Army of Two: The 40th Day

Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Publisher: Electronic Arts
UK Price (as reviewed): £39.99 (incl. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $58.99 (excl. Tax)

Army of Two isn’t a game with a sterling reputation and, between the mid-genocide fist-bumps and the pimping of your favourite AK-47 with a gold and platinum coating, we think it’d be hard to find anyone who thought otherwise. ‘Functional’ is perhaps the best word to describe the corridors of baddies and bare-bones story. It got the job of co-op shooter, done.

In many ways Army of Two: The 40th Day, which has chosen a fashionably obscure subtitle instead of the more conventional use of a number (probably because ‘Army of Tutu’ sounds a bit weird), stays close to these ideas. The plot of the game has somehow been trimmed down even further and the action distilled into an even more raw form.

At the same time though The 40th Day is obviously trying to distance itself from the coarse insensitivity most people attach to the first game. It introduces new ideas that allow you to project some basic morality onto your two blank-faced mass murderers, and the tutorial section no longer spends ages introducing the specifics of how to start a chest-bump.

*Army of Two: The 40th Day Review Army of Two: The 40th Day Review
I'll never leave you, Rios/Salem!

Despite the addition of an ethic system though, it’s hard to get away from the fact that The 40th Day is still a game about wholesale slaughter and that it’s fundamentally just more of the same. Electronic Arts may claim to have addressed the problems of the previous game and, on the surface at least that’s pretty much true, but don’t kid yourself; this is still a series intended to get unobserved 12 year olds foaming at the mouth at the idea of diamond encrusted grenades.

Diamond encrusted grenades. It kind of says it all, really.

EA has at least done itself a favour by reducing the story down to the absolute essentials and nothing else though and, rather than the anti-merc conspiracy that was the crux of the original’s plot, Army of Two: The 40th Day makes things a lot more simple – to the point that you occasionally wonder if there even is a story at all.

*Army of Two: The 40th Day Review Army of Two: The 40th Day Review
Frikkin' Grenade!

Salem, Rios and Alice, the survivors of the previous game, have set up their own mercenary unit. They are doing a job in Shanghai when suddenly the city is assaulted by a mysterious, unknown third party. The city is filled with troops, tanks and artillery in the blink of an eye and the trio that forms the eponymous army of two are trapped inside. They start fighting their way out. That’s it.

It’s hardly Oscar-worthy stuff, but to be honest it doesn’t really matter and anybody who even gazes at The 40th Day’s boxart will know that narrative isn’t really a priority for this game. All the plot really needs to do is give your actions a framework and on that front it works just fine, providing wiggle room for those who actually do want to find out what’s going on by littering the levels with collectible radios that offer short audio clips to flesh things out.

Honestly, there’s not much more to say about The 40th Day’s storyline. It’s going to be insultingly basic to anyone who actually wants to invest themselves in the characters, but if you’re only really interested in the violence and the co-op then it’s enough to keep you playing and not enough to get in the way. Personally we find ourselves edging towards the former viewpoint, but we recognise that narrative isn’t something Army of Two is really interested in so we won’t linger here, just to take a few swings at an easy target.
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