You are hereArmy of Two really quite good.

Army of Two really quite good.


By Blackwalt - Posted on 09 April 2008


Starring Coxxorz and Blackwalt as the Official HoC Army of Two!...cause no one else wanted the job.


HoC score – 4 out of 5 Oompahs (I couldn't find any cat paws).

Tyson Rios & Elliot Salem: If this was a legitimate gameplay picture their mouths would be open and they would be hitting each other.Tyson Rios & Elliot Salem: If this was a legitimate gameplay picture
their mouths would be open and they would be hitting each other.
Note
As you all know. Coxxorz and Blackwalt took last friday off to play Xbox games. They picked the recent release Army of Two with a full length co-op campaign for their day off. Postings like this and the following email made the day all the more enjoyable.

    Subject: Friday
    From: Stormblade
    To: Blackwalt

    Just so you know, as I am sitting here at my desk while you play XBox,
    that I really, truly, deeply hate you ...

Oh, and Coxxorz as well ...

What follows is Blackwalt's thoughts on Army of Two.

Overview
Gamerankings has Army of Two ranked at 73.7% so I wasn't expecting a really strong game. Its fairly obvious though that EA put almost all of their efforts into the co-op gameplay.
Army of Two turned out to be a lot of fun. The game play is pretty derivative with Coxxorz constantly referring to Gears of War – definitely in the case of co-op game play style as well as the hide behind cover and pop up to shoot mechanic. Alice Murray: played by some asian hotty.Alice Murray: played by some asian hotty.
You can carry three different types of weapons and there was one slot for grenades. A primary weapon (assault rifle, shot gun, or light machine gun), a secondary weapon (pistol or sub machine gun), a special weapon (sniper rifle, RPG or stinger) and it was easy to switch between them (LB and d-pad). A Canadian influence in the developers was obvious with some of the names of the primary conspiracy players: Stockwell and Dalton. And the voice on your comms was A. Murray. Alice in this case but still pretty damn close. And Alice is an asian hotty so they obviously didn't stray too close to the original. I would expect that there aren't too many Anne Murray fans that still (or ever) consider her a sex symbol although Stormblade does seem to have an inordinate number of her albums.
Army of Two has a fairly predictable conspiracy theory for a plot line – something about private military corporations taking over from the US military. The cut scenes were chatty and kept getting in the way of our killing things. Only the ones with Alice in them managed to keep our attention – for no particular reason.
What was interesting is you had little "for God and country" motivation. You are mercenaries and your objectives had a cash value. As Salem says "We never killed anyone! Okay, well we have killed lots of people but..." Money was your objective and if you had to kill a lot of bad guys to get there, well that was okay. Your characters had gambling debts to pay off. Well, mine did. Coxxorz's guy was smarter with his money.

Weapons and upgrades, Oh my!
P-90: Blinged!P-90: Blinged!The armoury in Army of Two is extensive with all sorts of assault weapons, machine guns, shotguns and more for sale. You start with a basic load out but all weapons can be upgraded with better barrels, better stocks, larger magazines, silencers, and yes, bling. BLING!! Each weapon has a blinged load out with gold, chrome, and engraved wood trim. By the time Cozzorz and I blinged out our three weapons we were glowing. Very discrete we were as we jumped, ran and walked around.
Oh and shields. Yes you can buy shields that attach to your assault rifle or LMGs. This seems odd and looks odd and I have never seen it anywhere else. Plus they are tiny and pretty much useless.
The upgrade path can be strange. You can not skip to the best upgrade right away. You have to buy barrel 1 at $2,000 to unlock barrel 2 at $5,000. You can explain this away (if you squint) for barrels, stocks, and silencers but it seems weird for frontmounts. You have to buy the frontmount grip for $2,000 to unlock the frontmount shotgun at $12,500 to unlock the frontmount 40mm grenade launcher at $25,000. So really, the frontmount 40mm grenade launcher costs $39,500 if you really want it. And, seriously, who wouldn't?
Ammo varies in quantity. Sometimes its all over the place and sometimes you are clicking on empty with all weapons. Which is annoying although there is a melee attack. Usually the special weapon ammo (sniper and rockets) is always sparse. And during gameplay when it says ammo replenished at the start of the level it means primary and secondary ammo replenished. Your sniper rifle is still empty. Sorry, did you want to use that?
And melee. If you get to close to an enemy the right trigger initiates a melee attack instead of firing your weapon. This is a good thing as the third person view really makes close in aiming difficult. Melee attacks are also varied with an entertaining mixture. Headbutting, clotheslining (a vicious clotheslining), necksnapping, grabbing by the neck and tossing across the room (or into the nearest object). Sometimes it was a pain to initiate but it was always fun to watch. And sadly, no you can not melee your partner. Trust me, we tried.

8.5 hours of co-op goodness
Yes, technically, although there were breaks for drinks, pizza, and hockey. We started at 2:00 PM and played through until 12:30 AM. While we did not expect to, we stuck with Army of Two the entire day. We ended the single player campaign at 12:30 AM and called it a night shortly after.
We enjoyed the large amount of humour through out the game in both gameplay and cut scenes. Positive feedback can be given from one player to another by approaching the other player and pressing A. Feedback such as cheering, fist slap, air guitar on your assault rifle (had both of us laughing). Of course, negative feedback is also supported with face slaps, smacks to the head, and gut punching. All this came with verbal comments as well. We spent five minutes in the training levels just smacking each other around (and playing air guitar because that was just awesome).
Short cut scenes segued between different levels. Each co-op door opening (two button presses which required two sets of arms to push) lead to a short cut scene showing the action. No repeats, they were all different. Our favourite was Rios stepping through a door first and then sticking out his leg to trip up Salem as he came through. Slap stick but still funny. Coxxorz particularly appreciated it as it was my character face planting the floor.
Tyson Rios: played by CoxxorzTyson Rios: played by CoxxorzLevel design was standard nothing really unique up until the end of the Aircraft Carrier level. We've run through a sinking ship before (Call of Duty 4) but we haven't run across the length of an Aircraft Carrier to the last life raft while it was exploding, sinking, and covered in enemies. Not to mention the avalanche of crates that came storming down the deck at you! And yes they would knock you down if you didn't dodge them. On the plus side the falling crates kept taking out the enemies as they were too busy looking the wrong way.

Issues with obvious game mechanics
There were some gameplay mechanics that were put in to differentiate Army of Two from other derivative shooters but they seemed to take you out of the gameplay more than they added to the immersion.

Aggro: The player doing the most shooting gained the interest of the enemy, this is called aggro, and this means that the enemy pay less attention to the second player. In this case less attention means pretty much ignoring which just seemed weird sometimes as you were able to waltz through a battle field almost totally ignored. Which just seemed odd. Enough Aggro turns one player into a slow motion x2 damage powerhouse and the other into a high speed undetectable ghost.

Pushing co-op: the campaign is designed around co-op and as such has may areas that require two players to continue. or one player and one AI. Doors that require two separate and distant button pushes or levers pulls. Raised areas that require a step-lift where one player lifts the other up and then is hauled up in turn. Doors/grates that require two people to lift, yank off, or open. No split levels like gears of war were your characters separate and interact from different areas of the levels. You stuck together the whole game. But not in a gay way, oh no. Game play mechanics that make the campaign co-op but are obviously game-play mechanics. Not immersive.

Elliot Salem: played by BlackwaltElliot Salem: played by BlackwaltBack to back: This was odd. When completely surrounded (kind of) your character went into back to back mode. You could only spin in place back to back with the other character. Everything moves in slow motion as the enemy attack from all around (seemingly out of nowhere) and you never need to reload. It also picks your primary weapon no matter what weapon you have selected before it starts. Now here is the weird game mechanic part. You can never initiate back to back. The game does it. At specific points. Almost always at the start of a level or after a cutscene. Not immersive.

Cutscenes: when you did a coop move for door opening (yanking off the hinges) you started the action but only saw it as a cut scene. It seemed like the cut scenes were designed to get you from one point in a level to another when the developers could not figure out how to get you there within the game engine. This came up quite a few times. Not immersive.

Heavy Armor enemies: Some enemy characters were marked as Heavy Armor. You could not hurt them from the front. At all. You had to use one player to distract them from the front (getting Aggro) and the other player had to sneak around them and attack from directly behind. An obvious gameplay mechanic that stood out as not very immersive. This was similar for Mounted machine guns but you could shoot them from the side. Not immersive.

Ouch, ouch and ouch again
This could also be under game mechanics but it stood out and deserved Honourable Mention.

    "Where did you learn first aid, butcher school?"

The First Aid mechanic was a gameplay trick to keep you alive longer. Similar to Gears of War when you took too many hits you collapse and your partner has a limited time to get to you and save you. When you are collapsed however you can still shoot and switch weapons to cover your partner. In a twist, your partner has the option to drag you to a sheltered nook, box or corner to get out of the line of fire before healing you. Since getting shot stops the healing process you are usually required to do this. Sometimes you ended up dragging them quite aways to find a safe area. Coxxorz to Blackwalt, "Where the hell are you dragging me to?" It is my sad duty to inform you that he didn't make it. I cried as he died in my arms. With joy, my friends, with joy. I would have teabagged him but the level reloads at that point.

A.I. (enemy A.I. that is, I am not judging Coxxorz)
I expected a weak AI based on the reviews but found myself yet again surprised. It had its weak points. Common glitches where: the AI would jump over shelter to get to the side facing you, would turn and run away from you across the map to get to better shelter (yes, we shot them in the back. Why?), and decided fairly often that you had really good shelter and would run to join you in there. It got cosy. But, usually, they would hide behind shelter and blindfire or quickly pop up to fire at you. They would pop up at different times to throw you off and if there were more than one they would take turns. If you were watching and shooting at one in particluar he would not expose himself but let his buddies take their turns shooting. The would spread out to flank you and quite often run past you to set up behind you. And while you had a shot at them as then ran past you it was usually a hard shot. And grenades. They would throw grenades and lots of them.
Partner AI was mixed as well. It was usually function but had some weird glitches. If you snuck around a building to attack from two sides and were hurt, your AI partner would run through the building (and all the enemy) to get to you for healing. His dragging to shelter routes were worse than mine (honest) with him once doing a complete circle around a shelter barrier before settling down. I also had him try to heal me when I was twenty feet in front of a machine gun turret – it did not go well.
On offense he would usually follow your directions but I have had him park behind a shelter and empty all of his ammo into the shelter edge which was blocking his shot. Since his job is to draw their fire he failed. Leaving me high and dry on the other side of the map.

Plethora of well designed achievements
After day one Coxxorz ended up with 205g achievement points and I ended up with 195g. He was a stinking cheater by the way. After minimal additional time the next day I had an additional 45g and the day after that coughed up 150g more. And I am just a taste... just a taste away from Say Hello to my Little Friends for 45g. I'll probably have that complete before I publish this article. (Update: as this article is taking so long to write I have obtained Say Hello to my Little Friends as well as Mission 4 Complete for 15g)(Another the next night Spray and Pray for 20g).

To me the Army of Two Achievements are similar in style to those of Crackdown. The Achievements act as additional missions adding longevity (and fun) to the game. For example, killing 250 enemies with each sub-weapon time requires additional play throughs of the game. And this style of achievement list keeps the game interesting even in the play through. Getting the 30 enemies with shield melees was interesting as well as challenging and, okay, fun. I am now working on Dead Man's Hand, Kill 150 enemies total using Handguns, which is a severe pain after you are used to shotguns and machine guns.

Here is a boring list of our achievements, so far, to fill space (because this article is so short).

Blackwalt (Shield) and Coxxorz (Sniper): saving Alice MurrayBlackwalt (Shield) and Coxxorz (Sniper): saving Alice Murray

    Blackwalt's list:
      Acquired 4/4/2008

    Stonewall 30 (Technically after midnight)
    Two Eyes are Better Than One 35
    Field Medic 30
    Man of Many Masks 50
    Beast with Two Fronts 20
    Weapon Specialist 15
    Out of Debt 15

Acquired 4/5/2008
Mission 1 Complete 30
Flip You. Flip You For Real 20

Acquired 4/6/2008
Mission 3 Complete 15
Alright, Who Wants Some? 20
Seven-six-two Millimeter 20
Mission 2 Complete 30
This is myBoom Stick! 20
Fear is The Mind Killer 45

Coxxorz's list:

    Acquired 4/4/2008

Flip You. Flip You For Real 20
Two Eyes are Better Than One 35
Field Medic 30
Man of Many Masks 50
Beast with Two Fronts 20
Seven-six-two Millimeter 20
Weapon Specialist 15
Out of Debt 15

Multiplayer Versus Mode
Never tried it. Couldn't tell you.

Conclusion



If you have someone to play through the co-op campaign with then Army of Two is definitely a great buy. Coxxorz and I have played through the co-op campaigns of Graw 1 and 2, Crackdown, Rainbow Six Vegas, and Gears of War. I would say we enjoyed Army of Two as much as we have enjoyed any of the others. What stands out about Army of Two is the specific design of the campaign for two players. Playing with one player and an AI is not as entertaining as playing with two players. Yes I have done both.
While we rented our copies, the best recommendation I can give Army of Two is I would not have been upset if I had paid the full $59.99 for my copy. Unlike Rainbow Six Vegas 2 which cost too much for what it was. For a rental it was 8.5 hours of good gaming and a cheap 475g (so far) achievement points. I have to return my rental copy to Coxxorz and I am trying to decide whether to rent another copy or just bite the bullet and buy one used.

    P.S.- I knew this was taking too long to write when I came up with a different idea for it and almost blew it all away to start over (it was 90% done). Instead I decided to finish off what I had and post it ASAP. I originally started writing this on Sunday and finished it Wednesday. I did lose 40 minutes worth of work on Tuesday but I am not talking about it and since none of you will read this far, neither are you.
Blackwalt's picture

Two night ago (the day I finally posted this story) I added Mission 5 Complete for another 15g for 490 total.

Then last night I added Dead Man's Hand for 20g for 510 total.

Tonight (Friday) I am on fire and I am barely playing it around playoff hockey: One Shot. One Kill. for 20g - 530 total, My Kind of Case! for 40g - 570 total, and If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It for 30g - 600 total. Still more to come.

Of course, I had to return my rental copy to Coxxorz yesterday but I had planned ahead. I picked up a copy through used Ottawa for $40 cash. This included delivery (over his lunch hour) and the seller put his business card in with the DVD in case I had any problems! With the guys fast and accurate email communication I lucked out with this deal.

Blackwalt's picture

Smoking hot - Two more:

    Completed Mission 6 for 15g
    and
    My Virtual Friend for 35g

Total now 650 of 1000.

And I still haven't touched multiplayer...

Blackwalt's picture

Slow day - only three so far:

    Fission Mailed for 20g
    and
    Big Boom! Big Bada Boom! for 20g
    and
    Boots on the Ground for 10g

Total now 700 of 1000.

COXXORZ RANDOM XBONE DEALOF THE DAY

Walmart is offering E3 pre-order deals. Of primary interest to Herd of Cats is Black Ops 4 available for $50. We may be against pre-ordering here at HoC but that is $30 off.

RANDOM QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Great, your heart graph is giving me a heart attack. Thanks.

-Q-Bert

Good to know that someone cares

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