Army of TWO Review

If you liked Gears of War, check out Army of Two.

It’s basically Gears without the scifi angle, but the gameplay is exactly the same.

The only addition is the “AGGROMETER”. How distracted the bad guys are from the other player. If you shoot at them (miss, hit, or HEADSHOT) the badguys start paying attention to you. There’s some crazy bullettime maneuver that works entirely like Max Pain – whoever activates OVERKILL either goes crazy with bullettime and shooting while the other guy remains invisible.

The only gripe I have it that I constantly try to slide into cover only to have my guy climb over whatever I’m trying to hide behind. Unlike gears, there’s no separate button for melee attacks, and ammo seems scarcer. It’s not uncommon to exhaust your primary and be low on your secondary before finding either a place to stock up or killing someone who has some ammo left that works in your weapon. Unlike gears, you can’t grab weapons off the ground, but you wouldn’t want to.

Army of Two has the ammo shop you’ll either love or hate, which lets you buy weapons and upgrade. Primaries are all assault rifles or squad automatic weapons. Secondaries are all sub machine guns or pistols. Special weapons are fun – they’re sniper rifles or miniguns or other stupidity like an RPG. Upgrades are barrels, clip size, whatever but it’s mostly cosmetic representations of damage, accuracy, recoil, clip size, and arrgo (how much attention it attracts to use that weapon). Upgrades can be exclusive – the G36 with the pistol grip improves accuracy and recoil, but the shotgun will hurt accuracy and recoil while improving the damage greatly. Basically, figure out how you want to play the game and upgrade from there. It feels like it’s going to make a tactical difference but really the 50 cal sniper rifle does the same damage as the fully upgraded G36 but it zooms in much further. Buy something which suits your play style and work from there – there’s no surprises. Weapons which dish out damage can be upgraded to dish out more damage, but they don’t get much more accurate. Weapons which are accurate can be made more accurate. Weapons which are well rounded do everything decently without being stellar at any one thing. The only extra factor is “aggro”, which “pimped” upgrades (think: golden AK47). But again, if the G36 does 80% of the damage of the 50 cal fully upgraded, there’s no reason to buy the 50 – just shoot everyone twice.

This is where the game falls flat – you can’t buy ammo. You start with a full primary, generic grenades and secondary and that’s it. They don’t fill the special weapon unless you’re on a mission that needs it (parachute insertion). This is intentional since there’s plenty of situations someone hanging back and sniping would work swimmingly well while the other guy collects the aggro. If you said “that’s how I beat Gears of War!” you’re right. They don’t let you do that however. The emphasis is on keeping the game and you and your teammate close together. This is also where ass-to-ass mode comes in, it’s basically double bullet time where you and your buddy do twice the damage in slow motion at the risk of someone tossing a grenade or blowing themselves up and killing you both. Later missions this becomes vogue, if you don’t kill the explosives guys you end up getting knocked out of ass-to-ass mode.

The last deviation from Gears is the addition of the GPS. This is what pissed me off about Gears – it was pretty easy to get turned around since all the indoor stuff looked generic. Army fixes this by having a GPS with a path on it you can activate and it also has locations of observed traps and such. It still suffers from Gears “rail shooter” feel sometimes but the areas feel bigger which makes it a bit less hokey. Exploration is encouraged in the form of extra objectives and briefcases filled with money people leave laying around. Unlike gears, you can’t just leave your buddies to go exploring and “get around to” reviving them. Your buddies will eventually bleed out or get executed if left on their own (a lot like Gears online). Unlike Gears, downed buddies can shoot (not well) and you can drag them while shooting. The shooting-while-down leads to Blackhawk Down-esque moments but it’s really only good at bringing down people right on top of your position trying to execute you. Otherwise you end up simply drawing fire to an already bad position. This does occasionally lend itself to some unintentionally hilarious moments. Since grenades are “true” (they hurt everyone in the radius, friend or foe), there’s been times I’ve run behind the “bosses” (guys wearing superior body armor which don’t take damage from the front) only to catch a grenade tossed by the cannon-fodder which severely damaged the boss while also knocking my player down. With the “shoot while down” addition, this makes it a good strategy to suicide-squeeze the boss and then empty the clip into him from the back once he turns towards your buddy. Since most of the levels end shortly after killing the boss (or when you kill him), you go down and all your aggro is transferred to your buddy – just in time for you to kill the boss and end the level before you bleed out.

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