Army of Two: The 40th Day brings mercenaries Rios and Salem back into action, placing them square into the middle of Shanghai as the city is undergoing a massive attack by an unknown organization. While the co-operative mechanics of the game have been amped up considerably the game as a whole lacks the same level of comic appeal found in the first game. While in the original you felt like Rios and Salem were just a couple of jackasses mowing down enemies with gold-plated weaponry the tone of the 40th Day is more serious, lacking in the “what the hell” moments that peppered the first game.
The underlying game mechanics are the same from the original; only almost all of them have seen some love to improve them. Since the entire game can be played co-op either with a human partner or with an AI one the biggest mechanic is the aggro meter, which simply measures how pissed off the enemy is against Rios or Salem. Using large, gold-plated weapons with muzzle enhancers will surely get their attention, whereas using compact SMGs painted camouflage with silencers hardly generates any when fired. The end result of this is that the more aggro one of the pair has the more likely they are to draw enemy fire, leaving the other to cause havoc in flanking the enemy or even running right up to them and stabbing them with a bayonet.
To help you achieve your optimum instrument of death the weapon upgrade feature has been improved, letting you swap out various parts of your firearms such as their stock, muzzle, magazine type, optics, paint job, and barrel. Each part affects your weapons aggro generation, accuracy, recoil, and damage; with many parts raising some stats but lowering others. Each part much be purchased from the money you gain by completing objectives or through gameplay itself, but often parts can be used with other weapons that you acquire or purchase down the road. This lends itself well to making Frankenstein firearms complete with soda can silencers and screwdriver bayonets, but it certainly lets you tailor your loadout exactly how you want. This also means you can make a grenade launcher with a large bullet shield or an underslung shotgun on it and paint it with flowers or pastel stars, if that is the statement you really want to make.
The gameplay mechanics have had their formula changed, and the sequel relies less on the minigame moments of the original such as the back-to-back shooting sprees or the parachuting down a canyon strapped to each other. With the latter removed outright and the former only happening a couple times, the game is more focused around incorporating such moments into the game itself. For example, if combat with a group of enemies hasn’t yet started you can mock surrender, drawing all the attention to yourself as you walk over and drop to your knees. Both players can perform this action as well, and if both quickly go for their pistols at the same time the game goes into slow motion as Rios and Salem mow down everyone in the room. You can take human shields as well, which can have added bonuses such as making a room full of enemies surrender of you decide to grab their commander.
At that point you can do what you will with the enemies, the result of which plays into the morality system. If you just tie them up you gain morality, but if you shoot them (or tie them up and THEN shoot them) you lose morality. Morality can also be gained and lost via the outcome of co-op choices that you can make, such as whether or not you choose to let a young kid try to help you out as he goes for a sniper rifle or follow new orders to shoot a guy in the back that just helped you out. The problem with the morality system is that there is no reason to go “bad”, as the only way the system matters is if you save civilians and stay moral which gets you a weapon unlock at one part in the game. Given that there is no reward or payoff for being the bad boys of combat, it makes the system one-sided.
However, the system is buggy such as the game prompting near the end that not enough civilians had been saved to get assistance in the fight we were in when both players had the Humanist achievement granted to players who successfully save every civilian in the game granted to them in the same play through. Additionally, unlocks meant for players with saves present from the original game did not unlock despite the in-game message that said otherwise, which kept some of the more interesting looking weapons out of reach.
When you take all of the flaws and advancements with the game, The 40th Day really just balances out to be equal to if not slightly behind where the first one started. The gameplay and weapon customization has been improved in a great fashion, but the game lacks the humor and over the top moments of the original. The morality system and plot of the game serve as more of a detriment to the game than anything else, and in both cases feel like the game would have been better off without them. The 40th Day is certainly still a fun game to play through once, mainly with a human buddy as your partner, but it simply isn’t as wanton fun as the original was.
Score: 3 of 5 • Review by: Tony Mitera