Army of Two: The 40th Day Review for PlayStation Portable (PSP)

Army of Two: The 40th Day Review for PlayStation Portable (PSP)

Army of One…ish

Is it wrong to expect the portable version of a game to be every bit as good as its console brethren? Probably. But, while it obviously won’t live up to its counterparts graphically, and may need to change somewhat because of the differences in system performance and control schemes, that shouldn’t give developers a blank check to quickly throw together a lackluster product, slap a big game’s name on it, and then place it alongside the console versions. In particular, I’m referring to Army of Two: The 40th Day for the PSP which has done just that; hastily created an inferior game that likely won’t appeal to anyone, especially those expecting at least a passable version of what was released on the home consoles.

Army of Two: The 40th Day screenshot

The 40th Day for the PSP shares the same storyline as its console cohorts. During what is thought to be a routine mission in Shanghai, Salem and Rios find themselves trapped in a city on the brink of destruction. In order to survive and escape Shanghai, Salem and Rios must fight their way out, finding out who is behind all of the craziness, and hopefully putting a stop to it as they go. The problem is that the game does very little to highlight the story or make you care about what is going on in any way.

Instead, it’s just you blasting your way through seemingly endless corridors and streets with the occasional conversation or morality choice thrown in just to show off assets taken from the console versions of the game. One of the best parts of this version of the game is that there is actually quite a bit of voiced dialogue to be had. Every conversation in the game is voiced, which is taken directly from its big brother versions, although not all of the dialogue is here, making it seem as though chunks of dialogue have just been grabbed at random and thrown into this version.

The morality choices don’t fare much better either, also making their way into this version directly from the other consoles. Every so often you’ll come across a situation that is only vaguely explained, and then you are expected to choose from either the most evil or most good from the possible responses in order to resolve it. Choosing the evil option usually nets you some sort of power-up or money and going with the good option often just doesn’t do anything for you. In either case, afterwards you are treated to a cinematic clip show, also taken from the console versions, that shows the repercussions of your choices.

Army of Two: The 40th Day screenshot

I can’t state this enough, these are usually quite nonsensical and seem to have little to no bearing on anything. [**Begin Spoiler Alert**] As an example, while walking through a zoo you happen upon a Siberian Tiger. At this point the game comes to a halt and a man on an intercom offers you some bullets (which are already limitless in this game…what?) if you shoot the tiger. If you choose the evil option and shoot the tiger, you will see a cinematic of a girl crying and taking a picture of its corpse then going home and getting on the internet only to find out that Siberian Tigers are now extinct. Wait, you expect me to believe that this is the last Siberian Tiger in existence and that I’ve just wiped out an entire species, really? Choosing the good option results in a cinematic that shows the tiger wandering out of the zoo, hiding in the back of a random roadside car, and then mauling a man as he tries to escape after robbing a store. First of all, that does seem incredibly likely doesn’t it? Secondly, good thing the tiger won that fight because apparently it is the LAST ONE in existence. [**End Spoiler Alert**]

The PSP version of this game does plenty of failing in the gameplay department as well. We all know that you can’t make a good third-person shooter on the PSP (please ignore Resistance: Retribution, Killzone: Liberation, Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror, etc.), so The 40th day instead takes a more arcade-like approach to the game. The 40th Day is played from a three-quarter view, with the camera following your character as you move along. While this perspective works well enough some of the time, you’ll frequently have issues with off-screen enemies blasting you without fear of retaliation, which gets worse as the game goes along because your enemies get stronger weapons.

Army of Two: The 40th Day screenshot

Players will move their characters around using the analog nub while controlling weapon fire with the face buttons. Each button will fire in the direction that they are positioned in, while hitting two buttons at once allows for diagonal shots. The game uses a fairly generous, yet wildly uncontrollable fire lock-on once you hit an enemy, making it easier keep firing as you move around without having to worry about where your enemies are located in relation to your character. This may not seem like the most elegant solution for combat, but honestly, it works fairly well as long as you aren’t trying to target specific enemies within groups, because that is next to impossible.

Where the combat completely falls apart is when the tactics and strategy were seemingly shoved into what was supposed to be a run and gun three-quarters shooter. Instead of just letting you outmaneuver your enemies’ fire while blasting them back, the use of cover, team tactics, and even a broken version of the aggro system were thrown in to muddle with the gameplay. To begin with, cover doesn’t work at all. Crouching behind objects will at best slightly lessen the amount of damage you take, and that is your only potential benefit for making yourself unable to return fire.

Army of Two: The 40th Day screenshot

Many parts of the game also force you to rely on your partner, which makes sense given the co-op-focused nature of its predecessor and current console versions. Unfortunately, you’re A.I. teammate is so incredibly stupid that it makes getting through the game an infuriating chore. You can give your teammate some basic commands such as to follow you or to stay put and how defensive or aggressive they should be. This might have been interesting and/or useful had it worked in the slightest, but as with everything that deals with your partner, it is completely broken.

Telling your teammate to hold their position is an essential part of the game, since you will wind up facing many large enemies that have to be shot in the back in order to be defeated. However, issuing the command to hold their position in order to flank these foes usually results in your teammate ducking behind something, completely removing themselves from combat. Either that or they will frequently teleport to wherever you are, making issuing the command in the first place completely pointless. Sadly, the follow command is just as unsuccessful, since your teammate is even ill-equipped to simply follow you, getting stuck on nearly everything in the level as well as stepping on mines, into spotlights, and standing underneath falling bombs.

Aggro is also a complete mess in this PSP version. Firing at enemies will eventually net yourself an orange glow and your partner a bluish hue. When orange, foes are supposed to focus their efforts on taking you out, allowing your partner to maneuver and flank enemies without being heavily attacked. In theory this sounds great, in this game it doesn’t really seem to matter which color you are. You can be blue and still get targeted by nearly every enemy on the screen. Even if it did happen to work, it would still be a completely useless mechanic given the absolute worthlessness of your A.I. teammate, who often won’t even bother to fire at enemies while you are trying to distract them. This gets absolutely frustrating and leads to just trying to run and gun through levels, which in turn doesn’t work because the game is designed to require teamwork in order to make it through.

If you can somehow sucker a friend into picking this title up, the multiplayer co-op (sadly ad hoc only) does help to relieve some of this game’s issues. With a human in control of your teammate, you won’t have to worry about them getting stuck, ignoring your commands, and refusing to fire at enemies. Instead, you’ll be free to realize just how repetitive and joyless playing through the game is when it actually works. This game boils down to walking forward and killing a room full of reused enemies, then repeating this process until the credits roll. Every once in a while you’ll be faced with a large enemy or boss to fight, both of which requiring the same reused tactics throughout. Add to this the fact that whoever joins this co-op match doesn’t even get to keep any of their upgraded or unlocked weapons and cash they’ve earned, and you’ve got a recipe for always playing single-player, which is nearly unbearable. In other words, if you are interested in Army of Two: The 40th Day, then you should check it out on the consoles. If you only have a PSP and are looking for a good third-person shooter, ignore this game and get one of the ones I listed earlier, you’ll be much happier in the long run.

The environments in this game look good, but the characters could have used some more polish and animations. 2.6 Control
Using the face buttons to aim and fire weapons works much better than expected, but it is impossible to aim at specific enemies and often ridiculously hard to make contact with melee attacks, too. 3.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sound effects are nothing special, but all of the voice work is topnotch and the music is decent as well. 1.9 Play Value
Completely useless A.I. makes playing this game by yourself absolutely infuriating, but if you can find a friend to play with, it at least becomes playable. Then it is simply just boring and repetitive. 2.1 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Weapons customization allows players to change their weapon in the heat of battle and adapt your firepower to the situation.
  • Army of Two: The 40th Day for PSP has been built from the ground up with a focus on co-op gameplay, resulting in the ultimate two-man tactical experience on any handheld platform to date.
  • An engaging story set in Shanghai, China in which the Army of Two must fight their way through ravaged city districts as they try to beat the odds and uncover the secret of the 40th Day.
  • Army of Two: The 40th Day features the same feel of the console version, but wrapped up in more accessible arcade style gameplay.
  • Two-player multiplayer support allows for up to two players in wireless multiplayer action via an ad hoc connection.

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