|System: X360, PS3, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Montreal||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 12, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Andrew Groen
June 29, 2009 - Army of Two: The 40th Day is the sequel to one of the most original big-budget shooters of the last few years. Though it arrived on the gaming scene to a lukewarm critical reception, you would be hard-pressed to find somebody who wasn't excited for the sequel. The idea is simple for how to follow up with successful console sequels, but how will EA manage to cram that huge experience onto Sony's handheld system?
Well, the simple answer is that they don't plan to cram anything anywhere. The PSP version of 40th Day will be starkly different from its console brothers. With the PSP version, EA Montreal seems to be taking the Killzone: Liberation approach to designing a PSP version of a console shooter. Rather than attempt to recreate the massive Killzone experience on a handheld gaming system that is notorious for its inability to support console style shooters, Killzone: Liberation chose instead to go an entirely different route. Rather than a first-person shooter, it was a top-down shooter that was more akin to Contra than Call of Duty. The results were fantastic, and KZ: L received rave reviews(especially from us.) Click here for more info.
This is the same philosophy that seems to be governing 40th Day. They've stripped down the Army of Two experience, abandoned hopeless pursuits, and chose instead to focus on including the parts that truly make this series memorable. That means a renewed attention to co-op segments, a humorous script, and explosive action.
That said, EA has stated that the game will be changing focus a bit in order to address concerns by fans that the segments of bromance included in the first game were a little over-the-top. Don't worry though, you'll still get plenty of sarcastic one-liners and character personality, but EA wants to tone it down a bit.
The campaign will find Elliot Salem and Tyson Rios (our heroes from the first game) trying to escape from Shanghai as the city is literally being torn to pieces. The catastrophes that are mangling the city are of a mysterious origin, and the two warriors must battle their way through the ravaged city to discover the secret of the 40th Day. Not much is being said about the story, but we know that the 40th Day has Biblical meaning, and players who explore enough and save enough civilians can discover the full back-story.
The story is integrated directly into gameplay, as the literally being torn to pieces part happens all around you as you play. One level during the demo had Salem and Rios gunning down enemies as they ran down the side of a building that had recently collapsed and was now at about a 30 degree incline. Periodically, missiles would drop onto the battlefield and blast holes into the environment that would allow us to progress further into the level.
After that segment was over, a missile tore a hole in the building and we progressed down onto another building's roof where we would have to square off against a menacing (and fully armed) helicopter. The battle takes place like an old-school shooter. The helicopter's main attack was a chain gun that blasted back and forth slowly. The player had to stay out of its path while all the while attacking the craft and taking cover.
As previously mentioned, combat has entirely changed. Instead of the third-person over-the-shoulder game mechanics, the PSP version has been changed to a top-down camera view. Gunplay has also seen significant changes with shooting now being done with the face buttons. Simply press the face button that is in the direction you fire and watch the bullets fly with infinite ammo. (Press two directions at once for diagonal fire.) While this system hasn't entirely been perfected yet, and at times it is still somewhat difficult to hit enemies, on the whole it works decently and fits perfectly with the type of game they're trying to produce.
The major story here is of a developer who understands the limitations of the platform they're developing on and is choosing to tailor their game to fit perfectly and to function as users of that system need it to. This, of course, means that the developer has stated they intend to place a heavy focus not only on making a game that is feasible on a portable system, but making a game that can actually be played in small chunks.
Some gamers choose not to pay attention to the portable version of a big budget game, and many simply write it off, assuming that it will simply be a cheap, unplayable port (though historically this has often been the case). However, 40th Day is poised to take the series in a drastic new direction, and we cant wait to see the final result.
CCC Freelance Writer