of time which player goes after which guys. Combine those frequent opportunities for strategizing with similarly frequent miniboss battles against heavily armed super-enemies, and it looks like there should be a good amount of gameplay variety.

While the amount of frat-boy one-liners spouted by Salem and Rios have been reduced for the sequel to make them at least slightly more likable characters, they're still prone to goofing around in the heat of the moment. You can actually have the two walk up to each other and engage in a real game of rock-paper-scissors, complete with victory celebration animations from the winning character. It doesn't have any consequences in the game other than letting you decide who gets to play the fake hostage or try to get through an entire level with only screwdriver kills or whatever else your imagination comes up with, but it's there just the same. In a game where you're fighting in collapsing buildings, it's nice to see that EA hasn't forgotten the small things. We'll see what else they have in store as we get closer to the game's January 12 release date.

Discussion

77 comments
sonday08
sonday08

this game sounds awesome... definite buy.

greyfox198
greyfox198

That's. Completely. SICK! I can't wait for this game to come out.

kartik24
kartik24

game looks great... cover system is a bit funny...enemy ai is a bit weird too...

Ninja_Zombie83
Ninja_Zombie83

I don't understand it. Why don't they let people who actually know how to play games try the demo out instead of someone who looks like they are holding the controller upside down? Wouldn't it show off more of the game if you weren't spending 60 seconds killing 2 guys?

rayzero2002
rayzero2002

I cant wait until this game comes out. I'm definite getting this game.

Aarontan1
Aarontan1

I bought the 1st game when it launched, i like it a lot. I hope this 2nd game won't disappoint me

cocomacoco
cocomacoco

I loved the first one, specially that they released free content on xbox live for us!!!!, and it lasted a couple or three more campaign hours which was awesome, i really don't think the second one will be as great as per the video shown here, but hey, i'm going to buy it because they gave me a great game and a free add-on, never before seen since Rainbow 6 Vegas 2!

alexmr87
alexmr87

Glad to see they're sticking to a working formula and just tightening things up! The first one was the best first person shooter co-op campaign i have played on ps3, looking forward to the January sales for this one

JakeYourself
JakeYourself

Loved the first one, seemed to me like it was fairly under-rated, so im definitely glad they are making the second. Can't wait, it's gonna be kick ass!

ahmado79
ahmado79

Looks good..the graphics is great...overall its good!

Keitha313
Keitha313

Yeah they want this game to be 100% like Gears of war good thing if they succeed with that because Gears is an awesome game.

Raad78
Raad78

This game's graphix looks so much like uncharted's that it seems that they used the same engine,..., eventhough they aren't

rob_dAmAgE
rob_dAmAgE

ahhh! the "BROmance" continues! bring it! really liked the first!

81shoter
81shoter

Man i loved the first Army of two played the whole game with my bro and loved the co-op play just awesome!!! Cant wait for the second one

tamd
tamd

damn this game built for co-op, playing the first one on split screen co-op n i loveng it

Raad78
Raad78

As much as I love uncharted 1 and 2 and its graphical quality's acchivements, this game looks at least just as good, without to mention Assassin's Creed 2 and SCConviction. We have a great line of choices this year. Difficult to know which one will be the best, if it is ever possible though...

Shlobadober
Shlobadober

this game is gonna be sweet tho i hope you can still do some of the same messing around you could do in the 1st one like headbutting and stuff =P

Serentor
Serentor

the thing i love about this game is that its just made for co-op XD Loved playing the first one with my brother.

thibbledorfP
thibbledorfP

The last time I saw someone use a fat river mammal for cover, ...

JOKER677
JOKER677

i thought about getting this and then saw EA was in it so no nevermind

JewScout2
JewScout2

This game is going to be awesome! I really enjoyed the first one, but I hope they fixed all the flaws with the first. This game has a lot of potential to be a great game. The only thing I don't like so far is that they took out the mask customization feature. I really liked buying new masks! :( Other than that I can't wait for this game to come out!

willy2142
willy2142

SunnySang, the hippos are big animals, so the bullets can't cross them, in the scene the Hippo is the unique possible cover.

Time-To-Realize
Time-To-Realize

this is 6.5 not higher for me... who know sh*t happens right?

SunnySang
SunnySang

were they using a dead hippo as a bullet shield??? LAWL!

boomdodger72
boomdodger72

ABDULL_VAN - It could be Hit of 09, but since its out on January 10th thats gonna be kinda hard to manage.

YoPi18
YoPi18

Cool... Can't Wait....

Sergeitz
Sergeitz

heh fun!......should be...

Dualmask
Dualmask

I think games like this should let the player create their own character. I'm starting to hate it when the game devs decide what kind of person I get to play as, especially when they have unlikeable personalities or if who they are has no real bearing on the game's story. Still, who knows...might be fun. I heard interesting things about the first game, though I never played it.

ABDULL_VAN
ABDULL_VAN

Wow Wa Wee Wa i think this game will be the Hit of 09 also the graphics look awsome

GDCalibur
GDCalibur

Can't wait to get my hands on this one. I really liked the first despite some problems and lack of various things. It was still good. This one looks to be even better.

Alex_09
Alex_09

Wow this game actually looks good. I hated the first personally. I have only ended one demo playthrough before finishing it..

Raad78
Raad78

to RandomCTG yeah, maybe even better than Uncharted1 and 2, which look amazing by the way

WeaponX84
WeaponX84

should be fun i liked the 1st one!

eddienom
eddienom

Looks better then first.

kyure4theich
kyure4theich

i just hope they add new co-op animations, whether in battle or those silly "rock out" scenes. that's what makes the game different.

stoney-boy69
stoney-boy69

it looks good but the other guy looks retarded like the las game. idk...

Galm3
Galm3

Well, I think it won't be as good as MW2, or even CoD4, but I kinda like Army of Two games, for sure I'll buy this one

aaronthomson11
aaronthomson11

this game looks the same as the first one.....terrible

killascoop20
killascoop20

the first one was good and i hope this one is even better

custerke
custerke

Nice, very eager to try this game out. Its something special.

BFKZ
BFKZ

looks awesome...

Muteki_X
Muteki_X

I can't wait for this game. I loved the first one, and it looks like they've improved on a lot of things.

Fandango_Letho
Fandango_Letho

Finally we can see the clip fall off a gun. Game looks great, way better than 1st.

guitarist1980
guitarist1980

I dont know I really didnt enjoy the first one that much it was some what fun if you were playing coop splitscreen with a buddy, but even then it just didnt get me and i probably wont be buying this unless they do alot to make up for the fact that I paid 60$'s for that last piece of overrated software.